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July 18, 2005

Blair on Roots of Terror

A recent entry on CAMERA's Web site addressed the misreporting by AP and Ha'aretz of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's interview with BBC radio. AP and Ha'aretz wrongly claimed that Blair discussed the "easing the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians" as a means of addressing the "roots" of terror. AP later corrected their error.

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Interestingly, Blair suggested in a subsequent (July 16) speech to the Labour Party national conference that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not drive global terrorism:

If it is the plight of the Palestinians that drives them, why, every time it looks as if Israel and Palestine are making progress, does the same ideology perpetrate an outrage that turns hope back into despair?

Blair laid out other interesting points to make the case that the "evil ideology" of terrorists is not a "response to a particular policy." (Note that, unlike much of the media, Blair acknowledged the role of incitement in driving terrorism.)

He said:

What we are confronting here is an evil ideology. ...

This ideology and the violence that is inherent in it did not start a few years ago in response to a particular policy. Over the past 12 years, Al-Qaeda and its associates have attacked 26 countries, killed thousands of people, many of them Muslims. ...

They aren't unsophisticated in their propaganda. They recruit however and whoever they can and with success.

Neither is it true that they have no demands. They do. It is just that no sane person would negotiate on them.

They demand the elimination of Israel; the withdrawal of all Westerners from Muslim countries, irrespective of the wishes of people and government; the establishment of effectively Taleban states and Sharia law in the Arab world en route to one caliphate of all Muslim nations. ...

From the mid 1990s onwards, statements from Al-Qaeda, gave very clear expression to this ideology: "Every Muslim, the minute he can start differentiating, carries hatred towards the Americans, Jews and Christians. This is part of our ideology. The creation of Israel is a crime and it has to be erased.

"You should know that targeting Americans and Jews and killing them anywhere you find them on the earth is one of the greatest duties and one of the best acts of piety you can offer to God Almighty. Just as great is their hatred for so-called apostate governments in Muslim countries. This is why mainstream Muslims are also regarded as legitimate targets".

At last year's (Labour) party conference, I talked about this ideology in these terms.

Its roots are not superficial, but deep, in the madrassas of Pakistan, in the extreme forms of Wahabi doctrine in Saudi Arabia, in the former training camps of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan; in the cauldron of Chechnya; in parts of the politics of most countries of the Middle East and many in Asia; in the extremist minority that now in every European city preach hatred of the West and our way of life.

This is what we are up against. It cannot be beaten except by confronting it, symptoms and causes, head-on. Without compromise and without delusion.

The extremist propaganda is cleverly aimed at their target audience. It plays on our tolerance and good nature.

It exploits the tendency to guilt of the developed world, as if it is our behaviour that should change, that if we only tried to work out and act on their grievances, we could lift this evil, that if we changed our behaviour, they would change theirs. This is a misunderstanding of a catastrophic order.

Their cause is not founded on an injustice. It is founded on a belief, one whose fanaticism is such it can't be moderated. It can't be remedied. It has to be stood up to. ...

Posted by GI at July 18, 2005 11:12 AM

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