- The Washington Times - Friday, January 7, 2005

A devout Muslim in Indonesia or Sri Lanka, listening to the growl in his empty belly and watching the sky darkening with American rescue helicopters, might offer a prayer of gratitude to Allah for Christians and Jews.

The rich and oily Middle Eastern kingdoms, fiefdoms and oligarchies have donated only pittances for tsunami relief, like alms tossed to beggars at the village gate. The greedy rulers are no doubt grateful to the imams who are telling their mosques that most of those who drowned, Muslims as well as vacationing infidels, deserved to die because they were only on the beaches to “fornicate.” Islam is not about grace, amazing or otherwise.

Saudi Arabia first said it would donate $10 million, about what King Fahd might spend when he takes his wives and concubines to Paris or New York for a week of shopping and imbibing the forbidden pleasures of the satanic West. He raised it to $30 million when certain chagrined Muslims made grumbling noises about what can only be called Arab piggery. All told, the four big oil states, which collect $15 billion in oil revenues every month, agreed to spend $70 million to assist brother Muslims.

But Christians and Jews at the White House are whistlin’ Dixie (ever so discreetly, of course) if they think the vast outpouring of American tsunami aid will win any hearts or change many minds.

The sight of Marines dropping food and clothing from the air, or of Navy corpsmen consoling children with shots and pills, can make Americans feel good about themselves for doing what good Christians and observant Jews know they ought to do. Gratitude in the wake of a tidal wave, on the other hand, is as scarce as a dry shirt and pants.

Nevertheless, the learning curve along Pennsylvania Avenue looks to be a steep one. The well-meaning Colin Powell told reporters after his inspection flight over hell, as he described the scene of death and destruction in Indonesia, that he’s a cockeyed optimist. “I hope that as a result of our efforts, as a result of our helicopter pilots being seen by the citizens of Indonesia helping them, the value system of ours will be reinforced [in the minds of the Muslims].”

Alas, not likely. Gratitude and politics, like oil and water, rarely mix short of a tsunami. Muslims may like the taste of the groceries, particularly on an empty stomach, and may even admire the American efficiency in delivering the groceries, but after decades of being poisoned by embittered imams and other merchants of hate, the Islamic masses are not likely to do much admiring once their hunger abates.

“It’s not because [Americans] are not generous enough,” James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, tells the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s because [American] generosity of spirit has not applied to the issue that’s most problematic for them. It’s not responsive to why people in the Arab world are furious with America. The region has its own tsunami.”

Most of the Muslims who died under the waves were not Arabs, of course, but it’s the Arabs who have poisoned the masses against modern civilization. Islamic hatred of America is mostly about Israel, for “one-sided” support for Israel’s life-or-death defense against the Palestinian campaign to kill the Jews.

Even in Indonesia and Malaysia, where a generation ago Muslim and “infidel” lived together in an easy and companionable way, resentment has been nurtured by Islamist agitators, Jew-baiters and America haters. Al Jazeera, the network of Osama bin Laden’s jeremiads against civilization, is working now to establish a broadcasting service in Kuala Lumpur to broadcast to South Asia from the Malaysian capital.

The rich Islamic governments are too absorbed in their own indifference to notice the suffering of others. Without the generosity of Christians and Jews, in America and elsewhere, a lot of Muslims would be starving this morning. The Europeans, even the French, have surprised themselves with their generosity. The Israelis are sending food and medicines to those who revile them, no questions asked. The value of American aid, including military and private charities, will run into the billions. The compassion circus keeps expanding.

Gratitude is not necessary. God will bless us, every one. That’s enough for any Christian or Jew.

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times

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