It is admirable that British police foiled a spectacular terror attack this past summer, and equally noble that the United States has been so supportive to Britain in the war on terror.
But what is of concern is the hour-by-hour, obsessive rhetoric about al Qaeda, al Qaeda and al Qaeda.
We have an appalling situation in Great Britain, where the BBC and BAFTA-winning filmmakers like Adam Curtis use Dr Azzam Tammimi, an avowed enemy of Israel, as ‘spokesman’ on television programmes. I tell my stunned American colleagues about the proliferation of Muslim ‘spokespeople’ who pepper the airwaves from dawn until dusk, pontificating about every subject under the sun. In the past eighteen months these experts, ranging from Shami Chakrabarti, Faisal ‘Israel Has No Right to Exist’ Bodi, Sir Iqbal ‘I boycott Holocaust Memorial Day’ Sacranie, Mohammed Abdul-Bari, Ghada Karmi, Ahdaf Soueif, Abdul Bari-Atwan and many others have been particularly ubiquitous since July 7, 2005. This is because those in authority in Britain felt that ‘reaching out to the Muslim community’ would prevent further terror attacks.
To add to this, various liberal and left-wing activists, as well as mainstream politicians, have enjoyed unprecedented access to the media in their campaigns to blame George Bush and his Zionist neoconservative cabal for the ‘Muslim rage’ rampaging across Great Britain from Glasgow to Cardiff to Luton to London. The new head of the Muslim Council is said to want to see a limited degree of sharia law brought to Britain. The ‘Father of the House of Commons,’ Tam Dalyell MP, blames a cabal of Jews for American foreign policy that so enrages young British Muslims.
I attended the Islam Channel’s ‘Global Peace and Unity Conference’ at the ExCel Centre in London in December, 2005, thinking it would be a celebration of Islamic/Arab/Asian culture, food and literature. Since I cannot visit Pakistan, Libya, Sudan, Syria or other Muslim connubations because I would be detained and perhaps beheaded, I felt this was a way to enjoy Islamic culture in safety and security. Sadly I was in for a rude awakening.
Behind a large grey curtain was a crowd of 25,000 angry young Muslims being whipped up to a Jihadist frenzy all day by a succession of viscerally hostile white British agitators that included the keffieh-clad lawyer Michael Mansfield QC, Yvonne Ridley and George Galloway MP. Ridley described Israel as ‘that vile little nation’ and the British police as ‘Jackboot Britain.’ Galloway exhorted the crowd to express its hatred of the USA and Israel by taking to the streets. The former cricketer and avowed opponent of Gen Musharraf, Imran Khan, gave a bizarre speech about the poor Germans between the World Wars being like the Muslim world today, humiliated by the Western powers.
Not once in the entire day did anyone mention al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. The hours and hours of rabble-rousing, mostly by British-born Muslims, concentrated on three basic enemies: the United States, Israel and Zionists, wherever they may be. The hatred and aggression of this group is something I will never forget. I felt I was in the midst of a Nuremberg-style rally and was terrified that someone would kill me if they discovered I was American-born and a staunch supporter of Israel.
I was the only non-Muslim writer and filmmaker to attend the event (my full reflection on the day may be found here).
Tonight’s al Qaeda-obsessed reporting on British and American networks is once again ignoring the point Melanie Phillips and other commentators have been trying to drive home for years: that Osama bin Laden does not need to open his mouth for British Muslims to be inspired to plan and stage horrifying atrocities.
The ‘Global Peace and Unity’ event at the ExCel centre in London in December 2005 left no doubt in my mind that a massive number of British Muslims, mostly young, have been inculcated with abject hatred of Americans and Jews and that Osama’s goading is not necessary to lead them to the ultimate martyrdom. I look at Michael Chertoff tonight and appreciate his vigilance, but he is not surrounded every day, as many of us in London are, by angry young men and women who have been born and educated in their country of domicile and who want to destroy as much as they can in the name of America-hatred and Jew-loathing.
The small community of Anglo Jewry has been at the receiving end of what Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks calls ‘a tsunami of anti-Semitism.’ This is a double-edged sword: I have met pin-striped-suited Englishmen who have told me they wish more Jews would be killed when suicide bombers attack Israel. I have met otherwise sensible Britons who become embarrassingly loud and abusive about everything under the sun in America, be it food, films, baseball or clothes. This quickly accelerates into a tirade about the Zionists bullying Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Blair into ‘crusades’ to destroy the Middle East. If sober, educated Britons can rail about Israel and the USA from one end of the British Isles to the other, this creates a lethal mix for the angry young Muslims. ‘If the local population hates the bloody Yanks and Jews as we do,’ they deduce, ‘it is open season for our dream of martyrdom in our quiet houses in Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Hampshire.’
If the eminent historian and novelist An Wilson can rail against Israel and the USA in his weekly columns, does this not give reassurance to radicals? When Brian Sewell vents about, of all things, the ‘greedy Jews’ of Manchester wanting to build a Holocaust memorial, and the aforementioned Tam Dalyell laments the ‘cabal of Jews’ that drives Anglo-American policy, do extremists not feel comforted? When the New Statesman prints a cover showing a British Union Jack flag being impaled by a Jewish Star, is this not a partnership with terrorists? When streams of commentators flood television, radio and the print media denouncing the USA and Israel, do the potential airline-bombers not feel reassured they are in heaven on earth?
One day this past summer I was in my local ‘ Halal’ ( this is not meant as a barb -- it is now a Halal- geared bank) branch of my bank when two young men became embroiled in a very public shouting match with one of the managers. She firmly told them that their account had been closed down because of ‘large amounts of money going in and going out.’ They argued that they had ‘20,000 Pounds and will just open a new account’ but she suggested they go elsewhere. It was indeed odd that the manager had been so indiscreet as to chastise these young men in public, but one had the impression these scenarios unfolded every day. I have watched young men withdraw massive amounts of cash and stuff it into their jackets or into black bags.
Should I have gone to the anti-terror police? Maybe so. But I did not, worried that I would be regarded as a paranoid Islamophobe. It is this very fear amongst the general population that also contributes to the environment of free-range terror planning.
At my local corner shop in London, run by cockney Jack for forty years, the new owners from Bangla Desh have emptied the shelves of bacon, sausages and even tinned ham and Kotex. They will no longer carry any goods that the majority local population had been buying for generations. Building societies think twice about displaying piggy banks and giving them away to children. Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the recent head of the Muslim Council of Britain, boycotts Holocaust Memorial Day and Muslim spokesman Inayat Bungalawala writes to the ‘Jewish Chronicle’ that the creation of the state of Israel was the great disaster of the last century. The Muslim Public Affairs Council UK (MPACUK) allows shocking rhetoric onto its website but is not proscribed and is opening new branches in Ilford and Birmingham.
These ‘leaders’ should be bringing their people together with other religious groups in Britain, but what I have seen in the past year has confirmed my worst fears: that the British Muslim community is moving farther and farther away from the tranquil assimilation that every other ethnic and religious group has enjoyed in the United Kingdom. When I first came to England over thirty years ago, brilliant professionals who had not been born here were storming the creative scene, Tom Stoppard, Herbert Wise, Ken Adam amongst them. Other fine minds who have contributed to the rich tapestry of British culture have come from Italy, Africa, the West Indies and America, and they have integrated with ease. From what I saw at the alarming ‘Global Peace and Unity Conference,’ British Muslim youth are not joining the ranks of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, the Royal Ballet or the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
It is not Osama who is driving the spectacular rise of terror in Britain. It is the support from the white population, the Israel-bashing from public figures -- London Mayor Ken Livingstone being a prime agitator -- and the support the radicals feel they enjoy from a large swath of Britain that is creating this happy breeding ground. The church has obsessed about boycotting Israel, the media fixate on ‘Zionist conspiracies’ and the imams, many of whom do not speak English, exhort their young worshippers to anything but ballet lessons, football sessions or outings to the Natural History Museum.
The American and British authorities need to get real about the threat from Britain and Europe and stop concentrating all of their attentions on the madrassahs of Pakistan. The elderly white Highlander and war hero who gave me a lift from the train station to my Scottish holiday hotel spent the entire trip berating me about the evils the Jews, Yanks and Zionists have inflicted on the world. If he is so full of rage, what is the Muslim population feeling, when they know his ilk will give them succour?
What has happened in Britain in this turbulent year did not surprise me. Those of us who live there, in the ‘coming Caliphate,’ know that the threat is huge, is massively supported and may never be extinguished. I am not hopeful.
[To see the Muslim rage, click here]
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