On this ninth anniversary of that dreadful day, Robert Fisk notes the irony of Palin and Gingrich objecting to the building of a mosque in lower Manhattan. They are arguing, "as if 9/11 was an onslaught on Jesus-worshipping Christians, rather than on the atheist West."
He is right, of course. It is our secularism which they abhor, rather than our religiosity.
But both sides have been quick to bring God into the equation, arguing that they are fighting on His side.
Bin Laden sits in his cave 100% sure that he is carrying out the work of God, just as Palin is convinced that she is doing the same. And Pastor Terry Jones awaits His signal on whether or not he should burn the Qur'an.
And God? Where does he fit in? An archive of quotations suggests that just about every monster created in or after 9/11 is a follower of this quixotic redeemer. Bin Laden prays to God – "to turn America into a shadow of itself", as he told me in 1997 – and Bush prayed to God and Blair prayed – and prays – to God, and all the Muslim killers and an awful lot of Western soldiers and Dr (honorary) Pastor Terry Jones and his 30 (or it may be 50, since all statistics are hard to come by in the "war on terror") pray to God. And poor old God, of course, has had to listen to these prayers as he always sits through them during our mad wars. Recall the words attributed to him by a poet of another generation: "God this, God that, and God the other thing. 'Good God,' said God, 'I've got my work cut out'." And that was just the First World War...
Just five years ago – on the fourth anniversary of the twin towers/Pentagon/Pennsylvania attacks – a schoolgirl asked me at a lecture in a Belfast church whether the Middle East would benefit from more religion. No – less religion! – I howled back. God is good for contemplation, not for war.
What did God ever do to deserve so many idiots to be the interpreters of His wishes?
How, nine years after 9-11, do we end up listening to Palin and Gingrich bloviating about a mosque in lower Manhattan, yet ignore what all of this is actually about?
To point that out, of course, is almost heresy. It is the link which one is not allowed to make.
And of course, the one taboo subject of which we must not speak – Israel's relationship with America, and America's unconditional support for Israel's theft of land from Muslim Arabs – also lies at the heart of this terrible crisis in our lives. In yesterday's edition of The Independent, there was a photograph of Afghan demonstrators chanting "death to America". But in the background, these same demonstrators were carrying a black banner with a message in Dari written upon it in white paint. What it actually said was: "The bloodsucking Zionist government regime and the Western leaders who are indifferent [to suffering] and have no conscience are again celebrating the new year by spilling the red blood of the Palestinians."
The message is as extreme as it is vicious – but it proves, yet again, that the war in which we are engaged is also about Israel and "Palestine". We may prefer to ignore this in "the West" – where Muslims supposedly "hate us for what we are" or "hate our democracy" (see: Bush, Blair and a host of other mendacious politicians) – but this great conflict lies at the heart of the "war on terror".
Nine years after 9-11, nine years in which hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and maimed, it is still considered bad form to point out any link between the events of that day and Israel's colonial mission to steal Palestinian land.
It is ironic in the extreme that the United States, the country which recognised Britain's colonialism as the evil which it was, now finds itself the world's greatest supporter of this planet's last colonial project.
And it's not as if bin Laden has hidden his motivations:
"The reason for our dispute with you is your support for your ally Israel, occupying our land in Palestine."And yet, as Obama seeks to bring a final reconciliation between both Israel and Palestine - the one thing which even Tony Blair admitted might do more than anything else to bring this madness to an end - we see American politicians lining up to insist that Obama is being "counter productive" and insisting that he must seek peace, but seek peace only "on Israel's terms."
Nine years on, we have learnt nothing.
Click here for Fisk's article.