Two significant anniversaries occur this week. The first one is well known to all – the solemn remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001, destruction of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, and a portion of the Pentagon in Washington, taking nearly 3,000 innocent lives. No American will ever forget that horrific day, even after the media eventually stops commemorating it in a major way every year.
The second anniversary is more obscure. This coming Saturday marks exactly 10 years since the fateful day when the preliminary Oslo "land for peace" accord was signed on the White House lawn. In many ways, that event – hailed at the time as a great leap forward for the turbulent Middle East and the entire world – was as tragic as 9-11. It sparked the worst-ever decade of terrorist assaults upon the weary Israeli public.
Over 1,000 Israelis have perished since a beaming Bill Clinton prompted a reluctant Yitzhak Rabin to shake Yasser Arafat's trembling hand in the September sunshine – proportionate to the loss of nearly 50,000 American lives.
In recent months, I have come to the conclusion that the two anniversaries are intricately linked. While they share some obvious features, such as central Mideast Arab components, other important connections may not be so clear.
Could it be that the cheery Oslo signing ceremony was the catalyst for the abominable 9-11 attacks? I think the answer may well be "yes," both politically and spiritually.
The very last thing millions of Arab Islamic fundamentalists wish to see is growing American power and influence in their national arenas. Many are prepared to go to unbelievable extremes (they are extremists, after all) – including carrying out or supporting death-dealing suicide attacks – in order to weaken the Great Satan's foothold in the region. Such True Believers will never be comfortable with any moves that might strengthen America's "infidel" hands in or near their Muslim homelands, whether it be Arab-Israeli peace accords or the "liberation" of Islamic lands from internal dictatorships.
Many Americans business and political leaders don't seem to fully get it. That's probably because they are accustomed to dealing with the wealthy Arab elite that controls a few Gulf sheikdoms and Egypt. But the teeming Arab masses – largely poor and undereducated, with one of the highest birth rates on earth, and mostly faithful Muslims to boot – are not of that ilk. Millions among them will never be content with humiliating Arab world "subservience" to non-Islamic superpower lords and masters – period.
To be fair to American leaders, some of their Israeli counterparts have been just as blind to this basic regional reality. The Israelis should know better. Throw enough money and political reforms at the "militant" Muslims and they will soon be hugging Jews, claimed Oslo advocates, such as former government ministers Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilen.
The Oslo peace process came crashing down in a hail of dust and bullets in late September 2000, foreshadowing the Twin Towers' collapse one year later. Now, another vain U.S.-sponsored peace process is tumbling to the ground. I was among many who forecasted this result, since the "Roadmap" peace plan was built on the same shaky foundations that simply could not hold the vaulted Oslo skyscraper in place.
President Bush got some bad advice on this one. Back a "moderate" Palestinian like Mahmoud Abbas to replace the obstructionist Arafat, he was told, and all will be well. Wait a minute. Wasn't America's great Arab hope just 10 short years ago the very same Arafat who is now in the political dumpster? Doesn't anyone suspect that the problem might not be who is leading the Palestinian people, but that a good portion of those people simply refuse to drink from the well of peace with their detested Israeli cousins?
As I see it, another foundational problem has been the "land for peace" formula at the heart of both the failed Oslo and Roadmap plans. Israeli Jews were expected to abandon wide swaths of their ancient biblical heartland, including their holiest ground in eastern Jerusalem, in exchange for Palestinian Authority promises that violent Arab attacks would end.
Even if Arafat and /or Abbas were sincere in making such pledges, they would predictably never succeed in persuading substantial numbers of their Muslim subjects to accept such a seeming breech of Islamic hopes and dreams – not to mention hallowed Koranic injunctions. In other words, the attacks would predictably go on, and "lasting peace" would never gel.
Bill Clinton arm-twisted a reluctant Yitzhak Rabin into signing the Oslo Accord a decade ago. Could that have brought a spiritual curse upon America?
Jewish scholars point out that eight is often the number of "completion of a cycle" in the Bible. Almost exactly eight years to the day after the preliminary Oslo Accord signing in Washington, the Pentagon was struck by a hijacked airplane just a couple miles away. This came as the World Trade Center collapsed up the coast in New York. Another jet, said to be on its way to attack the White House itself, was brought down over Pennsylvania by the selfless American heroes on board.
One of al-Qaida's declared beefs with America is its strong support for Israel, demonstrated by what they regard as "one-sided" peace deals like Oslo. As difficult as it is to write this, I strongly suspect that the 9-11 atrocities may have been spiritually linked to the Oslo signing as well. President Clinton took it upon himself to become the main international sponsor of the doomed Oslo accords, and the fiercest champion of the veteran PLO leader.
The result was an unprecedented flood of blood in Israel. Could that reality have ultimately contributed to the unparalleled slaughter in America's capital and leading commercial city? In other words, was there an element of divine judgment in the terrorist attacks, due to U.S attempts to "divide up" the Lord's special land?
While realizing this will anger some readers, I think it is quite likely that the God of the universe might have allowed the 9-11 atrocities to occur largely as a warning to America: Take care how you deal with My covenant land and its holiest city, lest the Islamic violence done to Israel come back upon you. If so, it is surely a warning that is well worth heeding.David Dolan is a Jerusalem-based author and journalist who has lived in Israel since 1980. He reported for CBS Radio for over 12 years.