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Jihadists and Lager Louts: Blair's Tsurris
Last uploaded : Thursday 11th Aug 2005 at 00:20
Contributed by : Carol Gould


[tsurris - Yiddish word for miserable problems]
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It is the day before Thursday yet again, and in London we tend to get nervy at this point in the week because July 7th and 21st were Thursdays. It is worrying that tomorrow is 11 August (Madrid happened on the 11th and of course 9/11 ..) and that eight and eleven add up to nineteen. In recent years radical groups operating without interference inside the UK have celebrated September 11th with veneration of the ?Magnificent Nineteen.?

So, here we are being told by the Metropolitan Police that the next attack is not a matter of if, but when. Intelligence gatherers have declared that the attack will centre on the City of London, our financial district. It is vulgar to try to blow one?s own trumpet and say ?I told you so? at times like these, but for years in these columns we have been lamenting the rhetoric being used by radical organisations throughout the British Isles. Tonight on the news Avi Dichter, the head of the Israeli security services, the Shin Bet, said it is vital to nip the terror in the bud. He cited the targeted killings of major militants using military helicopters.

Assassinations from helicopters hovering overhead will never happen in London. However, reading an interview with Hassan Butt, a Muslim activist in the UK who cares nothing for Britain and does not have any feelings about the killing of Londoners, one could imagine an enraged reader taking in the comments by Butt and wanting to throttle this young radical. Butt had been vociferous about the grievances of British Muslims just after September 11th, 2001. Four years later, his sentiments have not changed.

This provokes a far-fetched but, we think, valid premise: does the death of six million in the Holocaust give licence to Jews around the world to blow up Germans? Does the 1915 massacre give Armenians the right to go out and slaughter Turks? British Muslim leaders have taken to wheeling out events from the founding of Islam to the present day as unresolved issues needing a renewed, brave confrontation with the West. In a disturbing poll conducted by the BBC today, only 29% of British Muslims questioned said they think they should integrate into British society. I am moved to look up at the wall of my living room and gaze at the photograph of my late grandfather, Harry, who is dressed as a Yankee Doodle Dandy and, with a moustachioed pal, waves a fistful of American flags. This photograph was likely taken in 1910, and both young men look ecstatic. They are so thrilled to be in America, even if they can barely speak the language. As Janet Daley, the expatriate American columnist observed on BBC ?A Question of Security,? Britain does not have any structures in place to make immigrants feel they are being inducted into a special and exciting national identity, whereas the United States makes citizenship an experience and celebration.

The only instance in American history in which hatred of the nation spilled over into civil disobedience was the height of the civil rights movement, when radical elements influenced public figures and sportsmen to raise their fists in the Black Power gesture rather than singing the Star-Spangled Banner. These African Americans did indeed have a grievance, but what has Britain done to harm the scores of angry young Muslims spewing fury in the media and on the streets, and who burned the Union Jack and US flag in Grosvenor Square in May of this year? I asked Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about this at the World Affairs Council in Philadelphia that same week and he seemed lost for words; what, when all is said and done, can the nations? leaders do to placate these viscerally angry, British-born militants? They have been given every opportunity in this country and many have claimed tens of thousands in state benefits including housing, child support, Incapacity Benefit, mobility cars, free pills plus medical, optical and dental care and Income Support. The thanks the British taxpayer gets is pronouncements from these non-workers that Jihad is now in full swing and that the ?covenant of security? ( the passive acceptance of radical activity by British authorities over the past decades) ended with the re-election of Tony Blair.

Last year I had a vision of Britons waking up one morning to be greeted by streets filled with tens of thousands of young men with AK-47 machine guns, mowing us down in a giant Jihadist insurgency. The people to whom I mooted this ?remote view? of things to come must have thought me close to lunacy. This week, the ?Independent? newspaper reports that intelligence sources feel there is a trained and ready insurgency inside the British Isles armed with Kalashnikov and AK47 equipment. Reading Hassan Butt?s comments in today?s London newspapers that Jihad is coming and that he has utter contempt for British values, one can only feel that we are in a situation in which we have ?shut the stable door after the horse has bolted.?


Turning to the troubles within white British society, tonight?s main BBC and ITV news addressed the national crisis of alcoholism. It is a disease out of control; where Britons go, their reputation for loutishness and violent, abusive behaviour under the influence of massive amounts of alcohol follows with dread in Europe. Last year I was in a fashionable French restaurant with American friends with whom I had been commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of D Day in Normandy. There was a loud commotion and soon we could see that a group of heavily inebriated British tourists had become violent . The Gendarmes arrived and we watched in disbelief as the Britons reeled and collapsed onto the floor. They were so drunk they could not stand. It was impossible for the officers to lead them out because they were unable to walk. How many times one has seen this over the years; the tragedy is that this sort of drinking now plagues the young. On the BBC images were shown of pleasant and decorous behaviour by pub patrons in the 1960s. Today, describing the state of our drinking culture, Judge Charles Harris QC said, 'These people are simply savages.'

This takes me to the other major story in Britain: the continuing rage in Manchester over the purchase of its legendary soccer team by American Malcolm Glazer. Fans staged a protest and the images on television were enough to convince a viewer that the Glazer sons should steer clear of Manchester and perhaps the United Kingdom altogether. The anger of the fans was frightening. At a time when Britain is threatened with a Lebanon-style internal insurgency from a legion of Jihadists, Britons continue to get into a fury about an American running Manchester United. We had letters form furious readers who said we did not understand British culture and not to comment on soccer, but can anyone reading this imagine a crowd of Americans threatening the life of a Briton who had bought, say, the New York Yankees or Philadelphia Eagles?

What do these issues -- loutishness and soccer rage -- have to do with the Jihadists? For those of us who were purveyors of fine culture in theatre, film and television we have seen this great tradition vanish. Scouring the pages of ?The Evening Standard? newspaper one can find no new writing in the West End theatre. Every show is a revival or a re-hash of an American musical. Thirty years ago London was the world?s nerve centre for new writing : Tom Stoppard, Harold Pinter, Alan Bennett, Michael Frayn, Peter Nichols and other giants of the creative world were generating a classic a month. Now, British theatre and television are mired in a doldrums the likes of which can only be called a tragedy. Into this maelstrom of a disappearing British cultural identity come the Jihadists. It would be absurd to say that impeccable behaviour at soccer games; the presence of Olivier, Gielgud and Richardson on the West End stage and responsible pub conduct would make the Jihadists have some respect for the culture they are expected to absorb. What would make life in Britain more pleasant would be a return to the days of glamour, elegance and dignity that characterised daily discourse in this island nation. The idea that Gordon Ramsay and Anne Robinson (her humiliation of contestants never ceases to horrify me) are major celebrities is an indicator of the vast earthquake in British society that has taken place in the past decade.

The Jihadists must be confronted and dealt with, but our own crumbling society also needs attention. When the terrorists go, we may be left with our own terror. The bottle must cease dominating our lives. The solution to this nightmare, which is seeing children as young as thirteen years of age in hospital with liver failure, will be an uphill struggle. Perhaps our geneticists should research the reason why alcohol is so abhorrent to Jewish youth! A world without Jihadists and lager louts is too much to hope for but a troubled Britain, preparing for Olympics 2012, will have to start somewhere. The message to Tony Blair? Get real.


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