Friday, 20 February 2009
It’s been a good few days for Islamicists. In Europe, an elected MEP, Geert Wilders, has been banned from Britain by the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.
He had been invited to show his anti-Islamic film ‘Fitna’ to MPs in the House of Commons. Since the ban, I’ve had the exquisite pleasure of witnessing various “British” Muslims on television welcome the ban, meanwhile hastening to add that they had not seen the film. Well, naturally.
The egregious Smith justified the ban on the grounds that Mr Wilders’ presence in Britain “would threaten community harmony and therefore, public security in the UK”. In other words, if Muslims in Britain don’t like something going on in the House of Commons, there will â€” according to the Home Secretary herself â€” be violence which will threaten the lives and welfare of British people.
So, what do British leaders do when confronted by such blackmail? Do? Why, they back down, of course! Never mind for a moment that on the London stage you can have Christ sodomised, or the Virgin Mary turned into a whore, as has happened in recent theatrical productions. How is such anti-Christian blasphemy acceptable? Because it is not insulting to Christians? Or because Christians, once insulted, do not take violently to the streets, in the way of “angry Muslims” (as the estimable Ian O’Doherty asked the other day: “is there any other kind?”).
So what would the wretched Smith creature have done to the author of the following words, had he tried to enter the United Kingdom?
“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.
“A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.
“Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.
“No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytising faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.”
The author of those sentiments (which were rediscovered by Mark Steyn) was none other than Winston Churchill, who penned them precisely 110 years ago, during his account of ‘The River War’ against the Mahdi, written in early 1899.
How enchanted â€” but perhaps not surprised â€” Churchill would have been to learn that a century and a decade later, western troops â€” including a large body of Irish soldiers â€” would be trying to curtail the ravages of the neo-Mahdist terrorists of the Janjaweed. Churchill had gone almost directly to the Sudan from north-west India, where he had been serving with the Malakand Field Force against Islamicist insurgents.
So in an almost sublime coincidence, we learnt this week that what is now the Malakand District of Pakistan is to introduce Sharia law as state law.
Some 30,000 sq km, and five million people, will effectively become an autonomous Islamic republic within the secular- governed state of Pakistan. This is in return for merely a 10-day ceasefire in the terrorist campaign by Pakistan’s Taliban in the Swat valley, in the course of which through an informal Taliban enforcement of Sharia law, “executions” and floggings have become commonplace.
In other words, in exchange for only a temporary ceasefire â€” what you might call their Sudetenland moment â€” Taliban have effectively taken a legal foothold in Pakistan: and no election, no police force, no popular demonstrations â€” (ha!) â€” will henceforth remove them. Thus the old despotic refrain: one-man, one-vote, one-election.
‘The Times of India’ predicts this capitulation will be replicated in other regions of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Provinces. “And then,” it notes grimly, “it’s a leap to Islamabad.”
Quite so: and Islamabad not merely has the Bomb, but it also has four flights a week to Bradford Airport, none of whose passengers seem ever to be treated in the way that Geert Wilders MEP was at Heathrow. Islamabad’s airport is (for the time being, anyway) named after Benazir Bhutto, who was, of course, murdered by al-Qa’ida/Taliban just over a year ago; and it was her husband, now president, Asif Zardari, who abjectly authorised the Malakand deal.
So who says that violence doesn’t pay? In the course of a week, Shariah law imposed on Malakand and a Christian MEP banned in Britain. Thus the irreducible ratchet-effect, with no going back, either way.
Britannia’s One-sided Love Affair With the Arabs
Several days ago, over 50 former diplomats, led by former Ambassador Andrew Killgore, who served in Qatar from 1977-1980, wrote anÂ open letterÂ to President Bush denouncing his administration’s “unabashed support” for Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. Writing in theWashington TimesÂ on May 3, Arnaud de BorchgraveÂ claimedÂ that “it was the first time in living memory so many former envoys to the Middle East had acted as a group to denounce the government’s foreign policy. They said they spoke for many serving diplomats, as well.”
The letter to the president claimed, among other things, that “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at the core of the problems in the Middle East” and that this fundamental problem has been exacerbated lately by “[Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon’s extra-judicial assassinations, Israel’s Berlin Wall-like barrier, [and] its harsh military measures in occupied territories.” By dropping its objections to Israeli settlements in “occupied territories” of the West Bank and by taking the Palestinian “right of return” off of the table, the United States, the former diplomats contend, has closed “the door to negotiations with Palestinians and the possibility of a Palestinian state,” proving “that the U.S. is not an evenhanded peace partner.”
Most of the letter is nonsense. President Bush is the first American president to officially embrace the creation of a Palestinian Arab state. But the letter is not only factually wrong: It represents another example of the predisposition of American diplomats to blame Israel for all that goes wrong in the Middle East. What accounts for this diplomatic bias against Israel? The answer, I believe, is to be found in a book that I read in February on my way to visit a friend in Israel:Â Fire in the Night: Wingate of Burma, Ethiopia, and ZionÂ by John Bierman and Colin Smith.
Orde Wingate was a brilliant but eccentric British officer who died in a military plane crash in Burma in 1944. At the time, he was leading a guerrilla force known as the Chindits who, by shattering the myth of Japanese invincibility in jungle warfare, contributed mightily to Allied morale at a critical juncture of World War II.
But, although he was not a Jew, Wingate’s enduring passion was Zionism. Posted to Palestine in 1936, he became enamored of the attempt by Jews to return to their ancestral land. In the face of an Arab revolt in Palestine, Wingate pushed for an alliance between the British and Palestinian Jews. In 1938, Wingate convinced his superiors to authorize the creation of a small Anglo-Jewish guerrilla army known as the Special Night Squads. He was called “Hayedid“â€””The Friend”â€”by such Zionist leaders as Chaim Weizmann, a sobriquet by which he is still remembered by Israelis some six decades after his death.Â Yemin Orde, a Galilean kibbutz named after Wingate, became a youth center in 1953.
I can’t help but believe that the attitude of those who signed the letter condemning the president’s Middle East policy mirrors that of the British in Palestine, as described inÂ Fire in the Night. The fact is that when it came to British attitudes toward Palestinian Jews, Wingate was out of step with most of his diplomatic and military colleagues. Despite the fact that the main security threat in Palestine came from the Arabs, Wingate found more sympathy among his countrymen for them than for the Jews.
According to Bierman and Smith, “the [British] foreign policy establishment was dominated by Orientalists who felt a romantic affinity for Arabic culture, especially that of the Bedouinâ€”the ’noble savage’ who in various guises throughout the empire (the Masai of Kenya, the Gurkha of Nepal, the Fuzzy-Wuzzy of the Sudan, the Sikh of the Punjab) represented some ideal of manly courage, Spartan simplicity, and courtly charm.” According to Shimon Peres, “The Arabsâ€”and especially the Bedouinâ€”were famous for their hospitality and their winning ways. They had been wooing and winning the hearts of British imperial officialdom for decades…”
The British found the Palestinian Jews prickly, irritatingly non-deferential, and unlike the Arabs, altogether impossible to patronize. While they may have grudgingly respected the former, the British accorded a condescending affection to the Arabs. Bierman and Smith write that “the Anglo-Jewish philosopher Isaiah Berlin used to liken the Palestine mandate to a third-rate English public school in which the British were the teachers and the Arabs and Jews were the pupils, but in separate houses. The Jews won all the prizes but the teachers preferred the Arabs because the Jewish boys were insubordinate, disrespectful, no good at games, and constantly complaining to their parents, who then complained to the governors.”
As was his wont, Wingate let his superiors know what he thought of some of his colleagues. “We seem to send only the worst type of British official to Palestine. They hate the Jew and like the Arab who, although he shoots at them, toadies to them and takes care to flatter their sense of importance.” If you ask me, this is a pretty good description of the signers of the open letter to President Bush.