In the Grand Committee Room of the House of Commons on Monday 22 October, I was a principal guest speaker at a programme organised by the Indian Muslim Federation (UK). The following is the text of my remarks.
While I was thinking about what I could most usefully say this evening, Shamsuddin Aga (President of the IMF) sent me some background information. One document was titled The History of Islam and Muslims in Britain: A Brief Historical Overview. The last sentence of its opening paragraph is the following:
Britain’s contacts and connections with Muslims are older than often thought, and yet the Muslim impact on and contribution to Western civilisations is routinely overlooked.
I can and do endorse that statement but I go much further. The truth about the Muslim contribution to Western civilisations has not been merely “overlooked” by the mainly Gentile Judeo-Christian or Western world. It has been suppressed. And the essence of what has been suppressed can be summarised in two sentences. In its Spanish glory days, Islam was the greatest and most enlightened civilisation in mankind’s history to that point. Second sentence – Much of what was best in other civilisations that followed was taken from that glorious Muslim way of being.
There are several reasons for the suppression of that particular truth of history, but in the time available to me this evening I will touch upon only one. It can be summed up in six words. The arrogance of the Western civilisation.
This arrogance was described with beautiful precision by the German historian and philosopher, Oswald Spengler. In the Introduction to his massive work The Decline of the West, first published in English in 1926, Spengler wrote this:
QUOTE The ground of West Europe is treated as a steady pole?.. and great histories of millenial duration and mighty far-away Cultures are made to revolve around this pole in all modesty. It is a quaintly conceived system of sun and planets! We select a single bit of ground as the natural centre of the historical system, and make it the central sun. From it all the events of history receive their real light, from it their importance is judged in perspective. But it is in our own West-European conceit alone that this phantom “world history”, which a breath of scepticism would dissipate, is acted out UNQUOTE
Spengler died in 1936. If he was alive today, I’m sure he would have something equally penetrating to say about the conceit turned to madness of the imperialism (or is it fascism?) of America’s neo-cons and their hardcore Zionist associates.
Now let me tell you why I thought it was appropriate for me to offer you some brief thoughts this evening on how to defeat terrorism. I decided I should do so after the publication of the YOU GOV public opinion survey which revealed that 89% of the British people are today “more suspicious” of Muslims than they were a decade ago. Simply stated the implication is that most British people fear that any Muslim anywhere – especially those in tube trains, on buses and at airports – could be a terrorist intent on blowing them to pieces?.. In other words, there is very fertile ground for the growth of Islamophobia.
If I was a Muslim citizen of the UK, and all the more so if I had a beard, I would be quite worried about my future wellbeing. More to the point is that I know from my engagement with Muslim communities up and down the UK that many Muslims are frightened.
I think it could and should be said that more manifestations of “Islamic terrorism” in the UK might well provoke a violent backlash ? violent Islamophobia. And that, surely, is a good enough reason for seriously addressing the question of what can be done to defeat Islamic terrorism.
I’ll begin my summary answer by saying there is one way NOTto defeat it, and that is the Bush-Blair wayThe so-called “war on terrorism” is totally counter-productive. It made Bush and Blair the best recruiting sergeantsfor violent Islamic fundamentalism in all of its manifestations.
In Volume Two of my book, Zionism: The
Real Enemy of the Jews, I explain in 147 words how terrorism canbe defeated. I would expect an averagely intelligent child to grasp the meaning of these 147 words and I will now read them to you.
QUOTE Terrorists cannot operate, not for long, without the cover and the practical, emotional and moral support of the community of which they are a part.When that community perceives itself to be the victim of a massive injustice, and if that injustice is not addressed by political means, the community will cover, condone and even applaud the activities of those of its own who resort to terror as the only means of drawing attention to the injustice, to cause it to be addressed. It follows that the way to defeat terrorism ? the only successful and actually proven way ? is by addressing the genuine and legitimate grievances of the host community.The community will then withdraw its cover and support for its terrorists; and if they continue to try to operate, the community will oppose them by exposing them ? reporting them to the authorities if reasoning fails UNQUOTE
Those are my 147 words. As I go on to say, there are many case studies to support them. In Northern Ireland, for example, the British Army did NOT defeat IRA terrorism.The terrorists called off their campaign WHEN THEY HAD NO CHOICE ? because the Catholic host community would not cover and support them any longer.And that happened only because the British government summoned up the will,about half a century later than it should have done, to risk the wrath of militant Protestantism by insisting that THE LEGITIMATE GRIEVANCES of the Catholics of Northern Ireland be addressed.
The way to defeat Islamic terrorism is by addressing THE LEGITIMATE GRIEVANCESof itshost communities ? Arab and Muslim communities everywhere.
To give some substance to that contention, and for example, I’ll now apply the formula for defeating terrorism to the Palestineproblem, which I describe as the cancer at the heart of international affairs?. If the President of America had a magic wand, and if he could wave it overnight to get Israel back behind its borders as they were on the eve of the 1967 war, with Jerusalem and open city and the capital of two states, he would have (with one wave of the wand) the thanks, respect, friendship and support of not less than 95%, and probably 99%, of all Arabs and Muslims everywhere.
That wouldbe the case because the underlying prime cause of Arab and other Muslim hurt, anger and humiliation is Israel’s arrogance of power coupledwith the failure of the governments of the international community, including the impotent regimes of the existing Arab order, to call and hold the Zionist state to account for its crimes. What Arabs and Muslims everywhere hate most of all are the double-standardsof the governments of the American-led Western world?..double- standards which result in there being one set of rules for the behaviour of allnations with the exception of Israel, and one set of rules for Israel alone. (Though today it has to be said that the regime in WashingtonDCis behaving in an Israeli-like way, I mean with contempt for international law).
Having said that, and to deny Zionism the scope for deliberately and maliciously misrepresenting what I’ve said, I must now make in verbal parenthesis what I call my statutory declaration. It’s this. Judaism and Zionism are NOT one and the same. They are TOTAL OPPOSITES.Knowledge of this fact is the key to understanding (a)why it is perfectly possible to be passionately anti-Zionist - opposed to Zionism’s colonial enterprise -without being in any way, shape or form anti-Semitic; and (b)why it is wrong to blame all Jews for the crimes of the few?.. That’s the end of my statutory declaration, but I’ll add that it’s also a fact that Arabs and Muslims have always known the difference between Judaism and Zionism.Throughout much of their history, Arabs and other Muslims were the best protectors of Jews. It was Zionism’s colonial enterprise that poisoned the relationship, but not to the point at which most Arabs and other Muslims blame allJews for Zionism’s crimes).
What I’m suggesting in summary is that calling and holding the Zionist state of Israel to account for its crimes, in order for there to be a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, isthepre-requisite for defeating Islamic terrorism.And my message to Western leaders is this: If you want to avert a Clash of Civilisations, end the double-standards which are the bedrock of your foreign policies.
I want now to say a few words about a particular statement Mr. Blair made when he was prime minister. He said: “Muslims have a completely false sense of grievance against the West.” He spoke such nonsense because he was (as he still is) in a state of total denialof British foreign policy’s contribution to fuelling Muslim radicalisation.He ought not to have been in denial because he waswell advised by the Foreign Office. In May 2004, the most senior official at the Foreign Office, Permanent Secretary Sir Michael Jay,wrote a letter to the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Andrew Turnbull. It was awarning to Prime Minister Blair and his ministersthat Britain’s foreign policy was fuelling Muslim extremism.We were not supposed to know about that letter but it was leaked.
If there was a prize for the most dangerously irresponsible statementof recent times, I would recommend that it be given to Mr. Blair for that statement. In my view, the least that can be said is that it cut the ground ? not all of it but some – from under the feet of British Muslim leaders who are trying to stop the drift to extremism in their communities, a drift caused in large part by British foreign policy, Blair’s policy.
A few words, too, about a statement some leaders of Britain’s Muslim community found the courage to make. In an advertisement placed in The Times, they said this: “People in the UK are being put at increased risk of attack by British foreign policy’s perceived unfairness.”
At the risk of inviting a knock on my own door in the dawn hours, I have to say I believe that statement was, is,a truth for our time. Unfortunatelyit was not a truth the Blair government could admit because doing so would have been to confess that it hadfailed in its prime duty?to protect and defend the citizens of this country.
This international conference was called to celebrate the 60thanniversary of India’s independence. That being so, and because I had the pleasure of being invited to India twice this year to speak and debate, I’d like to close by sharing with you two of my recent experiences of India today.
While I was in Delhi, my dear friend Zafar Saifullah (the former Secretary to the Cabinet of Central Government and the only Indian Muslim ever to occupy that position) arranged for me to have conversations over a buffet lunch with a number of former permanent secretaries ? the Indian Sir Humphrys of his time.
In the course of conversation with them, I said that unless central government could find a way to re-distribute the enormous wealth now being generated, I feared there would come a day when India would be torn apart by violence on a scale that would dwarf that seen anywhere in the world to date.The ultimate explosion of the despair of poverty for the many in the midst of plenty for the few.
I expected the Indian Sir Humphrys to say (whether they believed it or not) that my fear was without foundation and that my nightmare scenario for India could never happen. What they actually said was that they had the same fear, and that India’s greatest challenge was indeed to find a way to re-distribute the wealth now being created?.. There is, I suppose, reason for hope in the fact that Indian government ministers have spoken of their commitment to eradicating poverty. The question waiting for an answer is whether they (and their successors) have the political will to match their words. If they do, India could become a beacon of light for all of mankind.
In BangaloreI participated in an Empower India Conference organised by the Popular Front of India, and which apparently took a year to organise. The conference was three days of seminars, discussions and debates and the climax, on 17 February, was a public meeting in the grounds of the ShaheedTippuSultanNagarPalace. There are two reasons why I will never forget that particular 17 February. It was my 65thbirthday, the day I officially became an Old Man. It was also one of the most inspiring days of my eventful life.
The public meeting was attended by in excess 100,000 people. Quite a good number, but most impressive of all was the fact that about 80%of those who came to listen were young people. Unlike so many young people in so many nations, including this one, they were opting intoand not out ofpolitics. True they want newpolitic
s, but they were demonstrating their wish to participate.
To give you a sense of the significance of that public meeting and why I was so inspired by it, I’m going to quote from the editor’s introduction to the now published report of the whole conference. The title of the report is Resurgence.
QUOTE: The Empower India Conference was without hype a seminal event in the history of India’s Muslims. Groping in the dark for solace and security during the past few decades, they are coming of age and coming out of slimey alleys of underdevelopment. The Conference also marked a watershed in India’s history as it witnessed a coming together of the oppressed and the underprivileged under a single banner. They have shown a determination to take control of their present and their future. It was a confluence of people of different environs, faiths and cultures, and the message was palpable: they can’t be taken for grantedUNQUOTE
Time does not allow me this evening to do more than mention my other great concern for India. It is related to the fact that America’s neo-cons and their Zionst associates are seeking to have India as their Israel in that part of the world.It’s my view that if India takes sidesin the new global power game, in which the big players are America and Western Europe on the one side and Russia and China on the other ? Indiawill be the loser. The road away from non-alignment leads to catastrophe.
If now I had a glass of wine in my hand and was asked to propose a toast in this 60thyear of India’s independence, it would be this:
To the empowerment of not only India but all Indians everywhere, to enable them to play their part in not only keeping democracy alive, but making it work for justice and peace for all?.. Thank you.