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Monday, August 14, 2006

Yes, the problem is 'Islamic fascism'

Nearly five years ago, shortly after 9/11, Ariel Sharon gave a speech that infuriated George Bush. On October 4, 2001, just three and a half weeks after 9/11, then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon got into what may have been his only spat with George W. Bush. In a news conference after yet another Palestinian terror attack, Sharon compared Israel's position just after 9/11 with that of Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II:
"The enlightened democracies of Europe decided then to sacrifice Czechoslovakia in favor of a convenient temporary solution" to the demands of Germany's Adolf Hitler, Sharon said. "We will be unable to accept that. Israel will not be Czechoslovakia. Israel will fight terrorism."

"Do not try to appease the Arabs at our expense," Sharon said.
The Bush administration rejected Sharon's criticism:
"The prime minister's comments are unacceptable," [then White House spokesman Ari] Fleischer said. "Israel has no stronger friend and ally in the world than the United States. President Bush is an especially close friend of Israel."

He added: "The United States has been working for months to press the parties to end the violence and return to a political dialogue. The United States will continue to press both Israel and the Palestinians to move forward."

Earlier [that] week, an unidentified administration official leaked to the news media that Bush's security team was working on a plan for a Palestinian state and that it would keep pushing its own proposals.

In the meantime, under prodding by [then-] Secretary of State Colin Powell, Israel and the Palestinian Authority resumed security talks without waiting for a period free of terrorist attacks, as demanded by Sharon.

Fleischer responded, "The United States is not doing anything to try to appease the Arabs at Israel's expense."

The Bush administration has tried to get Arab countries to support its counterterrorism campaign against the al-Qaida terrorist network in Afghanistan.
What Sharon was really trying to say - other than that Israel was not going to be a sacrificial lamb for the war on terror - was that Israel is fighting the same people that attacked the United States on 9/11 and for the same reasons. Sharon was saying that Israel has been fighting the war on terror since long before the United States ever heard of it. What infuriated Bush of course was the implied comparison of the United States to England and its late 1930's allies, and of Bush himself to Neville Chamberlain.

If there is one thing we have learned over the last month, it's that George Bush understands (as do most Americans other than the left wing of the Democratic party) that Israel's war against Hezbullah and Hamas is the same as the American war against Islamo-facism. British Prime Minister Tony Blair seems to get it as well, although most of his countrymen clearly do not. What is true of the average Briton is also true of much of the European continent. They don't get it yet either.

Iin this op-ed, William Shawcross, the author of Allies - Why the West Had to Remove Saddam, explains the connection between the terror plot that was uncovered in England at the end of last week and what's been going on in Israel, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip for the last month.
It took President George W. Bush to tell the truth to Britain about the massive plot to blow US-bound airliners out of the sky. In his first comment on the apparently foiled attempt to explode airliners flying from Britain to the US, Bush put it simply: "This was a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists."

He is right. But in the early news reports in Britain the words "Islamist" or "Muslim" were hardly emphasized. Let alone "extremist" or the dread word "fascist." Instead the common code words on television were that the 24 men arrested were "British-born" and "of Pakistani origin."

No mention of their Islamist ideology. Did the BBC think they might turn out to be from Pakistan's embattled Christian minority? I don't think so.

In Europe the truth is so terrible that we are in denial. Perhaps it is understandable. We simply do not wish to face the fact that we really are threatened by a vast fifth column - that there are thousands of European-born people, in Britain, in France, in Holland, in Denmark, everywhere - who wish to destroy us. They are part of a wider war, what Tony Blair rightly calls an "arc of extremism" - Islamist extremism.

YOU SEE this denial in the coverage of Israel's war against Hizbullah.

Civilian deaths in Lebanon are utterly tragic. But if you watched only British television, particularly the BBC, you would be hard-pressed to understand that Israel has been forced into a war for its survival, one in which Iran has empowered its proxy, Hizbullah, to undertake the final solution of "the Zionist entity."

The fact that since Israel pulled out of southern Lebanon six years ago Hizbullah has been allowed to hijack the whole area to create a vast attack station whose purpose is only to destroy Israel, is taken for granted and certainly not shown to be a cause for opprobrium.

Protesters in London have been marching through the streets carrying banners proclaiming "We Are All Hizbullah Now."

...

As the American historian Victor Davis Hanson recently pointed out in these pages, there is a kind of moral madness at work here.

We refuse to admit that there is a pattern to global terrorism. European papers are frightened to publish cartoons which some Muslim leaders demand we censor, but are happy to portray the Israelis as latter-day Nazis. Not for nothing does Hanson say we have forgotten the terrible lessons of 1938.

...

As Blair said: The battle is over the values that are to govern the future of the worlds. "Are they those of tolerance, freedom, respect for difference and diversity; or those of reaction, division, hatred?"

"This is war," said Blair.

Alas, it is. Wherever they were born, the men who want to blow up airliners, who want to destroy Israel and, not coincidentally, who want to kill all hope of a decent society in Iraq - are Islamo-fascists who are united in hatred of us.

The sooner we in Europe understand that, and that they must be defeated, the safer everyone - Christians, Jews, Muslims, and non-believers - will be.
Read the whole thing.

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