(THIS ARTICLE IS MACHINE TRANSLATED by Google from Norwegian)
May 2017: Images from Manchester go over the TV screen. 22 killed, several injuries to life. People are in despair. Many are scared. Again we are reminded of the terror in Paris, in Berlin, in Brussels. Within a few years, hundreds of people in the western world have become victims of the IS terror campaign. Where does the next terrorist attack come from? Can Europe defend itself against this insanity? The response from our top politicians came at the NATO Summit in Brussels on Thursday 25. May. At the Memorial of the victims of the Twin Towers, our political leaders declared that the West must be militarily equipped. Now the NATO alliance will also join the war against IS.
What kind of history is being told by our political leaders? The story of a fanatical movement, IS, with roots in Islam – which hates democracy and the "infidels" that will destroy the West. Only use of force can protect us from this. We are powerful and rich. We have the world's strongest military power. We can "crush them" to use President Trump's rhetoric.
And now they will be crushed; with more weapons, more war, more militarization of Europe.
Profit or people? Many of us are now asking: Is this the whole story? Has the West not used military power in the Middle East since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948? Can not even more war and oppression have the opposite effect – that we affirm the image of the West that IS itself proclaiming, namely the West as Satan? That even more poor young people without hope join, with life as effort, in the fight against this Satan?
In my opinion, there is a great danger that it is the latter that will happen. It is therefore crucial that Western politicians realize the reality of the Middle East: Ever since the establishment of the State of Israel and the displacement of the Palestinian people in 1948, Western politics has been on collision course with Arab peoples and Muslims in the world. The West's struggle for oil and arms markets, as well as other strategic interests, has for years brought new suffering to the people of the Middle East. Western media often remind us both of 9/11 and of Islamist terror, but have an incredible ability to forget the enormous suffering our own policies have inflicted on the people of this area: The creation of Israel in 1948 turned 800 Palestinians into refugees – people who still living as homeless. The Lebanon wars of at least the early 000s killed at least 70, the wars in Iraq with large refugee flows – and nearly 100 civilians killed only after the US invasion of 000. The wars in Libya, Yemen and now Syria with enormous human suffering. Large parts of the Arab world are in total crisis today. These are countries that experienced great progress in the 700s and 000s. It focused on education and health. UN figures show that as early as 2003, all children in Iraq went to school, and in 60, illiteracy was almost eradicated.
I was a student in Cairo in 1969 when the city celebrated its 1000th anniversary. The pictures in the magnificent 500-page anniversary book remind me of what the Middle East could become: there are images of fantastic culture, of industrialization, of education – of women flowing to study and work, secularly dressed, without covering their headgear. The ancient people in the Middle East know this story. They tell the young generation, who only know war and poverty and escape, about life in the old days. They talk about Israel, about America, about those who hate Arab people.
A ruined region. Reputable English journalist Jonathan Cook has written the book Israel and the Clash of Civilizations. He offers thorough documentation on who is profiting from the destruction of Arab countries: Israel, the United States and their allies – such as Norway. Israel can continue its occupation policy as long as its neighboring Arab countries are in crisis, and the West is guaranteed oil and access to an ever-expanding weapons market.
Threats from IS in Europe have roots in the broken Middle East, and have a good base in the poor neighborhoods of European big cities.
Recent years' threats from IS in Europe have roots in the devastated Middle East, and have had a good base in the poor neighborhoods of European big cities. Here, large groups of young people are living in outsiders – they are without work, without income and without hope. We, who have contact with this type of youth, know all too well what thoughts arise when you – humbled, poor and without dreams – live as an outsider in cities laden with goods and wealth. It is in such situations that hatred arises, and the idea of revenge, of meaning something. And the dream of Allah's Paradise.
Much indicates that most Western politicians do not understand the seriousness of the situation and the extent of the devastation we have inflicted on the Middle East. Nor do they understand the hopelessness of many environments in Europe's major cities. Or they will not understand – it costs too much – and therefore choose the most primitive solution: more power. But what if this further use of force works against its purpose, that it only reinforces fanaticism?
The only hope we have is that a strong opposition is built that can push the West's politicians to face this reality and change the policy drastically:
- Israel must be forced to abandon the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and give the Palestinian people the right to return to their own country.
- Great humanitarian and economic efforts must be made to rebuild devastated countries such as Iraq and Syria.
- The non-interference principle must also apply in the Middle East. The governments of Syria and other countries must decide for themselves what forms of military and economic assistance they want.
- A humane and targeted social policy for refugees and immigrants must be given high priority.
Such a policy is the alternative to NATO's use of force. It will send signals that may eventually remove the breeding ground for the fanaticism IS is growing on.