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What Caused 9-11?

by Michael R. Burch, an editor and publisher of Holocaust and Nakba poetry

What were the reasons for the 9-11 attacks?

The terrible injustices inflicted on millions of completely innocent Palestinian women and children by the governments of Israel and the US
• US government military and covert operations that led to the suffering and deaths of millions of Palestinians, Iranians and Iraqis
• US government meddling in the internal affairs of Middle Eastern nations, on the assumption that Americans always know what is best for other people

How do we know that these are the real reasons for the 9-11 attacks?


The 9-11 Commission, headed by Vice Chair Lee H. Hamilton, held 12 public hearings during the course of its investigation of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, convening for a total of 19 days and taking testimony from 160 witnesses, all of whom testified under oath. On June 16, 2004, the 9-11 Commission heard testimony from law enforcement and intelligence experts on the real reasons for the 9-11 attacks. During this hearing Lee Hamilton asked, "I'm interested in the question of motivation of these hijackers, and my question is really directed to the agents. What have you found out about why these men did what they did? What motivated them to do it?"

His witness at the time was FBI Special Agent James Fitzgerald, who replied, "They identify with the Palestinian problem, they identify with people who oppose repressive regimes, and I believe they tend to focus their anger on the United States."

His response was stricken from the written record for obvious political reasons (Americans are not allowed to criticize the government of Israel publicly), but can be viewed on YouTube because the proceedings were filmed:



On September 20, 2001, George Bush told a joint session of Congress and the American people that the Islamic extremists responsible for 9/11 "hate our freedomsour freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other." According to Bush, not exactly the sharpest card in the deck, people in the Middle East hate our "freedoms" and our "values." But is this really true?

Despite all the hard evidence to the contrary, many Americans still subscribe to the fairytale that Israel and the US are innocent victims of irrational Muslim aggression. But the simple truth is that our government is hated and despised by people in the Muslim world for entirely legitimate reasons, such as Muslim women and children being treated like rightless serfs, animals and insects by cruel, arrogant, hubristic, hypocritical Jews and Christians.

Lee Hamilton, the Vice Chair of the 9-11 Commission, explained it like this: "Foreign policy gets very complicated. When you take certain actions to support a friend, the security of Israel, as we did, it has consequences. No question about it."

Another way to explain the problem, metaphorically, is this: Suppose you have a friend who keeps getting drunk and pounding his wife and stepchildren to a bloody pulp. Now suppose that rather than counseling your friend to stop drinking and abusing his family, you kept providing him with sympathy, money, booze and brass knuckles. Would you be surprised if the mother's family saw you as part of the problem, and chose to attack you in her defense, and her children's?

Supporting  a friend who beats women and children unmercifully can, unsurprisingly, have consequences.

Polls of the Islamic world reveal interesting facts. Most Arabs, it turns out, have positive feelings about Americans and share American values such as education, healthcare, employment and personal security, which are areas of common concern. However, Arabs quite understandably have negative attitudes towards America over things like Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and America’s interference in the internal politics of Middle East countries. More than anything, they despise American hypocrisy. How can Americans say that they believe in equal rights for all human beings, then always favor Jews over Palestinians?

Page 147 of the 9-11 Commission report sheds light on the motives of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), whom the report calls the "mastermind of the 9/11 attacks":

KSM's animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.

KSM's nephew, Ramzi Yousef, who was sentenced to a prison term of 240 years for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, also accused the United States of supporting Israeli terrorism against Palestinians, saying that he was proud to fight any country that supports Israel.

Michael Scheuer, a CIA analyst and author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, explains that Osama bin Laden's "genius" is his ability to exploit U.S. policies—first and foremost, our government's one-sided support for Israel—that are most offensive to Muslims, and notes that it is particularly difficult to have a serious debate regarding U.S. policy toward Israel.

If its mindless support for Israel is the main reason our government is hated and despised in the Arab world, why is the subject taboo? What if Muslims are correct to demand equal human rights for Palestinians? Why do American politicians insist that we are being attacked because of our "freedoms" and "values" when in fact we are being attacked because we support an nation, Israel, that denies equal human rights, freedom, justice and representative government to millions of people, most of them completely innocent women and children?

Even the 9/11 Commission, in its otherwise thoughtful treatment of issues related to the 9-11 tragedy, skirted this important issue by merely noting in passing that "America’s policy choices have consequences. Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world."

The real question is whether American policies and actions in the Arab and Muslim world are just or unjust. If American policies and actions in the Middle East are racist and unjust, and always favor Jews over non-Jews, then we have betrayed our stated ideal of equal human rights for all human beings, and are nothing but hypocrites and criminals.

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