One of the most bizarre aspects of the media coverage of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks is the focus on the widespread belief in the Arab and Islamic world that they were the result of a U.S. government and/or Israeli plot.
There are more than a few fruitcakes in this country who harbor the same delusions about Sept. 11, but they are largely confined to the fever swamps of the far right and the far left. But in the Arab Middle East and the Muslim world in general, mad theories about Jewish plots are part of mainstream political thought.
Those media outlets that have shone a spotlight on the phenomenon of Sept. 11 denial have done so mainly to highlight the low esteem in which the United States and the current administration, as well as the State of Israel, are held in the Third World. Commentary on this lamentable situation has tended to focus on the need for Americans to explain themselves properly to Muslims and to avoid confrontation with Islamists.
But the real problem here is not whether or not Americans are doing all they can to make nice with the "Muslim street." Rather, Sept. 11 denial is a symptom of the spread of traditional anti-Semitism. The virus of Jew-hatred is deeply entrenched in contemporary Muslim society, and it is feeding a culture that glorifies terrorism against Americans and Jews.
What is needed most now is a reformation in the Islamic world that would recognize the abyss into which Muslim society has sunk; it might prove to be the beginning of a process in which peace and reconciliation with other faiths would become a priority. Until that happens, we must recognize that Sept. 11 denial is not a Western or Jewish public relations failure, but the tip of an Islamist iceberg of hatred.