Dear Director General,
Because it didn’t make any reference to Muslim hurt and anger and the reasons for it, your address (as reported) to the Society of Editors on 5 November will, I fear, give momentum to Islamophobia in our country and, also, will be counter-productive in its impact on many (but not all) Muslims.
I am not a Muslim. I am a white Englishman who does not subscribe to any religion and who does not buy the notion of a creator and omnipotent God “up there” or anywhere. (I believe God is the name that can be given to the potential for goodness inside each one of us. God so defined is a prisoner in man and it’s my view that the prime task of each and every one of us is to liberate the prisoner within).
It’s true that I dohave an agenda but it is, I think, quite a noble one. I’m a former ITN and BBC Panoramacorrespondent and now an author and public speaker. In my advancing years I’m trying to educate citizens about a critical matter in order to empower them to make democracy work .
Democracy is a fine ideal but it doesn’t work, can’t work, unless the citizens of nations, the voters, are informed enough to participate in debate about real policy options and choices. Informed and honest debate is the lifeblood of democracy and without it citizens have no peaceful (non-violent) way of calling and holding their leaders to account.
It’s my view that democracy exists nowhere in the world and least of all America. There what passes for democracy is for sale to the highest bidders. I think our own system is not yet as corrupt as America’s, but it is the case that our parliament has been pretty much sidelined in the sense that our prime ministers are less and less accountable to it. So what we have in the UK, I say, is the framework of democracy but not the substance. (As I write these words I can hear in the background the sound of the pomp and ceremony of the State Opening of Parliament. What a farce, assisted by the awesomely reverential tone, verging on sycophancy, of the BBC’s commentary. Please, DG, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a republican. I value the institution of the monarchy because its existence is the best guarantee that what passes for democracy in the UK will not one day be completely subverted and replaced by authoritarianism. And there’s a reason why that thought gives me comfort. Shortly after Ted Heath ceased to be prime minister, I asked him what his biggest fear for the future was. He said, “that Britain will become the first police state in the Western world.”)
The reason why I believe it is important to make democracy work can be summarised as follows.
Governments are never going to address seriously the problems which threaten the wellbeing and perhaps even the survival of mankind unless and until they are pushedto do so by informed public opinion, by manifestations of real democracy in action. THEproblem throughout the mainly Gentile Judeo-Christian or Western and so-called democratic world is that, generally speaking, the citizens of nations, the voters,are too uninformed to do the pushing.
The critical matter with which I am currently concerned (and for which much pushing is required!) is the conflict in and over Palestine. I describe it as the cancer at the heart of international affairs, which willconsume us all if, as seems most likely at the present time, a resolution o
f it remains beyond the reach of politics and diplomacy.
On the question of who must do what and why for justice and peace in the Middle East, it could and should be said ? and I do say as often as I can ? that Western public opinion is not merely under-informed, it has been totally mis-informed. To be more specific?.. Since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, mainly by Zionist terrorism and ethnic cleansing, the Western world has been conditioned to believe a version of history which is simply not true. (In my TV reporting days, and much to my subsequent shame, I was, as most mainstream journalists today still are, a peddler of myths). At the core of this version of history, which can be described as Zionist propaganda nonsense, there are two main myths.
One is that the Zionist state of Israel has lived in constant danger of annihilation, the “driving into the sea” of its Jews. The truth of history is that Israel’s existence has never, ever, been in danger.Not in 19448/49. Not in 1956. Not in 1967. And not even in 1973. Zionism’s assertion to the contrary was the cover which allowed Israel to get away where it mattered most, America and Western Europe, with presenting its aggression as self-defence and itself as the victim when it was, and is, the oppressor.
The other is that Israel has not had a Palestinian partner for peace. The truth of history on this account is that the ground for peace on the Palestinian side was prepared by Yasser Arafat as far back as 1979? more than a quarter of a century ago. In that year, 1979, Arafat persuaded the Palestine National Council, the highest decision-making body on the Palestinian side, to back his policy of politics and, until then, unthinkable compromise with Israel. (Unthinkable because accepting Israel inside its pre-1967 borders required the Palestinians to renounce their claim to 78% of their land).
As I recorded in my book Arafat, Terrorist or Peacemaker?it took him six long years to persuade first his Fatah leadership colleagues and then other PNC members to accept the reality of Israel’s existence. When the vote was eventually taken, in 1979, it was 296 forhis policy of politics and compromise and four against. Arafat, who had risked his life as well as his credibility to turn his people around, was then at the height of his powers; and from that moment on, and as President Carter knew, there could have been successful negotiations for a real and lasting peace based on a genuine two-state solution – Israel back behind its pre-1967 borders with Jerusalem, preferably as an open city, the capital of two states.
The problem was that Arafat did not have a partner for peace on the Israeli side - because Zionism was not, and is not, interested in peace on any terms the vast majority of Palestinians and other Arabs and most Muslims everywhere could accept. It’s true that in 1993, and thanks in part to President Clinton’s stage management and pulling power, Arafat did have a “perhaps” Israeli partner for peace in the shape of Yitzhak Rabin, but he was assassinated by a gut-Zionist. And Rabin was succeeded by Israeli leaders whose prime objective was to re-demonise and destroy the Palestinian leader. Arafat the terrorist they could handle. Arafat the peacemaker they could not. Didn’t Barak offer Arafat “95 percent” of everything he had said he wanted? No, he did not! That, too, is a propaganda lie.
It was to tell the truth of history, to empower the citizens of nations to play their necessary part in making democracy work for justice and peace in the Middle East, that I devoted more than five years of my life to researching and writing an epic, two-volume book, Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews. It’s a re-write of the entire history of the making and sustaining of the conflict in and over Palestine, replacing Zionist mythology with the documented facts and truth of history. And it’s the oppositeof anti-Semitic. (It’s actually my Gentile call for the Jews to become the light unto nations by demonstrating that right can triumph over might, and that there is a place for morality in politics. The key to understanding is knowledge ofthe difference between Judaism and Zionism? why they are total opposites: and thus 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 also why it is wrong to blame all Jews everywhere for the crimes of the few, hardest core Zionists).
When one knows the truth of history, one can understand why it is that Arabs and Muslims everywhere are hurt, angry and humiliated.
There are three related elements to one of the prime causes (the underlying prime cause) of this hurt, anger and humiliation. The first is Israel’s arrogance of power. The second is American administration support for Israel right or wrong. The third is the impotence of the regimes of the existing Arab (and wider Muslim) Order, regimes which are correctly perceived by their masses to be American-and-Zionist stooges (more by default than design, I say).
The other prime cause (a more recent phenomenon) of Arab and Muslim hurt, anger and humiliation is what has happened since the neo-cons (ideologues and mad men) came to power in Washington DC ? the invasion and occupation of Iraq, sold to the people of America and Britain by a pack of propaganda lies; and, it seems, preparations for an attack on Iran, which, if it happens, could bring about the collapse of the global economy and make averting a Clash of Civilisations, Judeo-Christian v Islamic, a mission impossible.
It also has to be said that Arabs and Muslims everywhere are not less than completely aware of the double-standards of Western policy? the fact that there are two sets of rules for the behaviour of nations, one for all nations with the exception of Israeland one for Israel(plus today neo-con driven America and, in foreign policy terms, the Blairised Britain Gordon Brown has inherited).
Ending the double-standards of American-led Western foreign policy is the key to stopping the countdown to catastrophe for all. How so? If an American President used the leverage he has to require Israel, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 242, to end its occupation of Arab land grabbed in the 1967 war (which was actually a war of Israeli aggression not self-defence), he would havethe thanks, respect, friendship and support of not less than 95%, and probably 99%, of all Arabs and Muslims everywhere. The cancer at the heart of international affairs would be cured, and that would make winning “the war against global terrorism” by political means a mission possible.
There really is no mystery about how terrorism canbe defeated. In Volume Two of my book, page 384, I offer an explanation in 147 words as follows:
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.
As I go on to say in my book, there are many case studies to support that analysis. 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 Protestantismby insisting that the legitimate grievances of the Catholics of Northern Ireland be addressed.
It follows, surely, that the best and actually the only way to defeat “Islamic terrorism” is by addressing the legitimate grievances of its host communities. And that brings me, Director General Evans, to my concern about the damage your address to the Society of Editors might do, I think will do, because you didn’t make any reference to Muslim hurt and anger and the reasons for it.
I have to say that I was somewhat surprised by this omission because eminent others in our foreign policy and security establishments have not been so self-censoring in the past.
In May 2004, for example, 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 a warning to Prime Minister Blair and his ministersthat Britain’s foreign policy was fuelling Muslim extremism.This letter said:
- that British foreign policy was a “key driver” behind recruitment by Muslim extremist groups.
- that a “recurring theme” among the underlying causes of extremism in the Muslim community was “the issue of British foreign policy, especially in the context of the Middle East peace process and Iraq.”
- that “British foreign policy and the perception of its negative effect on Muslims globally plays a significant role in creating a feeling of anger and impotence among especially the younger generation of British Muslims.”
For a whole it seemed that Prime Minister Blair was taking the Foreign Office’s advice. He went through the motions of being seen to engage with leaders of the Muslim community here in the UK. (In my view far too many of them were anxious not to offend the Prime Minister, and most of them were completely out of touch with angry Muslim youth. But let’s put that to one side).
Then, on 4 July 2006, Prime Minister Blair demonstrated his total contempt for the Foreign Office’s advice and his absolute rejection of it. He did it with his statement that “Muslims have a completely false sense of grievance against the West.“
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 about it is that it cut the ground, not all of it but some, from under the feet of moderate Muslim leaders who were trying to stop the drift to extremism in their communities, extremism caused in large part by British foreign policy ? correction, by Blair’s foreign policy.
I don’t presume to speak for Muslims but I can say, because it’s true, that I have been engaging with Muslim communities up and down the UK for the past two years; so I have a good idea of what many of our Muslims are thinking, feeling and fearing and, more to the point, how your address to the Society of Editors is likely to go down with them.
There is no mystery about what they fear. They know that the monster of Islamophobia is on the prowl and licking its lips at the prospect of being able to go on the rampage in the event of another major or more acts of “Islamic terrorism”.
The words you spoke and which I think many Muslims will regard as giving momentum to Islamophobia were these:
“As I speak, terrorists are methodically and intentionally targeting young people and children in this country. They are radicalising, indoctrinating and grooming young, vulnerable people to carry out acts of terrorism.”
That may well be so. Almost certainly is so. But those words (and the whole of your address as reported) took no account of the fact that as most Muslims see it, the best recruiting sergeant for violent Islamic fundamentalism is American and British foreign policy. In the absence of any such context, I think many Muslims in the UK will regard your words as provocative and likely to cause white British racists and bigots of all kinds to look upon Muslim children anywhere ? especially those in tube trains, on buses and at airports – as terrorists intent on, or with thoughts of, blowing them to pieces.
It’s worth noting that three weeks before you made your first ever public statement as MI5′s DG, a YOU GOV survey found that British people are today “more suspicious” of Muslims than they were a decade ago. I don’t think you have helped matters on that front.
I also think it’s highly likely that many British Muslims will conclude that you’re not your own man and can’t be because Prime Minister Blair succeeded in politicising our security services, effectively destroying them as agencies capable of serving the national interest when it is in conflict with Number Ten Downing Street’s political agenda. If that’s not the case, I suggest you find a way to reassure the Muslim community about your agency’s integrity.
I’ll close by telling you why I took time out to write this letter. I’m trying to be helpful.