The relatives were no doubt furious at seeing pictures in the media of some Palestinians joyfully celebrating in the streets upon hearing news of 9/11; that this is disgusting need not be said. But how many Americans have considered the perspective of a Palestinian -raised in a refugee camp, told many times about how the land their family had lived on for decades was stolen by the Jews, a relative or two killed, living their whole lives under foreign occupation. (I do not think that Israel has all the responsibility and the Palestinians none; this is just the perspective of a Palestinian.) To them, America is the country that supplies and arms their oppressor, and is its main defender and benefactor. Do we give them a second thought? Most of us, no. Should we be surprised when some of them celebrate that their oppressor’s benefactor was dealt a heavy blow? I wasn’t. Appalled, yes. Surprised, no.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the question “Why do they hate us?” was often heard; I couldn’t help but be sad that 9/11 was what it took to make people even care enough to ask the question. Culturally, America and Japan are very different countries, but they both focus on their own victimhood and refuse to deeply consider how their country’s actions might have affected others. Most people do this, either as a country or as individuals. Some situations give us the chance to notice and reflect on this. The more we do, the less fuel it will give to demagogues, and the wiser and stronger our country will be.