Magazine article The Spectator

This Is Only One Front in a Global Conflict: And the Islamists Are Winning

Magazine article The Spectator

This Is Only One Front in a Global Conflict: And the Islamists Are Winning

Article excerpt

Truth is generally the first casualty in war. On the battlefields of the Middle East, especially when Israel is involved, Reason also has a hard time of it. For neither Israel nor the Jews are seen -- whether by themselves, by their friends, or by their foes -- as a nation and a people like others.

One form of irrationality, shared by (some) evangelical Christians and (some) Jews, has it that Israel is the 'Zion' of prophecy, part of God's plan, with its borders fixed for eternity by the Almighty. A contrary irrationality denies Israel's right to exist, or regards Israel as not a nation at all.

In the words of Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, in April 2000, it is merely a 'cancerous body in the region'. Or, according to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's 'Supreme Leader', speaking last Sunday -- and breaking new medical ground -- Israel is an 'infectious tumour for the entire Islamic world'.

Even the lesser irrationalities on the subject of Israel disturb. It is smaller in area than Sardinia or Wales, with only half the population of Mexico City, but its potency, like that of the allegedly world-conquering Jews themselves, is inflated to an inordinate degree. Conversely, the notion that Israel is presently engaged in 'a fight for its very existence' is an equally irrational assertion.

With its formidable military arsenal, and armed forces which can easily outgun its local foes, it is not, or not yet, in such danger. But similarly irrational is Israel's vow to 'destroy Hezbollah'. The right arm of the advancing power of Iran, the so-called 'Party of God', cannot now be 'destroyed'.

Nevertheless, unreason, whether it be Islam's or Judaeo-Christianity's, has its uses. One man's 'tumour' may be another's 'Promised Land', yet such beliefs serve both in their Manichean ordering of the world -- a world of darkness and light, good and evil, which overrides the true complexity of things. It is the same kind of simplistic ordering which the concept of the 'bourgeois' and 'proletarian' provided, once upon a time, to the Marxist; and the same kind of ordering which, for today's Islamofascist, makes Muslims and 'infidels' into two neardistinct human species. It is a distinction comparable with that made by Nazism between 'Aryans' and the inferior races, Jews chief among them.

In the latest outbreak of hostilities in the Middle East, as Israeli forces strike Beirut and southern Lebanon on one side, and Hezbollah's missiles target Haifa and various Israeli townships on the other, calls for 'diplomacy' and a 'negotiated settlement' between the combatants are also less rational or practical than they may seem. So too are proposals for the 'deployment of peacekeepers' and the stationing of 'buffer forces' in southern Lebanon and Gaza. For the desire to see Israel extinguished on the one hand, and on the other the declaration by Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, that there are 'moments in the life of a nation when it is compelled to say "No more"', are not reconcilable: a truce can be only temporary.

Similarly, between Nasrallah's assertion in October 2002 that if the Jews 'all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide', and Olmert's assertion that 'only a nation which can protect its freedom deserves it', there is no possibility of finding a genuine or lasting via media.

Moreover the parties themselves know it.

They have known it for decades -- Camp David, 'road maps' and all the other 'initiatives' notwithstanding.

Despite the heat and harm-doing of the present local warfare, the battlefront in the Levant is merely one front, and a minor front at that, in the wider conflict between the Islamic and the non-Muslim worlds.

Moreover, the time for serious diplomacy and dialogue between the Muslim and the kafir has not yet come. Indeed, it may never come until one or other of the forces in this war of the worlds -- a war now being fought, with differing degrees of intensity and in different ways, from Afghanistan to the Horn of Africa, from the Caucasus to Kashmir, from Nigeria to Xinjiang, and from the Levant to South-East Asia -- has finally been vanquished. …

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