Dr. Richard Benkin Bio
Terrorists as Islamists and our foe as radical Islam
Are Today’s would-be Peacemakers Really Blessed?By Dr. Richard Benkin Saturday, December 13, 2008
“Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9) truly are inspiring words. Especially at this time of year we hear sermons and pious statements from religious and secular leaders on that very theme. Indeed, in light of the recent carnage in Mumbai, India, these words are particularly poignant. And what could be wrong with making peace? Nothing; so long as we understand that peace is not the mere cessation of hostilities; that peace without justice is a chimera; that a peace which does not address the difficult issues underlying the conflict is a temporary truce at best that actually encourages more war. Unfortunately, our contemporaries hunger for peace so terribly that our would-be peacemakers ignore these important distinctions with alacrity.
In a week when Americans gathered with their families to give thanks for their blessings and pray for guidance, Islamist terrorists carried out coordinated deadly attacks across the Indian city of Mumbai. If Delhi is India’s Washington, Mumbai is its New York. And just as Islamic radicals chose New York as their primary target on 9/11, their choice of Mumbai for this terror strike was made to let Indians know that even their country’s greatest cities were not invulnerable.
Two Sundays later, I addressed a memorial for Mumbai’s victims in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, IL. The people who attended the ceremony and certainly the people who spoke were good people. The weather was nasty, and most Chicagoans were preoccupied with our professional football team at the time; but we all felt that this was more important than any of that. I was preceded on the dais by Naperville’s Mayor George Pradel and India’s Consul General in Chicago Ashok Kumar Attri; I was followed by a local Chabad rabbi, a friend of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, who ran Mumbai’s Chabad House and whom the terrorists tortured and murdered. (Chabad is an arm of the Orthodox Lubavitcher Chasadim, based in Brooklyn, NY.)
These people certainly had reason to be angry, and they were. Their condemnations of the attacks and words of mourning for the victims were sincere. But it is no coincidence that I was the only speaker that day that identified the terrorists as Islamists and our foe as radical Islam. While genuine, the other speakers could have been talking about any terrorists or even run of the mill criminals. In fact, before the event, its master of ceremonies telephoned me and made a point of saying that this was not to be a time for “blaming anyone or any country” and that they wanted the event to be free of any “emotional” speeches. I responded rather bluntly that the people who asked me to speak did so for a reason, and in doing so they knew exactly the sort of speech they would get. Still, he took me aside prior to the event’s start to make the same point and did so again in his opening remarks, which called for peace.
“Peace.” It is difficult to hear that word without thinking “just peace,” which is its lingua franca these days and has come to mean a peace process that is more concerned with appeasing aggressors who cry crocodile tears about perceived injustices than with genuine peace. The week before the ceremony in Naperville, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice was flying around South Asia—on our nickel, by the way. Was she there to coordinate anti-terrorist strategy with India or force Pakistan to end its support for Islamist terror? No, she was in South Asia to “reduce tensions” between India and Pakistan. India had just been attacked by a terrorist group based in Pakistan and supported by its Pakistani intelligence, and Rice was there to be “even-handed”? Neither she nor any other US official urged Americans to refrain from military action after 9/11; A hostile power had invaded our country and murdered our fellow citizens; and we were not ready for someone to tell us to calm down. We all stood with President George Bush when he rightly said “you’re either with us or against us.”
Yet, my government repeatedly asks others to do what we would not do. Many journalists were calling the Mumbai attacks “India’s 9/11.” It might have been on a smaller scale, but that nation experiences continuing Islamist attacks, most of them Pakistani-based, too. When I was in India earlier this year, there was a terror attack or counter terrorist action every day. Similarly, when Islamists from Hamas or Hezbollah send rockets or suicide bombers into Israel, our Administration almost invariably flies in envoys to “reduce tensions.” But they have in reality reduced nothing, except the period of calm that ultimately follows a justified retaliation against the terrorists’ supporters. In fact, the most Rice, the European Union’s Javier Solano, and others ever achieve is “peace in our time.” Their efforts have not stopped terrorism; if Arab terrorism against Israel is down, it is due to Israeli efforts. There is ample evidence of almost daily attempts at terror attacks by the Arabs. When I asked an Israeli official if they stop them at the border, he smiled and told me, “We stop most of them in their beds.”
My fellows on that podium were no less passionate than I am; they might have felt pretty much the same as I do. The difference is, as I put it that day, I am “not retrained by the shackles by political correctness, protocol, or politeness.” As average citizens, that is our strength—and our duty. If politicians have to worry about lawsuits and public attacks, we do not. If our governments have issued directives that officials never speak of Islamist terror or radical Islam, it has no power over us. If our mainstream media fears the reaction of CAIR and other groups; we do not.
And we need to exercise that power and identify our enemy every chance we get; in every venue available to us; until the rest of the people wake up to the threat. Some of us are already organizing our fellow citizens to do just that. For we know that refusing to face our adversaries head-on only strengthens them. Remember the attacks on President Ronald Reagan after he called the Soviet Union an evil empire—in contrast to his predecessors? But it took that sort of honesty to force the collapse of Communism in Europe. Nobody in their right mind wants war or longs for it; but history has shown us time and again that if we go after a false peace, war is exactly what we will get.
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Dr. Richard L. Benkin secured the release of Bangladeshi journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury in 2005. The two continue working together to fight Islamist radicals and their allies in South Asia and elsewhere. For more information on how to help, please contact Dr. Benkin at email@example.com. Their web site is [url=http://www.InterfaithStrength.com]http://www.InterfaithStrength.com[/url].
Dr. Benkin can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org