One of the most-repeated observations in the British media since the tragic bombings of July 7 is "we were all asleep or we would have noticed these radicals in our midst." Other publications and broadcast media have noted that new generations of young Muslims are now even more alienated than were their immigrant parents. Many writers are identifying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Iraq war as catalysts that inspired the terror attacks on London.
What has become crystal clear over these difficult weeks since the bombings is that the verbal attacks against Americans and Jews have not really abated. Since returning from the USA, I have been told that "Americans are the rudest of all the tourists -- they knock people down and bang into one at Harrods without even saying sorry." Frankly, having experienced Americans inside their own country for nearly ten months, I find this hard to believe. If a Yank so much as brushes by one, there is a gushing "Oh, my heavens, I am so sorry! Excuse me, ma’am." My mouth hung open on many an occasion in big cities as bus drivers and dustmen bent over backwards to enquire after my welfare and instruct me on the safest way to get home. In big department stores, even at Macy’s in tough old Manhattan, I found shoppers infinitely more polite and friendly than we Londoners are wont to be on an average day.
During the past five years, it has become increasingly more difficult to be American, Jewish or a war supporter in the UK and Europe. After my piece appeared in the Guardian last year, the American director of the Mori Poll organization chastised me for exaggerating the anti-Americanism in the UK. Maybe he has been lucky; many Americans live out a prosperous life in Great Britain and die without any abuse. (I would be curious to know if Beverly Malone, the African American head of the British Nursing Association survived her tenure without any gibes.) I must be one of the less fortunate ones.
But let us move away from the personal to a broader perspective. There is no doubting the evidence that since the al Aqsa Intifadah started in September 2000, the level of animosity towards the United States and Israel has risen in the European media. One has heard, "You Jews use the Holocaust as a convenient excuse to validate the existence of the apartheid state of Israel," so has one heard the comments about the USA using 9/11 as an excuse to tighten its border controls and demand ID from anyone traveling within or into the USA.
The British media began to obsess on Israel and the USA after 9/11, the vilest coverage appearing in The Daily Mirror on 4th July 2002. (Note that this was long before the Iraq War or Abu Ghraib.) Here was a widely-read daily publication branding the USA a "Rogue State" and using John Pilger -- whose detestation-in-print of the USA and Israel is breathtaking -- to write a piece condemning Americans on the occasion of their first Independence Day holiday since 9/11. In The Guardian, Faisal Bodi wrote 'Israel Simply Has no Right to Exist,' and the art critic Brian Sewell reflected in The Evening Standard that the Jews of Manchester were somehow greedy to want a modest Holocaust memorial museum. Innumerable editorials appeared about the Zionist cabal influencing Blair and Bush, and the dreaded Americans bringing those ugly Starbucks cafes to Primrose Hill.
All through the years of vilification, culminating in the awful experience on the London bus that many people say I imagined in my October 2004 Guardian piece, precious little column space has been spent condemning the activities of scores of radical groups operating openly and without impunity across Great Britain. In these columns we reported, starting in 2002, on the hate literature and speeches generated by countless extremist groups in London and further afield. (Samples can be found here.)
Whilst this was unfolding under our noses, endless British column inches and magazine front covers were appearing condemning America, Zionists and Israel as if these were the prime threats to the safety of your average Briton. Long before the invasion of Iraq -- seen by many in the UK as an excuse by American Zionist neocons to help Israel expand -- the New Statesman magazine was using the image of a Star of David impaling a Union Jack on its front cover to espouse a theory that we were in the throes of "A Kosher Conspiracy." There are 260,000 Jews in Britain and over one and a half million Muslims. The idea that the British media saw some sort of evil threat to the survival of Blighty from the meager citizenry of an exemplary, industrious and high-achieving minority was and is scurrilous when in Edgware Road bookshops were openly selling volumes about jihad and the glory thereof.
Even now, speeches are being made at events around the UK about the "vile" Israel and the genocidal USA. Notwithstanding the appalling business practices of Malcolm Glazer reported by ITV in its documentary about the American tycoon, the fury of the Manchester crowds over his purchase of the legendary Manchester United soccer team is a disturbing over-reaction that looks not unlike a Mosley Black Shirt rally in 1930s Cable Street. Readers have said we in these columns underestimate the rage felt by Britons over the takeover by a Yank of a famous team, but the "Die, Glazer, Die" banners and shouts of homicidal abuse are as terrifying as the burning of the Stars and Stripes in Grosvenor Square in May of this year by Muslim radicals.
One can hear cries of "But the US provoked the Muslim world with Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, and Israel with its occupation," but the literature being disseminated in Trafalgar Square in 2002 was frightening and inciting and was printed long before the Iraq War. Likewise the highest number of suicide attacks inside Israel occurred during the Oslo era, when Yitzhak Rabin was endeavoring to end Israel's military presence in lands won in the 1967 war. ("Won" means a war fought by one little nation against six Arab armies churned up by Nasser's exhortations to seek the total annihilation of the Jewish State.)
Those of us who saw merit in the removal of Saddam Hussein understand what the big picture is: Blair, Bush and Howard of Australia saw the need for a strengthened Iraq in the shadow of a growing fundamentalist wave trying to swamp Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan and Egypt. Perhaps the USA and its allies should become isolationist and not care what happens to these countries. The problem is that radicals in the thousands across the UK (103 in Birmingham alone where it is reported that only one preaches in English, compared to a brace of churches and a handful of synagogues) see the great Islamic Caliphate and world state emerging across Europe, or as Bat Ye’or calls it, "Eurabia," and that the triumph of a repressive permutation of a great religion and culture will herald the European Caliphate. At the time of this writing, Iran is saber-rattling but the BBC, in turn, is doing a feature about the Israeli nuclear threat and the fact that Britain delivered 20 tons of heavy water to the Jewish State without telling a then-hostile-to-Israel USA several decades ago.
These little diversions -- the BBC targeting Israel when Iran has gone ahead and broken the UN seals at its plants -- are bizarre and painful to watch, when at the end of the day the USA and Israel are not threatening the world with a collapse into the dark ages that will see the dismembering of homosexuals and subjugation of women, not to mention the annihilation of Israel and slaughter of Jews, Christians, Sikhs and Hindus in a holy war.
It is time the obsessive haters of Jews and Yanks turned their energies to the threat within our benighted shores. Jews and Americans cannot be blamed for the riots in Bradford and Burnley in 2001. Jews and Americans do not wish harm to come to British people, but endless streams of fulminating imams, on TV, on the Internet and in the streets of London do, and that is why it would benefit all of us living in the UK to stop vilifying Americans and Jews and start understanding what we have to deal with in our island nation -- a fifth column that wants death to come to all of us if their dream of a Caliphate cannot be realized.
Last week the BBC and Channel Four showed material about the Hiroshima bomb. All across British mainstream, primetime television and radio, revisionist history was informing a new generation of viewers that the gum-chewing, gung-ho Yanks just got up one morning and decided to incinerate 150,000 "Japs." Never once did they tell the history of Japanese expansionism, ruthless colorizations and enslavements of swathes of Asia nor was the sadistic treatment of male and female allied prisoners of war ever mentioned. (My mother visited women who had been rescued from Japanese camps and who were in American veterans’ hospitals; they were never released into society because they were rendered human wrecks by the Japanese torturers.) The European and British media have sought to demonize Israel, and, to a lesser extent the USA by never explaining the historical context of the creation of Israel or America’s valiant efforts to sustain Western democracy around the world, and this has led to the abuse one receives "on the street" from ordinary Britons and Europeans who have been taught to hate these demon-nations.
If anyone, including Margaret Drabble, who wrote the visceral "I loathe America" column in the Telegraph in May 2003, can find one Jew or American living in the UK who wishes harm to come to any Briton, I would like to hear from them. Bush and Sharon may be loathsome to many, but their citizens are not roaming our streets calling for a holy war against us. Think hard on that one, and in the words of the colonial flag, "Don't tread on me."
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