Clearly much time and space had to be devoted to the unfolding of the Qana story. To those who think this has destroyed the blog and lost us most of our readers, we should like to point out that while the Qana story unfolded our daily hit rate went up tenfold as a minimum.
That in itself is not an argument for continuing the story for the time being. It is true that our blog is called EUReferendum and is, therefore, primarily concerned with matters to do with the European project. However, we pointed out some time ago in our manifesto that we do not consider freedom to be something that can be chopped up into pieces.
The enemies of freedom include anti-democratic transnational organizations, of whom the EU is the one attempt at a state; terrorists, often supported by the former; and the less than totally honest media. Somewhat belatedly the MSM and a number of left-wing blogs in the United States have rushed in to praise and defend Green Helmet and to assure the world that, despite all evidence, those pictures in Qana were not staged. They understand the importance of the story, though, thanks to my colleague’s vigilance and the work done by so many people, those sobbing paeans of praise to the wonderful civil defence/Red Cross worker have come a little too late.
One of the continuing themes of this blog has been the indolence and dishonesty of much of the MSM, whether on matters to do with the EU, where journalists show themselves to be incapable of finding out the most basic facts; or the mindless praise given to that nest of tyrants and kleptocrats, the UN; or the ease with which journalists have, at the very least, allowed themselves to become propaganda tools for terrorist organizations in the Middle East and, often, the Gulf.
Many of these themes have come together in the Qana story, which is intimately related to the other big news item of the last week: the supposed discovery of a huge plot to blow up a number of aeroplanes that were supposed to fly out of Britain to the United States.
Obviously, one needs to be cautious about the allegations as these have not yet been proven in a court of law. But, cautiously, we have to say that there seem to be reasonable grounds for believing them not least because the arrests in this country were followed by wide-ranging ones in a number of others.
The stunning part of the supposed plot has once again been the aspect that is unique to Britain: all the alleged participants are British-born and British bred; some converts, many descendants of Pakistani immigrants. Note, please, that none of them have the slightest connection with the Middle East or the Gulf. Even the madrassahs they attended and the training they are supposed to have received was in Pakistan.
The time has come, surely, to address this problem that is peculiarly British. As I said in a previous posting, it is preposterous to postulate that the way to address it is by changing the government’s foreign policy. Whether one agrees with Blair’s supposed mission in the Middle East or not – and he has not been particularly involved in the discussions about Lebanon, beyond pointing to the real initiators of the war, the terrorist Hezbollah – the idea that foreign policy should be dictated by supposedly “frustrated” and “disenchanted” Muslim young men, who threaten violence if their “demands”, ill-phrased and woolly-minded are not met.
In any case, as Farrukh Dhondy points out in today’s Wall Street Journal Europe, these arguments
“ignore the fact that 9/11 preceded Iraq, and that other unemployed communities haven’t resorted to mass murder. No, something else is happening. It is significant that 22 universities have been named as epicentres of jihadist recruitment. The leader of the latest terror attempt is alleged to be a biochemistry student. These educated young men have ventured the farthest from the enclosures of their communities: The well-fed bite the hand that feeds.”A similar pattern can be seen with the leaders and many of the members of terrorist organizations in the Middle East and the Gulf, particularly those of them that direct their fury at the West. These people take it upon themselves to speak or to kill on behalf of the “wretched of the earth” while doing nothing to ensure that the latter climb out of their wretchedness.
Think of the amount of money, energy and human blood that has been wasted on the fruitless confrontation with Israel and the West. One quarter of it, properly directed, would have put many of the Arab countries on track to freedom and economic development. No-one who has actually looked at the map of the Middle East could possible argue that the possession of the small territory that is Israel would solve all the problems that cannot be solved by the possession of all the rest of it.
The closest parallel I can think of to this is the group of permanent student nihilists, radicals and terrorists that operated in Russia and abroad in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. They, too, spoke and killed on behalf of the peasants or the “dark people” who were, as it happens, immensely ungrateful to the people they saw as barchuki (little lords). The enemy was more clearly defined but the destruction of the whole society, their own society was the same.
Well, to quote one of those destructive radicals, Nikolai Chernyshevsky, “What is to be done?”. For, in some ways, the British aspect of it is a problem we have created. No, we cannot hand over the running of the British foreign policy to a bunch of dysfunctional youngsters. No, we cannot appease the so-called Muslim community (which does not exist, in any case) or its leaders by further segregation in education, business, let alone legality. Too much of that has happened already and must be reversed.
It is, however, clear and we wrote about it last July after the London bombs that one reason these groups are formed and the hate-preaching imams, who do come from the Middle East quite often, have such an easy time with the youngsters, is the lack of an alternative identity they can aspire to.
Some, as Farrukh Dhondy, try to emphasise the other non-Wahhabi aspects of Islam. Others, like Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester in today’s Daily Telegraph, rightly castigate multiculturalism that has effectively created whole ghettoes of young men, unable and unwilling to work, live and develop within our society.
Oddly enough, and it goes against the grain to say so, it was Tony Blair who came reasonably close to saying something important on the subject in his speech on August 1 in California. You have to hand it to Tony Blair – his speeches are such a pot-pourri that they appeal to everyone.
Much of the speech is the usual kind of “let’s please everyone” waffle with unnecessary references to Kyoto and it is obvious that he finds it hard to define what he means by “our values” that we need to emphasise in order to win the world-wide struggle. But, at least, he seems to have realized that this struggle exists and it is to be fought in the minds of the people as well as on the battlefields.
The problem is that the speech produced the nebulous concept of values and these are hard to define. The need for definitions is becoming more urgent, not only in the Middle East, but in Britain.
Last week an Israeli Arab journalist, Riad Ali, called on his compatriots to make a choice. For the sake of their future and their children’s future, he said, they must become first and foremost Israeli. While there are always problems with Israeli governments and many of the people, the Arabs of the country (who do not, incidentally, want to live in Palestine, should that ever be set up) must realize that hating a whole people is wrong and counter-productive. They must look at what Israel is like – a democracy with a reasonably free and developed economy – and become whole-heartedly part of it. The alternative was a dead end.
I have no idea whether those words will have any effect at all. The likelihood is that not for a long time as other Arab journalists, who had been too scared to say anything while the fighting went on, "celebrate" Israel's defeat by the cease-fire agreement. We have been here before and shall be here again.
But I do think that similar words must be spoken here and spoken loudly and urgently. The trouble is that while Israel for various reasons has developed a national identity (often at odds with itself but that is true for most countries), European countries and Britain, in particular, have been discarding theirs. In this they have been urged on by the European Union who has pronounced that nationalism was a bad thing and should be superseded by Europeanism. As in most cases, the EU is part of the problem and definitely not part of the solution.
Many of our readers will joyfully rush in here and utter loud hurrahs as well as loud condemnations. Instead of that, I suggest they think of how to define Britain’s national identity and how to convey it to all. (And please don’t tell me that being British is being kind and open-minded. That’s just plain silly as well as unattractive.)
What this rather long posting promises is another thread to be pursued over the next few days. At least, it will make a change from Green Helmet and White Tee-shirt.