Sunday, July 31, 2005

Bloody news cycle!

Am hoping this will be the last Israel/Iraq/London-related rant for a while. Confound the news cycle, with its constant dredging up of nonsensical opinions that get my goat.

So here's a little round-up of some decent articles and comments I have come across in the past week or so, which go some way to rebalancing the perverse "neutrality" of the reportage of the Axis of Evil (Independent, BBC, CNN).

Victor Davis Hanson's superb op-ed, "And then they came after us", really sticks it to those of us who thought that our little Treaty of Khudaibiya with the jihadis would prevent attacks on Londonistan. Hanson also points out that the jihadis have chosen their targets with the potential level of reprisal in mind:

"Meanwhile an odd thing happened. It turns out that the jihadists were cowards and bullies, and thus selective in their targets of hatred. A billion Chinese were left alone by radical Islam — even though the Chinese were secularists and mostly godless, as well as ruthless to their own Uighur Muslim minorities. Had bin Laden issued a fatwa against Beijing and slammed an airliner into a skyscraper in Shanghai, there is no telling what a nuclear China might have done."

I then found another Hanson article tucked away at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, entitled "The same-old same-old", which suggests that as the events of 7/7 recede in our memories, our indignance at being attacked on home soil will turn into resentment of Blair for exposing us to danger with "his" foray into Iraq (er, but we still voted for him, didn't we!).

On the same site, I came across Yossi Klein Halevi's excellent piece pointing out how the entire platform for debate has been tilted by the media, UN and Arabist foreign ministries across the EU, supported by any regime that gets paid off by members of the Arab League. Writing shortly after last year's ludicrous judgement at the ICJ in the Hague, he states:

"Israel's claim to territory over the Green Line is based on at least two compelling arguments. The first is that it won the land in the most honorable way that any nation ever reclaimed its historical heartland - a defensive war of survival. The second is that the territory itself has long been disputed: The Jordanian occupation of the West Bank was never recognized by the international community, and no subsequent claim has been legally endorsed - that is, until the Hague's decision."

He also shows what the underlying reasons why the Palestinians and their friends don't want the fence there:

"According to the new Bush Doctrine, Israel will not be expected to withdraw to the 1967 borders. And Palestinian refugees will return only to a Palestinian state. That doctrine undermines the two key elements of the Palestinians' long-term strategy to undermine Israel's viability: first, forcing Israel back to the Green Line, and then overwhelming the Jewish state with refugees... The fence puts a brake on both those processes. It marks the security line that may well become Israel's political border. And it prevents the infiltration of Palestinian refugees into Israel."

"But with a name like Yossi Halevi Klein, the author is unlikely to be impartial", I hear the fair-minded readers amongst you cry. OK, how about I balance it up with this interview with Sheikh Professor Abdul Hadi Palazzi, spiritual head of the Italian Muslim Assembly. Now this is the kind of guy who is a proponent of the kind of Islam that co-exists beautifully with Western democratic values. It is one of the most extraordinary interviews I have ever read. Here is an excerpt:

"Using Islam as a basis for preventing Arabs from recognizing any sovereign right of Jews over the Land of Israel is new. Such beliefs are not found in classical Islamic sources. Concluding that anti-Zionism is the logical outgrowth of Islamic faith is wrong. This conclusion represents the false transformation of Islam from a religion into a secularized ideology."

With challenges to Islam coming from every direction, Youssef Ibrahim asks in the Middle East Times whether "The Muslim mind is on fire". He asks for the moderates to remove themselves from the extremists not only on moral grounds (we have heard plenty of soundbites on that from Iqbal Sacranie and other moral degenerates who see users of Egged buses as more deserving of being blown to pieces than users of London buses), but on practical grounds. He points out the West's ability to rally and face down even the greatest of opposition as they did with Soviet Russia. He concludes thus:

"I fear those naïve Muslims who think that they are beating the West have now achieved their worst crime of all. The West is now going to war against not only Muslims, but also, sadly, Islam as a religion."

Meanwhile, the Grauniad managed to rain on my parade by publishing this glorious piece of ostrich-like opinion. In "Back to you, Mr Blair", Osama Saeed of the Muslim Association of Britain (an organisation of Jew-haters, and friends of Galloway), says it's not their fault and they shouldn't offer to help fight terrorism because this would imply they might be to blame in some way:

"By putting the onus on Muslims to defeat terror, the prime minister absolves himself of responsibility. Muslims are not in denial of our duties, but who are we meant to be combating? The security services had no idea about all that has gone on in London, so how are we as ordinary citizens to do better? It is not Muslims but Mr Blair who is in denial."

Good old Irshad Manji comes steaming in to expound on "Reality and Islam", and gets right to the crux of the matter. She pulls together a number of articles by Judea Pearl, Charles Krauthammer and others, and exposes the root problem which is being denied by the liberal appeasers and ignored by the conservative do-gooders. According to her, those who commit and support terrorism, wherever it occurs, need to be publicly excommunicated from Islam. That, she says, is the only way to provide assurance that Islam is a religion of peace. Unfortunately, even those clerics who concur are either fearful of speaking out or unable to find the juridical tools within Islam to perform such a thing. She quotes from a "piece about a clerically star-studded conference on Islam in Jordan this month" by Judea Pearl's op-ed in the Boston Globe:

"...using the Islamic instruments of fatwa, apostasy and fasad (corruption), Muslims would be able to disassociate themselves from those who hijacked their religion... Unfortunately, the realization of these expectations will need to wait for a brave new leadership to emerge. The final communique of the Amman conference, issued July 6, states explicitly: 'It is not possible to declare as apostates any group of Muslims who believes in Allah the Mighty and Sublime and His Messenger (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) and the pillars of faith, and respects the pillars of Islam and does not deny any necessary article of religion.'"

And if that wasn't enough, Manji writes in Time magazine about "When denial can kill", an exposé on how the only people who seriously think the suicide bombers are victims driven to their murderous finale by despair and oppression are Westerners who use the crutch of Christian logic and morality, and Muslims who cannot bear to admit that admit that "our religion might be motivating the bombers".

This leads me to two more articles which tackle the two halves of this denial.

In Mark Steyn's column in The Australian, he shows how well-meaning Westies have been "Mugged by reality". He points out that our political correctness and constant concerns about discrimination have left us vulnerable to attack, and have hardly created the multicultural utopia that we imagined would be the result of gambling security for civil liberties:

The more the Islamists step on our toes, the more we waltz them gaily round the room."

In Meg Bortin's article in the International Herald Tribune, we read about how Muslims lament Israel's existence:

"Muslims lined up strongly behind the opinion that 'the rights and needs of the Palestinian people cannot be taken care of as long as the state of Israel exists.' The conviction that no way can be found for Israel and the Palestinians to coexist is strongest in Morocco (90 percent), followed by Jordan (85 percent), the Palestinian Authority (80 percent), Kuwait (72 percent), Lebanon (65 percent), Indonesia (58 percent) and Pakistan (57 percent)."

Unfortunately, they don't seem to have a terribly good plan for what happens after they obliterate Israel and force Europe to its knees - what an outstanding line-up for the Khilafah; a glorious spiritual, political and royal triumvirate:

"Bin Laden was one of the three "leaders" most trusted by the nine Muslim populations surveyed, outranking even the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan. The Qaeda leader's confidence rating was matched only by Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia."

John Avlon's excellent anecdote on Real Clear Politics demonstrates "No evidence of moral equivalence" in Iraq. In fact, it shows exactly the kind of courage under fire and respect for the sanctity of all human life that demonstrates why George Bush's "crusader" rhetoric on axes of evil, with us or against us and so on, is most fitting for our time.

On our side, Abu Ghraib is the exception; but this, along with British troops removing their helmets in civilian areas to reassure the public at great personal risk, is the rule. On their side, the safe passage of the missing US airman granted by Pashtun tribes at risk of reprisal from the Taleban was a wonderful exception; New York, Moscow, Beslan, Bali, Jerusalem, Netanya, Tel Aviv, Sharm el Sheikh, Aden, Washington DC, Madrid, London, Casablanca, Djerba, Istanbul, Khobar, Mombasa and Dar es Salaam are the rule.

"Suppose that invading Iraq has made us more vulnerable — what then?" asks Gerard Baker in The Times. He drives home his points on how we cannot blame ourselves for the bombings on our doorstep. In fact, they are almost a demonstration of the fact that we are doing the right thing. He makes it clear that the enemy of all decent, freedom-loving people - Muslim and infidel - is the suicide bomber and his terrorist methods of imposing his beliefs:

"Above all we should point out that what we are fighting in Iraq is not some brave, popular “insurgency” struggling to free the Arab people from Western and Zionist oppression, but a coalition of some of the most vile individuals who have ever crawled the earth and who happily slaughter Muslim, Christian and Jew alike for their own ends."

It's been a long posting; thanks for sticking with me to the end. Two more op-eds from The Times to wrap up. Firstly, an echo of an earlier Freedmanslife posting in Ben Macintyre's probing "
How would Churchill have answered the Islamist threat?" He for one admires Churchillian qualities, and recognises them in moments of Blairite statesmanship in the past few weeks. He is also fairly certain of where Churchill would stand on this debate were he alive:

"For in the end, Churchill saw the Sudan campaign as a conflict between barbarity and civilisation. Of the battle of Omdurman he wrote: “Civilisation — elsewhere sympathetic, merciful, tolerant, ready to discuss or argue, eager to avoid violence, to submit to law, to effect compromise — here advanced with an expression of inexorable sternness.”

That, undoubtedly, would have been Churchill’s response to the suicide bombings in London: these are not disasters to be “tamely survived” but an immoral assault on civilised values, to be fought with “inexorable sternness”."

The last word goes to Libby Purves. In "The land that lost its pride", she points out that "much of the society that Muslims long for looks uncannily like the Britain we threw away." She not only dissects the current incidents and their effect on our society, but has spotted a deeper malaise that has been troubling me and many friends (especially the ones who have lived abroad) for some time:

"London has a steadying sense of its own long greatness. Yet Britain in general is losing that sense. Cynical reactions to the shooting illustrate how ready we are to proclaim our defects, calling our police trigger-happy just as we dismiss our soldiers as thugs to be turned over to civil lawyers rather than be court-martialled by people who understand war. We are swift in defeatism and expect humiliation (getting the Olympics was a shock). We neurotically shoulder guilt for colonial crimes of long ago."

She is equally perceptive that other aspects of British society, which have degenerated into a disgusting underculture in which mediocrity is accepted and thrived upon, are offensive to British Muslims - but should also be offensive to the rest of us. I do not believe that any country is perfect, nor for a moment would I suggest that our own repulsive behaviour has created the monsters within who blew up our Tube trains, but I do agree with her that a better society would present a real alternative for those who are caught in the middle ground between a pure but stringent Islam and a filthy but liberated Britain:

"Ziauddin Sardar wrote yesterday that “the moral values that guide (Muslims) do have a place in Britain”. Up to a point: on homosexuality and women’s place we will always differ. But many Muslim values are eerily similar to the lost social consensus that made Britain the open, generous, free country that it basically is. Bombast is not the answer. But neither is shrugging self-disgust. Muslims and Middle Britain could fight some good fights, hand in hand."


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