ON THE CHRISTMAS BOMBER
He knew he can do better than his father.
I did, too.
I was Jewish.
He was Moslem.
I know where he is coming from as if he were myself.
His family’s well-being was an affront to the poverty of multitudes. The unjust world must be destroyed and he will be part of the struggle.
Young and searching for meaning of life,
Critical of hypocrisy and corruption in society,
Determined to make a difference,
Living on two parallel and totally separate tracks. One is in the open, guided by his hormones and physical self-awareness, and the other secret, known only to him and a special group of brothers in clandestine quest to change the world.
Fighting the demon of non-manly fear inside him, he forces himself to face sacrifice: arrest, torture, even the unthinkable.
Poetic thought of death is the ultimate romance, too.
The bigger the obstacles, the bigger his determination.
Jesus was a rebel against society of philistines and so is he.
Mohammed preached a just and pure world and so does he.
The quest is sacred and it is not for sale.
The Jewish youth was forced to cry out and once thought that it can conquer the oppression by assassinating hostile politicians.
The Muslim world is being heard because it believes that their oppressors are abroad.
A shoe bomber or an underwear bomber, even the 9/11 bombers - they are all just a nano-flash of impotent rage.
But are we real enemies of each other or just humans following a similar ethos but on different paths?
I don’t know, but I posit that the West will not win by ignoring and even tolerating the conditions which breed the terrorists in the Muslim world. I know it isn’t because of the Jews who have been scapegoated for ever and for everything.
Terrorists can cause havoc individually or in small groups of suicides, but they are in reality small fry, weak and impotent. Instead of getting together en masse to change their own oppressive regimes, as Western youth has done in many a revolution, they resort to their cabals of individual kamikazes. They act big, but in effect only annoy the real or perceived backers of these regimes by acts of individual, self-destructing terror in the West.
My own small and by its very nature anecdotal experience makes me say that we are trying to solve the problem the wrong way - by throwing our money at it, thinking that gold can buy out inconvenient beliefs.
When, after a convulsing and painful decision to abandon the political religion of my youth, I decided not to return to Yugoslavia, it wasn’t because I was attracted by what I saw in the West, but because Tito crushed my ideals by reneging on his promise of democracy.
We had rallied around him in 1948 when he made clear to Stalin that the Yugoslavs will put up a fight if the Soviets try to invade. But now (in 1956) he was refusing to support the Hungarian uprising against the Soviet invasion of Budapest.
I stayed in New York, in need of money, job, dignity.
Along came a Yugoslav representing the CIA. It happens that the man was a slimy individual to whom I took an instant dislike. But to make things worse, he offered to pay me if I agreed to follow a cockamamie political scheme, which would put me to the left of Tito and so, presumably, start a contest for his demise not seemingly of Western origin.
I flatly rejected him and explained this refusal to cooperate to another CIA man, American, well educated, who tried to understand what I stood for, which at the time was even for me hard to find out. I knew only what I was against.
In our many meetings and discussions, his questions boiled down to how I think the US can best counter the Soviet Union? What was my assessment of the East-West conflict?
I remember telling him that the US can not win by buying people.
“Look at me,” I said, “I jumped ship out of my free will, because of ideas in my head, and I am being invited to become a stooge on a payroll”!
The decision not to return home was on impulse, sudden, a decision for which I had not prepared. It came out of my heart. I had no money, no job, just the dignity of doing what was right.
The offer to now buy me seemed only natural to the man the CIA hired to do its Yugoslav thinking. It was utterly offensive to me.
My best advice to the good CIA cop was to compare the Kremlin with the Vatican, both with massive following and unyielding dogmas. People find solace in certainty, I said, in assurances that their dogma is the Right Way. The belief makes the pain of living recede into the background. It is the psychology of mass behavior.
Attract people with the American ideals, I suggested. Don’t turn away people like Sukarno of Indonesia, who grew up on the milk of the Declaration of Independence, but became an inconvenience for the State Department. Or Lumumba, who looked at American struggle for independence as a model for his Congo and meant it.
Why does Washington go around deposing leaders who would be the Washingtons of their countries, liberators of their people?
Why not try living up to the American ideals by deeds, not empty words. Lead by example if still true to them, still remember how your country came about to be.
The Church has abandoned the teaching of Jesus, and gluttony is only the smallest of its sins. The political West promotes idols that reside not among the Founding Fathers but in Wall Street. What is one to expect?
But back to Jews and Moslems, East and West, real or imagined enemies.
So many years later, I have no answers.
The world finally gave the Jews a country to shut them up, but the interests of the new state is colliding with those of its neighbors.
What is the West end up doing about the false prophets of Islam? Try this: the corrupt regimes of the Moslem world must go before the storm dies down.
Until then, there will be young people doing stupid heroics.