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Religion and Terror
Last uploaded : Monday 1st Aug 2005 at 23:11
Contributed by : Carol Gould


During my many months in the United States the issue of religion seemed to hold a major place in public discourse. I found that otherwise intelligent and informed individuals became apoplectic with rage when the conversation turned to religion.

There is a general feeling in the United States that the ?religious Right? has gained so much power that very soon the precious concept of separation of Church and State will be demolished and that reactionary views will -- through reactionary judges and influential lawmakers-- become the law of the land. It is indeed worrying that the wife of John Roberts, nominee for the Supreme Court seat being vacated by Justice Sandra Day O?Connor, is an anti-abortion activist. How can Mrs Roberts not have flavoured her husband?s views?

It is worrying that the United States is becoming more and more polarised over the issues of gay and lesbian rights, the Iraq War and the Patriot Act; countless Americans I met in various urban and rural settings expressed their alarm to me that the country is becoming a ?police state.? There is even a new group forming, ?Christian Exodus,? that supports secession from the United States in order to form a fully Christian empire. Some forty-five million Americans are without health insurance because they cannot afford it or do not qualify for cover due to pre-existing conditions, whilst here in the UK we have a thriving National Health Service, but if one mentions universal health care to an American, one is called a ?Socialist.?

In these columns we commented on the banning of the Ten Commandments from a state courthouse as long ago as 2003:


In this article we expressed our regret that issues as worrying as the spread of extremist religious cults in Great Britain and continental Europe were being eclipsed by the matter of ?Ten Commandments? slabs and the judge who wanted them kept in the courthouse rotunda.

Now that global Jihad has reached the shores of Britain, one hopes it will be easier to convince Americans that there are more pressing issues in the universe than the dangers of tablets of the Mosaic Law being displayed in an Alabama federal building. Likewise, one hopes that the tragedy of July 7th in London will pull Britain?s columnists and broadcasters -- as well as the Anglican Church -- away from their obsessive condemnations of Israel. Thankfully, letter writers with what one assumes are Anglo-Saxon names have been expressing their views in the London papers with opinions on the ?Iraq-Palestine connection.? Many have said they are not prepared to swallow the premise that present conflicts in Arab lands inspired the London bombers. One has stressed the point that Israelis have been killed by suicide bombers for years. In these columns I have emphasised the fact that during the Oslo-Rabin-Clinton years, Hamas suicide bombings in Israel were at an all-time high.

Indeed, in ?The Forgotten Ally? (1943) and in ?Days of Our Years,? (1939) Pierre van Paassen warned of a global jihad emanating from a Middle East steeped in medieval practices and affronted by the arrival of enlightened Jewish intellectuals and scientists intent on making the squalid desert lands fertile and disease-free. In today?s Financial Times, the American Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld instructs us that Islamic fundamentalism has driven many violent movements and clashes since the eleventh century.

Of all the memories churned up from the past few years in which this column has been written, the most vivid is that of Dr Izzam al Tamimi exhorting young British Muslims in March 2004 at the al Aqsa Friends rally at the University of London to a vision of a world without Israel, as they stood up all around the section where I was sitting and began to chant ?Jihad! Jihad!?

At the tea break I tried to get inside the minds of these impressionable young men. They were gentle and softly-spoken and were extremely polite to me, listening with care to my Zionist viewpoint. What crossed my mind after these encounters is that these young men are brainwashed in Britain -- by Imams? by the Israel-hating British media ? -- about the West and about Jews and Israel to the point that all they see are hordes of violent Christians and Jews wanting to murder them all. These young man were astonished to learn that the biggest event in Israel each year is the Book Fair and that Arabs live side by side with Jews in Haifa, Jaffa and other parts of Greater Israel, worshipping in their mosques where children learn their curriculum.

Over the years I have heard countless pronouncements from young Muslim men and women in Edgware Road, at the School of Oriental and African Studies and at the London Central Mosque about the evils of Israel and of the Zionist conspiracy. Where this accumulated hatred and anger will lead gives one pause. We are being told that London and the UK can expect more attacks. In July 2002 ?The Daily Mirror? front page labelled the United States the ?Rogue State.? Innumerable British papers have condemned Israel, long before Sharon. Perhaps now the pundits will realise that Jews have been slaughtered in the Holy Land for a hundred years and that there was no Iraq War or Sharon to blame.

When my Whitechapel-born local newsagent, a young Muslim, was gleeful that the ?Jew and Hindu? had died on the Columbia space shuttle in 2003 I knew something was wrong here. When an Israeli cabinet minister was assassinated and my white English neighbour said, ?Good! And may more follow!? I knew there was something odd going on here. Perhaps the Lawrence of Arabia cult still exists: these chaps are all right, even if they kill a few London commuters, because we do have something in common: hatred of Zionists and Americans. When the Mayor of London complains that ?Jewish boys? are leaving the UK to go and kill Palestinians there is something wrong in this Olympic City.

Whatever the agenda, London is a sombre place. It is time we turned our energies to eliminating a cult of terror from within, and stopped spending 100% of our time hating Israel and the USA.


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