For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
CIA chief Leon Panetta says al-Qaida is at its weakest point since before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. He’s probably right, though the amount of decline in the last three years or so has probably not been large.
Most of the damage to al-Qaida was done during the preceding administration and that’s a statement of fact not of political viewpoint. After all, depriving al-Qaida of its base in Afghanistan and Taliban ally—the most important actions damaging the group—took place a decade ago. And with a few lucky breaks, for example if passengers on that Detroit-bound plane had been less alert, al-Qaida might well have new massacres to brag about.
But the most important question is not who should get credit for weakening al-Qaida—a terrorist group, by the way, that could make Panetta’s optimistic statement look foolishly premature by a single major successful attack on any day of the week—but how one should regard that organization.
In terms of launching terrorist attacks on the territory of the United States or on U.S. installations abroad, al-Qaida certainly has been the number-one threat. The group’s decline is certainly a good thing and both administrations deserve credit for fighting that battle.
But focusing on al-Qaida, now listed as the sole enemy of the United States in what used to be called the war on terrorism but is now called something or other--leaves out two things of great importance which often seem to be missing in the Obama Administration’s policy.
First, the longer-term historical importance of al-Qaida has not been to be the revolutionary impetus in its own name but the inspiration for a great increase in revolutionary Islamist activity in many places. An increase in anti-American terrorism was a key element in this process but is only one part of the picture. Al-Qaida’s role has been particularly important in Iraq, Yemen, and to a lesser extent in North Africa.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"