The triple suicide bomb attacks in Amman, Jordan should sound a wake-up call to Arabs and Muslims around the world that it is not enough to denounce terrorism.
They must also denounce the extremists who make the terrorism possible and who wrap their violence in popular causes.
Although related to the growing conflict in neighboring Iraq, the terrorism in Jordan is a part of a larger religious-driven conflict that is empowering Muslim extremists while undermining secular moderates.
Too often, Arabs and Muslims speak from both sides of their mouths, denouncing terrorism when it targets their civilians, but remaining silent when the terrorism becomes a weapon that parallels their political agenda.
They seek to define violence based not on the morality that discourages violence, but rather based on convenience. What is the difference between the suicide bombings in Jordan and the suicide bombings in Israel?
The only difference is politics.
It’s wrong to stand up and denounce the terrorism in Jordan while remaining silent to the same kind of terrorism taking place in Israel and in Iraq, regardless of the differences in politics that each area reflects.
The number of Arabs and Muslims who were killed in the Jordan attacks continues to rise beyond the 57 so far identified, and more than 100 sustained serious injuries.
The terrorists seek to change the world. They wish to replace the secular dictatorships and monarchies in the Middle East with religious dictatorships. They seek to defend the rights of the victims of injustice, the heart of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and replace it with a religious tyranny that separates believers from non-believers.
The real conflict is between the religious extremists and secular moderates. Beneath are regional conflicts and issues of justice such as the Palestine-Israel conflict.
If moderate forces can defeat the extremists, they can then resolve the conflicts of injustice finding peace through compromise and reason.
Arabs and Muslims must define themselves apart from the growing extremist movement. They can do that by embracing principles of justice based on peace, not violence. They can do that by defining the horrendous act of suicide bombing not as a legitimate means of resistance, but as the weapon of choice for uncompromising and anti-peace religious Jihadists.
To the religious fanatic, there can neither be compromise nor peace. They are driven by religious faith which instructs the believers to act not out of reason but on the conviction that they will see a better after-life while serving an un-heavenly cause.
To these Jihadists, compromise is a form of surrender, which is why every time Palestinians and Israelis, or even Iraqis, appear to move closer toward reinvigorating peace and stabilizing their situations, the extremists strike with horrendous acts of suicide bombing violence.
In reality, the purpose of the suicide bomber is to prevent peace based on compromise and to maintain a conflict until the extremists are able to achieve a “peace” based on all out victory.
That doesn’t mean the Arabs and Muslims do not have grievances against the American war in Iraq or against Israeli policies in Palestine. They do have grievances and those grievances demand justice. But justice must be fair and reasoned. And it must be principled.
Arabs and Muslims can unequivocally denounce all forms of terrorism, including suicide bombings in Israel and in Iraq and still challenge unfair Israeli policies in the occupied West Bank or unfair American policies in Iraq.
Until the Arabs and Muslims take a firm, unequivocal stand against all forms of violence, denounce all acts of suicide bombings regardless of the targets, and speak genuinely in support of freedoms and Democracy, the events that we witnessed in Jordan will only be repeated with more devastating results.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American columnist and author. He can be reached at www.hanania.com.)