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When the Obama administration banned the terms Islamic extremism and jihad from US national security documents back on April 7, 2010, the United States began a new approach toward the war on terror. No longer would the ideological or religious elements that had driven the 9/11 attackers be emphasized. Any terms insinuating the religious zeal that inspires and has inspired suicide bombers from Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere across the world, have been hastily filed away in the cabinet known as the ill-conceived Bush Doctrine.
Instead, the Obama adminsitration formulated a new set of terms to showcase the White House’s new and improved outreach to the Muslim world. On the same day that the Associated Press carried the ‘banned terms’ news release, the assistant to President Obama on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, John Brennan spoke with law students at New York University, where he referred to Jerusalem by its Arabic name, Al-Quds.
A month later on May 28, President Obama informed the world that the “war on terror” was over. “Our long-term security will not come from our ability to instill fear in other peoples but through our capacity to speak to their hopes,” the US President explained in a message introducing his administration’s new national security strategy. Terms like new partnerships, multilateral diplomacy, and tough engagement surfaced in the document, all leading to Obama’s point that “to succeed, we must face the world as it is.”
It would be safe to surmise that in Barack Obama’s world, there are no ideological-driven terrorists (only al-Qaeda), jihad against non-Muslims does not exist, and Jerusalem is a city exclusively rooted in an Islamic past, whose Jewish heritage starting from King David in 1000 BCE, bears no relevance at all to the Middle East today.
But for the residents in the southern region of Israel, the U.S. President’s attempts to recreate a new Middle East through glossed-up verbiage remains a very distant fantasy.
For the 111,000 residents of Ashkelon, located 21 kilometers (13 miles) away from the Gaza Strip, this past Friday, July 30, was a terrifying day. An Iranian Grad missile launched from Gaza exploded in the heart of a residential neighborhood, damaging buildings and vehicles and sending two civilian Israelis hospitalized for shock. A rocket alert that had residents racing to shelters, prevented more serious casualties.
The following Saturday night, July 31, an upgraded Qassam rocket fired against Sderot directly struck a children’s hydrotherapy rehabilitation center in Sderot’s Sapir College, setting off the Color Red alarm. (Sderot Media Center documented the terrible damage, available on CNN). The center, which provides therapy and workshops for hundreds of special-needs kids from across Israel until 10 at night on weekdays, was closed because of the Jewish Sabbath.
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