The Future of Muslim-Christian Relations

The Future of Muslim-Christian Relations

  • 3 June 2002

The September 11 attacks had a profound impact on the
American psyche. This national tragedy also deeply affected the
course of American foreign policy in the weeks and months
after the attacks. The United States’ current war on terrorism is
a natural, reflexive response to the unexpected and devastating
attacks of an unseen enemy. Unlike all other wars and conflicts
in which the US has previously engaged, this one is not directed
against a particular country, leader or national movement.
Instead, the battle takes place on many fronts – economic,
military and political – against clandestine organizations that
seek to undermine the position and interests of the US in the
Middle East. The commitment to this war will remain resolute
in the foreseeable future, though its focus and methods will
probably change, depending on the perceived threat.
For the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular, the United
States’ own experience with suicide attacks has particular
relevance. Americans have been witnessing the increase in
violence that is consuming both sides. Americans, despite their
natural sympathy for the cause of the stateless people, recoil
at scenes of civilian carnage that come weekly from the streets
of Tel Aviv, Netanya, Haifa and Reshon Letzion. The scenes of
occupation – tanks aimed at homes, soldiers ripping through
offices, entire cities under siege – are alien concepts and have no
emotional resonance for Americans. However, after the tragic
encounter with terrorism on September 11, the American people
can absolutely and immediately identify with Israeli suffering.
The speaker noted that though Bush first adopted
a hands-off approach to a conflict that was based on the
parties’ own intransigence, President Bush did re-engage
directly and continues to press both sides to come together.
In recent polling, an overwhelming majority of Americans
support his policy shift. However, Bush faced vociferous
domestic opposition, also from within his own political
camp, and found little solace in Yasser Arafat’s vacillating
leadership style. The speaker confirmed President Bush’s
determination to continue ahead with his policy toward a
settlement between Palestinians and Israelis; however, he
needs strong support from the Arab world.

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LECTURER

Monday 3 June 2002

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Monday 3 June 2002

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