The barbaric terrorist attacks on Thursday morning in London make us all feel like Englishmen.
Sitting in Jerusalem and watching the scenes on the television screen of emergency workers evacuating wounded from the burned out bus and of survivors, faces blackened from the underground blasts, describing the frightful events, bend one's heart toward Britain in its hour of pain.
As we Israelis think of England, it is hard to help from wondering if perhaps, in the hearts of some of the British, the sentiment arose that on July 7, 2005 they became Israelis.
It will take a long time to sort out how the attacks were organized and perpetrated. But one thing is clear enough. Britain was attacked by jihad. In attacking London's financial center, as in the attacks on the World Trade Center, the object of the terrorists was not merely to kill people, but to harm a way of life, built on freedom and free trade – the way of life of Western civilization.
The reason that it is hard not to wonder if, at their moment of shock, the British people felt a kinship with the Israeli people is because for the past five years, since the Palestinians began their jihad against Israel, Britain has been playing a lead role in distinguishing between jihad directed against Israel and jihad directed against the rest of the world.
In Britain itself, which for the past two decades has hosted some of the ideological leaders of global jihad, the jihadists have made no attempt to hide that their goals are not limited to the Jewish state, or as the common parlance has it, "the occupation," but rather span the globe.
In the weeks ahead of the British elections in May, Muslim activists stormed mosque meetings and denounced democracy demanding that British Muslims boycott the elections. Even as radically anti-Israel politicians like George Galloway and Oona King tried to outdo one another with their anti-Israel diatribes to win a seat in Parliament, both were attacked by Muslims on campaign stops.
In 2004, anti-Semitic attacks against Jews in Britain increased 42 percent over 2003. Yet, lip service aside, the steady rise of violent anti-Semitism has been greeted with complicity by the government. The Labor Party's election campaign was marked with anti-Semitic imagery. In one campaign poster, Tory leader Michael Howard was depicted as a hooked-nose Fagin – the anti-Semitic archetype from Oliver Twist. Rather than apologize for the slur, Prime Minister Tony Blair's adviser Alistair Campbell laughed off the storm, saying that the publicity the poster had generated was worth millions of pounds of free advertising.
In an article published on his website, www.elaph.com, and quoted by MEMRI this past spring, Dr. Ahmad Abu Matar, a Palestinian living in Oslo, discussed the Islamic Liberation Party, active in Britain, which, "announces from London its political platform – to establish the Islamic caliphate over all corners of the earth – and declares that the party will suggest to the Queen of England that she convert to Islam, and thus will not have to pay the Islamic poll tax on non-Muslims." MEMRI reported that in the same article Matar cited the activities of Abu Hamza Al-Masri, the imam of Finsbury Park Mosque in London, who called for jihad and suicide bombings in Israel, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Last summer, London Mayor Ken Livingstone received Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the main religious authority of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has spawned such movements as al-Qaida and Hamas, to his City Hall, referring to him as "an Islamic scholar of great respect." This "scholar" to whom Livingstone gushed, "You are truly, truly welcome," is a bit of a liberal in Islamist circles. He believes that both men and women should strive to become suicide bombers in the name of jihad.
Just months before, the senior imam of the Grand Mosque of Mecca, Abdul Rahman al-Sudayyis, visited London as well. Sudayyis was welcomed by a minister from Blair's government as an honored guest of Britain even though he has referred to Jews as "the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs."
Writing in May of the prospect of suicide bombings in Britain in the Saudi daily Al-Yawm, also published by MEMRI, Sawsan Al-Sha'er noted, "After we read about three English youths of Asian background breaking into one of the mosques in London to prevent the worshipers from voting in the [recent] elections, on the grounds that [Muslims] should not vote in these elections, expect the English 'Islamist' version of exploding suicide bombers soon."
Rather than accept that the jihadists who live in and visit Britain themselves make no distinction between their anti-British rhetoric and their anti-Semitic rhetoric, the British societal elite, on both the Left and the Right, have been intent on ignoring that in the minds of those who seek their destruction, there is no distinction between the war against the Jews and the war against the Christian West. The vilely anti-Semitic decision by the Anglican Church last week to divest from Israel and companies doing business with Israel is a case in point. The Anglican Church, which has wholeheartedly adopted the anti-Semitic "replacement" theology which asserts that Christianity replaced the Jewish covenant with God, is no doubt so blinded by its anti-Semitism that it is incapable of understanding that it shares the same enemies as the despised Jews.
Responding to the increasing anti-Semitism in his own country, Tony Blair has worked to undermine Israel's strategic partnership with the United States. Since the September 11 attacks, Blair has been studiously insisting that Arab and Palestinian terrorism against Israel and Jews and concomitant anti-Semitic ideology is wholly distinct from terrorism and jihadist ideology against non-Jews.
Over the weekend, on his way to Singapore, Blair made a brief visit to Saudi Arabia to meet with Crown Prince Abdullah and reportedly discussed with him the need for the establishment of a Palestinian state. During his campaign for reelection, Blair paid a visit to the Board of Jewish Deputies and told them, in the midst of the violent anti-Semitism that wracked the campaign, that achieving "peace" between Israel and the Palestinians through the establishment of a Palestinian state was the most urgent foreign policy issue on his agenda.
Even as the battles were still raging in the immediate aftermath of the American-British invasion of Iraq, in April 2003, Blair pushed US President George W. Bush to pressure Israel to accept the so-called road map for peace despite Israel's objections. Blair has offered to train the terror-tainted Palestinian militias and Alistair Crooke, the British EU security coordinator with the Palestinians, has been carrying on a dialogue with Hamas and Hizbullah for years.
The thing of it is, through all of this, the overwhelming majority of Israelis have had great respect for Blair as a leader because of his willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Americans in Iraq despite the toll it has taken both on his standing in his own political camp in Britain and on Britain's relations with France and Germany. His insistence on remaining true to the Anglo-American alliance even as levels of anti-American sentiment have risen precipitously throughout Europe and in Britain itself in recent years has been honorable and courageous. Israelis see a reason for hope in Blair's stubborn defense of that partnership. Just as he stands by America, we believe that he will also stand by Israel when at last he accepts the truth that the Palestinian war against Israel is part and parcel of the same jihad that turned Salman Rushdie into a hunted man in Britain a
nd has now turned Britain's underground system and its buses into scenes from a Tel Aviv cafe.
This past May in a sermon televised on PA television, PA employee Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris said, "We [Muslims] have ruled the world before, and by Allah, the day will come when we will rule the entire world again. The day will come when we will rule America. The day will come when we will rule Britain and the entire world – except for the Jews. The Jews will not enjoy a life of tranquility under our rule, because they are treacherous by nature, as they have been throughout history. The day will come when everything will be relieved of the Jews."
When Israelis hear this we understand two things.
We understand that our enemies truly do seek to annihilate us. And we also understand that the rest of the civilized world, which is being attacked by the same forces, must stand up to them just as we must stand up to them if any of us is to prevail.
It is not polite to criticize a nation when it is under attack. But doing so is not motivated by anger or bitterness, but rather by an understanding of the difficulty of mustering the will to fight. Reacting to the attack on his country and his people, Blair said, "It is important that those engaged in terrorism realize that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world. Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilized nations throughout the world."
Just so. And again, as it is true that Israel stands with Britain in the aftermath of the murderous attacks on its citizens, it is also true that for the civilized nations of the world to win the war against jihad, it is necessary for all to understand that the forces who fight us are the same ones. An attack against any of us – including Israel – is an attack against all of us.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.