Politics & Policy

A Rich Italian Dinner Feast

Demonstrating against the anti-Semitism.

In response to Iran’s call for the elimination of Israel, Wednesdayevening in Rome, thousands, probably tens of thousands, will demonstrate in support of the Jewish state. The demonstration has been organized by Giuliano Ferrara, the larger-than-life editor of the feisty daily newspaper il Foglio, and the demonstrators will range from members of some Italian Islamic organizations to foreign minister Giancarlo Fini (long a bete noire of America’s “leading” newspapers and networks), just back from a trip to the Middle East.

It takes courage to stand up publicly for Israel against the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism, especially in contemporary Europe, where anti-Semitism is on the rise, where the Jewish population is minuscule (there are slightly more than 40,000 in all of Italy, less than one percent of Italians), and where the Islamic population is expanding rapidly. I have not noticed any such demonstrations here, for example. But the Italians, as is their wont, have once again broken the stereotype most foreigners hold of them, and have directly challenged the mullahs.

That would be extraordinary enough, but they have done far more than that. They have lifted the taboo on the discussion of Islam itself, and of the way the Islamic world has dealt with Israel since it creation. You know the taboo has been shattered when Magdi Allam, the (Muslim) deputy editor of the Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading newspaper, writes a front-page editorial of the sort that was published earlier this week. Many Muslims, he began, are against the existence of Israel, and many others are afraid they will be called traitors if they approve of it. Allam asks, What will they have betrayed?

The Palestinian cause? But the Palestinians themselves recognized Israel’s right to exist in Oslo in 1993. Islam? Which Islam? Bin Laden’s, that mainly kills Muslims in addition to non-Muslims all over the world? That of the Muslim Brotherhood which has laid its hands on most Italian mosques, exploiting our democracy to propagate a fundamentalist and criminal ideology?

Allam, who has written an important book about the Muslims in Europe, knows that only a minority of them have “the intellectual lucidity and the human courage” to recognize Israel’s right to exist. But he insists that they should, and that if they had done so at the beginning, the Palestinians would have had their state. He explodes the most cherished myth of the anti-Semites, the myth that Israel alone is guilty of the miserable state of the Palestinian people. Allam rightly holds the anti-Semites primarily responsible:

Precisely those who do not recognize Israel’s right to exist have been opposed to the birth of an independent Palestinian state. Such as happened in 1948 when, in order to prevent the Jewish state from seeing the light of day, they only prevented the creation of the Palestinian state foreseen in 1947 by UN Resolution 181. And why did Jordan, instead of annexing Cisjordan in 1949 and Egypt, instead of governing the Gaza Strip in 1967, never agree to have a Palestinian state in those territories?

Once the taboo is broken, you can see the world plain, and recognize something that President Bush, to his historic credit, intuited several years ago when he was being stampeded toward a premature embrace of Arafat: If you don’t embrace freedom whole, for everyone, you end up oppressing the very people you claim to be defending. Palestinian freedom depends on Israeli freedom, as Natan Sharansky has so eloquently reminded us. If there is no Palestinian state today, it is primarily the fault of groups like Fatah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, and their Iranian terror masters, who delight in sacrificing the Palestinians in order to destroy Israel, just as the mullahs take great pleasure in sending Arabs to die in jihad against us. Allam lays it out with brutal precision: “There is a manifest connection between the recognition of Israel’s right to exist and the acceptance of the value of one’s own life and that of others. . . . today the true divide between civilization and barbarism is the recognition of Israel’s right to exist.”

The West, especially the cynical West European politicians, will deny this moral algorithm, but the terror masters know it is true. They know that the real menace of Israel is the threat of the spread of freedom–and thus their own doom. That is why they react with predictable venom to events like the Rome demonstration. The Iranian regime has targeted the demonstrators for the same obliteration it has so loudly proclaimed for Israel. The Fars Agency in Tehran, notoriously linked to President Ahmadi Nezhad, declared that “the Italians who participate in the demonstration against the Islamic republic are all Zionists,” and called for a counterdemonstration in front of the Italian Embassy on the same day.

In case anyone missed the point, the regime intoned that “all those countries and organizations that speak of human rights, are part of the same colonialist design to dominate Islamic countries and Muslims.” And Ali Larijani, the new head of the Supreme National Security Council, warned that if the International Atomic Energy Agency decides to pass along Iran’s violations to the U.N. Security Council, “oil prices will reach 150 dollars a barrel.” And of course the Revolutionary Guards spokesman chanted the ritual hymn: “The intifada will continue until Israel is cancelled forever.”

Faster, please.

Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. He is resident scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute

Michael LedeenMichael Ledeen is an American historian, philosopher, foreign-policy analyst, and writer. He is a former consultant to the National Security Council, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense. ...


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