Most people don’t know who Haim Sapir is. Had he been an American, Sapir would have been declared a hero. Had he been an American, Sapir would be clamoring for his halo on the talk-show circuit. He’d have a gooey-lipped Fox network ditz, bubbling with questions like, “What went through your mind when you killed the non-terrorist Hesham Mohamed Hadayet at the El Al ticket counter, in LAX, on July 4th?”

We came to know about the slightly-built Israeli, who tackled and shot the Egyptian – not from the laconic Israelis – but from an American eyewitness, who suctioned himself to a TV camera at the first opportunity.

Americans have a tough time distinguishing real from ersatz heroes. Sapir was doing his job. He was trained to take out the enemy in 30 seconds, and he probably thinks he didn’t quite measure up. But for Americans, who live in a world festooned with symbolism and sentimentality, such matter-of-fact realities may be difficult to grasp.

When you’re given to sentimental flights of fancy, your leaders are better able to obscure the reality on the ground. For one, they can hide the fact that the military is no longer doing anything that will advance the good of its countrymen or punish the enemy. Leaders can, moreover, give the “war” its own momentum, as this administration has done, by hyping it as a symbolic war.

For example, facts and common sense indicate Iraq should not be attacked. If anything, threatening to attack a nation that has not aggressed against us is bound to make a dormant but dangerous Saddam Hussein act recklessly. To disguise these hard specifics, the administration whips up a frenzy, framing its unprovoked aggression as a symbolic battle of good against evil.

Americans, therefore, are now officially engaged in a symbolic wild-goose chase. Other than for a spot on the box, they don’t know what they are fighting for. Contrast that with the Israelis, who are fighting, very plainly, for their very survival. This explains their focus and their resolve.

There is, however, a real war – its battlefront is in our midst. With the July 4 murders, we got a lesson on how semantics can conceal the slow war of attrition here at home – where the people are the unwitting warriors, the leaders their mortal enemies.

Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, who lived here quite comfortably, is at the interface of the war at home. On July 4, politicians moved like lightning to depict Hadayet as a perpetrator of a random attack. The fact that Hadayet was a semiautomatic, sword-wielding Islamist, whose family departed mysteriously for Egypt a week prior to the Los Angeles International Airport attack, was a sheer coincidence. Or so claimed Ari Fleischer, the FBI, state politicians and almost all the pointy-heads on TV.

No administration will ever allow Americans to defend themselves by singling out and ejecting the fifth columnists living in their midst.

If the July 4 performance is anything to go by, the tack is to convince Americans that their enemies at home are simply lone lunatics. Isolated incidents, after all, don’t adequately support demands for culturally compatible immigration policies, for profiling, or for large-scale deportations – all of which need to happen if lives are to be safeguarded. In the absence of a cause for drastic change, Americans will be forced to accept their lot and … die silently.

And so it was that a speedy amen was given to the “isolated incident” theory.

Americans had to be convinced, and fast, that the war effort needs to grow just enough to support Bush’s worldwide offensive but not quite sufficiently to allow Americans to protect life at home. That is, to convince them Iraq must be attacked, but also impress upon Americans that they must continue to open their borders to enemies like the Hadayets of the world.

No surprise that the Debkafiles’ Counter-Terror Sources have information about Hadayet that is at odds with the random-event humbug. It would seem that Hadayet is an al-Qaida plant, member of a sleeper-cell, a fact seemingly supported by no less than the influential Arabic London-based Al Hayat!

It appears Hadayat was a member of the Egyptian Jihad Islami, al-Qaida’s primary operational arm. The Egyptian gunman did, in all likelihood, meet twice in California with one of the Jihad Islami chiefs, Dr. Ayman Zuwahri, also Osama bin Laden’s deputy.

The man fits the profile of the kind of terrorist who has plagued airlines and terminals for the past 20 years. But with a trick of the tongue, he was declared a mismatch, nothing but an artifact.

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