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But how will you evacuate London, Mr. Blair?

July 2, 2012

Saturday, July 29. 2006
British Muslims are outraged by the Israeli slaughter in Lebanon and Palestine. Muslim Council of Britain Secretary-General Dr Abdul Bari, a man known for being mild-mannered and careful in his public utterances, stated in an official release “Had these mass killings and the accompanying savage destruction of towns been carried out by a Muslim government, we do not think our government would have remained silent. We are appalled by the pathetic statements from the Security Council and the G8 leaders. By failing to condemn the Israeli actions under the pretext of ‘self-defence’ they have ipso facto given the Zionist fanatics more time to carry out their rape of Lebanon”. The tone of the statement is indicative of British Muslim concern and anger, not just at Israeli war crimes, nor even at Bush’s unquestioning support for Tel Aviv, but also at the British government for its supine acquiescence to Washington policy. Blair has already blamed Iran and Syria for the crisis – ignoring the fact that its basis is the Israeli kidnapping and incarceration of Palestinian prisoners.

It is as though Britain no longer has an independent foreign policy. Instead, the UK has become the lapdog of Washington, faithfully barking out its master’s commands. The ironic aspect of this sad state of affairs is that this is occurring under a Labour government. Predictably, the Lib-Dems have criticised both the Israeli attacks and the inaction of the global community, such as the UN, and even the Tories have accused the Israelis of over-reacting, yet Labour Government officials sound as though they are US or even Israeli diplomats in their statements.

However, the response from the Arab/Muslim world is equally unsettling. The Arab League and the OIC have not even bothered to go through the usual motions of calling a conference to ‘discuss’ a response, ineffective as such meetings always are. Instead, the Egyptian and Saudi governments have been trying to pressure HAMAS and Hezbollah to release the captured Israeli soldiers, ignoring the 9000 plus Palestinians in Israeli captivity. Equally, neither Jordan nor any other Arab/Muslim government has yet withdrawn its diplomats from Tel Aviv. This has encouraged the Israelis to press on with their assaults. It should surprise no one that the masses will see their governments as complicit in the slaughter of their brethren.

The late Edward Said once wrote an article bemoaning the fact that the Arabs – all 250 million of them – are powerless. Never has this impotence been more manifest than at the present time. They are utterly impotent. There is anger – noticeably in ‘liberated’ Iraq among the Shia majority, which must dismay Bush. Predictably, this will poison relations still further between the Shia and the Occupation forces. However, given the dictatorial character of most Arab/Muslim countries, it is certain that nothing will be done. However, British Arabs and Muslims could make a difference by very public snubs to visiting representatives from Arab/Muslim governments that act as Israeli accomplices. Independent TV stations such as Al-Jazeera would probably screen such protests. Since the masses would see this, the vaunted but empty ‘prestige’ of puppet Muslim rulers would be dented as people see that free Muslims and Arabs with democratic rights shun such despots fro their treachery. This might make them more circumspect in their conduct.

In Britain, there may be parallel outrage among the UK’s 1.8 million Muslims and half-million Arabs, but apart from rallies, many will think it is difficult to see what can be done – at least peacefully. A recent ITV/Times poll on British Muslim attitudes revealed that ten per cent regarded the 7/7 bombers as ‘martyrs’, meaning that the men committed a halal action which won them immediate entry into Paradise. One does not need to be an expert to speculate that in the light of the Israeli slaughter in Lebanon and Gaza, backed by America and Britain, some youths might take this judgment from the stage of approval to the next level of imitation. Remember, the comments of Mohammed Siddique Khan were as much directed at the failure of UK Muslim leaders for being besotted with the dunya as against Western governments for their policies. Khan also stated: ‘Your democratically elected governments continuously perpetuate atrocities against my people all over the world… Until we feel security, you will be our targets. And until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people we will not stop this fight.’

Any objective analysis of events in Lebanon and Palestine will recognise that these same governments are complicit in the Israeli atrocities. Granted, only a small minority of UK Muslims might be tempted to take to violence, but it only took four men last year to cause Britain’s worst-ever terrorist atrocity. One suspects that there are more than four men who might be tempted to follow their example after what the Israelis, with US and British government blessing, have done in Gaza and Lebanon. Inevitably, such terrorist acts will provoke more backlashes from the wider community, and the cycle of abuse will intensify. This in itself is the condemnation of Blair’s support for the Israeli action; the government has made us an even bigger target for Al-Qaida. Blair might pride himself on evacuating Britons from Lebanon, but how will he evacuate London (or Glasgow? Or Belfast? Or Cardiff? Or Birmingham? Or Leeds? Or Bristol?) in the face of the danger from Al-Qaida?

This is another condemnation of Bush’s support for the Israeli actions. The US and UK governments have handed Bin Laden the high moral ground (in popular Muslim/Arab estimation) for the next 9/11 and 7/7. Arabs and Muslims will be so angered at US/UK complicity in the Israeli slaughter of Lebanese and Palestinians that even if more people are killed than in 2001 and 2005, the popular reaction – unlike in 2001 – is likely to be muted. Al-Qaida will be able to present their action as ‘qisas’ – ‘balance’ in the sense of ‘retaliation’, and moderate voices will be drowned out. To put it bluntly, many will feel that Americans and Britons had it coming after the way our governments backed the murderous Israeli attacks. Paradoxically, US and UK governments, through acting as Israeli apologists, have unintentionally become the chief propagandists for Al-Qaida!

Is there a peaceful, democratic way out of the mess? There is, not least because Britain is the only country that has any influence (tiny though that is) in Washington. If Britain about-faced in its support for US/Israeli policies, that could have a serious effect on popular opinion in America, forcing a change in government policies. Of course, Britons will attend rallies, but essentially, a demonstration is a sign of failure. A comment on the website of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) noted: ‘Muslims/Palestinians on the march… Zionists: No need to march. So what are they doing that we’re not?’. The answer is: relentless, pre-emptive lobbying. They don’t demonstrate because they have no need to; they get the policies they want by effective lobbying and electoral precision. US Evangelicals do the same: they continuously lobby, and electorally target opponents.

In contrast, British Muslims have usually only settled for meetings with the government, making suggestions not backed with any electoral force. Too often councilors and Parliamentary candidates have been supported simply because they come from the same biraderi, same district, or were Muslim. Yet if Muslim opinion were surveyed to ask which Parliamentarian had done more for Muslim concerns than any other, one suspects that no Muslim would win the accolade; probably George Galloway would be the runaway winner.

Thankfully, there are signs that many Muslims recognise that their leadership blundered last year in urging a Labour vote despite Iraq. The RESPECT Councillors in Tower Hamlets set an excellent example in demanding solidarity with the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples. Surely Muslims in certain areas could pressure their councils to make similar gestures, perhaps twinning with Lebanese and Palestinian towns. MPs and councilors – and more especially local party bosses – with large Muslim/Arab constituencies could be warned that Muslim votes can go elsewhere – as happened in some local seats this year. Happily, groups such as MPAC and the Islamic Human Rights Commission have sent releases explaining to people how to lobby. This needs to be taken up on a relentless, mass, popular level. As successes flow, young people tempted to imitate the 7/7 bombers will be directed to a more peaceful, ethical but effective method of changing UK foreign policy. This needs to start now, because as previously stated, Blair might be able to evacuate Britons from Lebanon, but he can’t evacuate Britons from London.

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