Nearly half British Muslims would become suicide bombers

March 15, 2004


1. Not only 47% of Muslims, but 15% of Britons overall would become suicide bombers, according to poll in today's Guardian newspaper
2. Radical British Muslim leader: Israel behind Madrid blasts
3. "Seduced by the endless costly propaganda of the Arab cause"
4. Anti-Zionism conference at The University of London
5. Max Hastings former editor of The Daily Telegraph effectively blames Jews for anti-Semitism for not denouncing Israel enough
6. Syrian security forces massacre "dozens" of Kurds: Barely mentioned on the BBC and other media

[Note by Tom Gross]

Instead of a second dispatch on Madrid as promised in Saturday's email, I attach various comments by myself relating to terrorism and anti-Semitism. (They apply to Britain but could probably equally apply to attitudes in society and media throughout Western Europe and beyond.)



According to the results of an ICM poll for the Guardian newspaper today, just under half of British Muslims questioned said they might consider becoming suicide bombers if they lived in the "Palestinian territories," and more than one in ten said further terror attacks on the United States would be justified.

Pollsters asked whether those questioned agreed with the statement of Jenny Tonge, who is a doctor specializing in children's welfare, and a member of the British parliament for the Liberal Democratic Party (in her case the 'liberal' and 'democratic' being somewhat misplaced) that she would consider becoming a suicide bomber if she lived as a Palestinian in the West Bank and Gaza. (See my dispatch on this email list of January 26, 2004, titled "For and against: the British MP who would be a suicide bomber").

Forty-seven percent of the Muslims polled said they agreed with Dr Tonge and 43 percent disagreed. An overall sampling of Britons asked the same question found that 15 percent said they might consider becoming suicide bombers in order to kill Israelis.

The poll was conducted between March 3 and last Thursday. ICM is one of Britain's leading polling firms. ICM says the poll has a margin of error of three percentage points.

The Guardian newspaper, perhaps because it fears the results of its own poll, tucks these results at the very end of an article on today's front page and does not give prominence to them in its headline.

If people are wondering how so many Muslims and non-Muslims came to formulate such views, they could start by examining the consistent inflammatory misreporting and lies about the Israeli- Palestinian conflict in The Guardian itself in recent years, and even more so by the BBC, the world's biggest radio and television broadcaster.

(The Guardian - perhaps taken back at the anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism it has been partly responsible for causing, in a very rare move today uses the term "terrorist attack" in its news report on the double suicide bombing in Ashdod yesterday, in which 11 Israelis were killed and dozens injured. The bombing was claimed in part -- in case taxpayers of the European Union didn't notice because their media barely mentioned it -- by Fatah's "armed wing" the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. Fatah is funded in part by the European Union.)



If people are wondering how so many British Muslims came to hold these views, they might also examine the tolerant approach granted by the British government to radical Moslem clerics based in the UK.

As up to two million mourners take to the streets of Madrid, in London, radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza told his gullible followers that the Israeli secret service planted the bombs in Madrid.

In previous sermons, Abu Hamza has denied the Holocaust, and has called on his followers to slaughter Jews.

Whereas many British "liberals" have defended Hamza's right to free speech, in an editorial today titled "Last straw" the mass circulation "Sun" newspaper, owned by Rupert Murdoch, again calls for Hamza to be imprisoned. The Sun has been one of the few British media outlets to consistently denounce unequivocally terrorism against Israeli civilians.



Another commentator in the UK, Peter Hitchens (who is a long-time subscriber to this email list) wrote in his column in yesterday's Mail on Sunday newspaper, in relation to the two British Moslems of Pakistani descent who murdered Israelis in a suicide bomb at Mike's Place beachfront bar in Tel Aviv last year, and whose death videos were released by Hamas last week: "British-born Asif Hanif and Omar Sharif beam out from their pre-death video. Hanif says the Israelis are the real terrorists and 'sickos'. How many people in this country, seduced by the endless costly propaganda of the Arab cause, agree with him? Why is Palestinian murder so readily excused?"

Hitchens is a rare voice in the British media in taking a consistent stand for Israel, unlike his brother Christopher Hitchens, the American based writer and commentator.



Another area where anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is being whipped up is at British universities, many of which now rely on substantial grants from the Saudi and other Arab governments.

For example, the University of London will today host a conference against Zionism. Speakers include Archimandrite Attalla Hanna, the spokesman of the Orthodox Church in occupied Jerusalem, (the anti-Zionist) Rabbi Yisroel Weiss of Natueri Karta International, Egyptian professor Abdel-Wahab El-Messiri, an expert in Zionism, and Azzam Tamimi of the Muslim Association of Britain.

Next Saturday London will join cities around the world in organizing mass protests against occupation. (Not the occupation by Spain of the Basque country; or by Syria of Lebanon; or by France of Corsica and Alsace Lorraine; or by the Czech Republic and Poland of parts of Germany; or by Slovakia, Romania and Serbia of parts of Hungary; or by Britain of parts of Ireland; or by India of Kashmir; and not the particularly brutal occupation by China by Tibet and by Russia of Chechnya.)

The march in London is titled "Freedom For Palestine & End The Occupation of Iraq." It is jointly organized by The Muslim Association of Britain and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, an organization that has been consistently anti-American, and until 1989 was in effect supportive of the Communist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.



Last week, The Guardian ran a comment piece by Sir Max Hastings, former editor of the (London) Daily Telegraph and the (London) Evening Standard, in which, while portraying himself as a philo-Semite, Hastings essentially blamed the Jews for causing anti-Semitism.

I attach three letters that The Guardian published in response to Hastings's article, followed by a comment piece (titled "Anti-Semitism is a virus and it mutates") from today's Guardian denouncing Hastings by Stephen Byers, a member of the British parliament.

That Hastings, the long time editor of the right-leaning Daily Telegraph, a newspaper regarded by the Left as pro-Israel, expresses such views now that he has left his post, is further evidence of what those of us who have worked in the British media have known for a long time - that anti-Israel and anti-Semitic attitudes permeate all sections of the British (and West European) media - including several journalists at The Daily Telegraph.



Most of the international media, such as the BBC, have barely mentioned the massacres of dozens of Kurds by Syria over the weekend. United Press International and other news agencies put the numbered of confirmed dead at 15.

An Associated Press account said that at least nine Kurds were killed in the north of Syria, as well as a number of others in Damascus. Kurdish sources state the death toll had reached 80.

The Israeli paper Ha'aretz reports that in the north of Syria, witnesses said the Syrian security forces killed dozens of people and injured hundreds on Friday and Saturday.

Clashes between Kurds and police in northern Syria continued for a third day yesterday, according to the AFP news agency.

During the protests, signs and slogans denouncing Assad's regime as well as the ruling Ba'ath Party were displayed. On Saturday Syrian tanks were sent to the region, and a curfew was imposed in some areas.

The weekend incidents represented the most violent wave of protests in Syria in recent memory.

-- Tom Gross



Max Hastings' exercise in arrogance
The Guardian
March 12, 2004

Max Hastings lectures Jews that Israel's policies are causing anti-semitism (A grotesque choice, March 11). He instructs them that their failure to reject these policies will aggravate the problem. This argument is perverse. Surely the reason for opposing Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem is that it is wrong, not that it provides a cover for anti-Jewish racism.

I do not recall Hastings or anyone else telling Africans that they are obliged to speak out against Mugabe's dictatorship in Zimbabwe on pain of contributing to anti-African prejudice. Nor is such "well-meaning" advice offered to Russians, Chinese or others with large diasporas, whose governments are involved in foreign occupations and significant human rights abuses.

Hastings is strangely quiet on the role that suicide bombing has played in dampening dissent both within Israel and among Jews in the diaspora. The British public reacted with similar defensiveness when confronted with terrorist bombings in Northern Ireland, even when many of them strongly disapproved of British policy in the province.

To inform a group of people that their acceptance depends upon their adopting correct political views is to grant legitimacy, even if inadvertently, to the very racism which one purports to deplore. Mr Hastings' fatuous mission to the Jews is an exercise in arrogance and double standards. It is part of the problem which it purports to address, rather than the solution.

Prof Shalom Lappin
King's College, London

Max Hastings complains that Zionists are demanding that people make a grotesque choice between Zionism and anti-semitism. He then falls into the Zionists' trap by complaining of the antics of "Jewish lobbies" and the lack of courage of "overseas Jews". He ends by demanding that the "world's Jews ... persuade" Israel to mend its ways.

Hastings makes the same mistake accidentally that the Zionists make deliberately. He should be focusing on Israel's ethnic cleansing, its apartheid laws and its relentless aggression towards the Palestinians; instead he focuses on its Jewishness.

Mark Elf
Dagenham, Essex

As one, albeit an atheist one, of "the growing number of Jews who express dismay about the behaviour of the Israeli government", I can only say thank God for Hastings' spot-on article. We need more on the same lines.

Brian Robinson
Milton Keynes, Bucks



Anti-semitism is a virus and it mutates
To claim Jews cause their own suffering by failing to denounce Israeli policy is a revival of an old hatred
By Stephen Byers
The Guardian
March 15, 2004

As the agnostic child of practising Methodist parents, I have viewed with alarm the dramatic increase in anti-semitic attacks and asked myself if it is really the case that Jews must denounce the behaviour of the Israeli government in order to earn a European commitment to fight anti-semitism.

In 21st-century Europe, the rise in anti-semitic incidents is directly linked to renewed violence between Israelis and Palestinians. When tensions flare up in the Middle East, synagogues are burned, Jewish cemeteries are desecrated and Jews are attacked. Ethnically and religiously motivated hatred, violence and prejudice, wherever it occurs, should earn unconditional condemnation; sympathy and support for the victims should not be conditional on their behaviour or political convictions. Yet, because rage over Israel's policies can cause these attacks, condemnation is often too slow and increasingly conditional.

This is unacceptable. Of course, criticism of Israel's policy is not, of itself, anti- semitic. But it can become so when it involves applying double standards, holds all Jews responsible for the actions of the Israeli government or reveals a demonisation of Jews. It is clearly anti-semitism if it provides an excuse for anti-Jewish hatred.

If Chinese restaurants in London were firebombed by angry mobs, would it be right to withhold sympathy for the victims until they condemned China for its policies in Tibet? Should Russian students at British universities be harassed unless they publicly condemn their government's handling of the Chechen crisis? This way of thinking becomes an apology for mass murder.

Nobody should be asked to take a loyalty and morality oath as a precondition for protection against racism. No citizen should feel that their equality before the law is dependent on their embrace of political views that we approve of. This is a totalitarian logic that undermines the very foundations of freedom on which our society stands. Yet present-day anti-semites demand precisely that of Jews.

Acts of anti-semitism are justified by an increasing number of "respectable" commentators, who accuse Jews of being the cause of their own suffering. This logic borders on apology of hatred; worse, it is a veiled threat that if Jews fail to oblige, nobody will stand by them in the hour of need. Instead of sympathising with the victims, anti-semites exploit the Palestinian cause to side with the perpetrators. Around the world, only Israel and the Jews earn such contemptuous treatment.

When it comes to Israel, Jews are held collectively responsible. Their sin is not deicide any more, nor are they are accused of possessing sinister racial traits. In the modern world, the methods of the anti-semite are far more subtle. It is no longer the jack-booted Nazi; instead, it is anti-semitism with a social conscience, often based on human rights and the demand of a homeland for the Palestinian people. Today's Jewish "collective crime" is Israel.

Nothing is more dishonest and prejudiced than shrugging off responsibility for hatred by saying the victims deserved it. Muslims do not merit Islamophobia because of Osama bin Laden, but Jews are somehow blamed for anti-semitism on account of their alleged uncritical support for Israel. This is an attempt to rationalise anti-semitism. It is a warning sent to Jews not by people who care about them, but by bigots seeking to condone their prejudice.

Anti-semitism is not rational. It is, as Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said, a virus and it mutates. It will not be defeated unless it is treated as an act of senseless hatred that has no logic, no reason and no justification. It lies dormant, based on embedded myths and wilful misconceptions which lead to stereotyping.

The calumny that Jews falsely manipulate the memory of the Holocaust to defend Israel is its most recent malignant manifestation. No Jew has ever said that I do not have the right to criticise Israeli policies because of the suffering of the Jews during the Holocaust. It is not the Jews who abuse the memory of the Holocaust to shield Israel from criticism. It is the anti-semites who defile its memory by demonising Israel through baleful comparisons which are grotesque distortions of the truth and whose aim is Holocaust denial.

Nor is the accusation, most recently made by Max Hastings on these pages, that "overseas Jews are less brave than Israel's domestic critics" accurate. The Jewish world vociferously expresses a diversity of views on Israeli policies. The British Jewish community has been at the forefront of the campaign to demand a two-state solution. Peace Now is active in the British Jewish community. Many Jewish charities tirelessly promote dialogue and coexistence among Israelis and Palestinians.

The reason for the resurgence of an old hatred is simple. Anti-semites feel emboldened again. Their prejudice, suppressed out of guilt but lingering on in the past 50 years, is finding its way back to the mainstream. This cannot be ignored. Anti-racists everywhere have a responsibility to challenge and expose anti-semitism wherever it occurs.

Stephen Byers is chairman of the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.