The foiled plot to blow up several trans-Atlantic flights originating in London demonstrates Britain’s problem with Islamic extremism is far deeper than its political class wants to acknowledge. So Londonistan author Melanie Phillips tells National Review Online. It also should remind us, she says, that Israel is the Western world’s front line of defense against that threat.
“All credit to [the British authorities] for uncovering it,” Phillips told NRO via phone from Israel on Friday afternoon. “But it’s not enough to thwart terror attacks if at the same time you are not only failing to come to grips with the radical ideology behind them, you are busy appeasing it.”
“This is really the core of the problem of what’s happening in Britain,” she said. “Even though Britain had its own atrocity last year, the 7/7 bombings, and it was perpetrated by British-born Muslim youths… there is a settled consensus developed among the political class in Britain that this was kind of one-off, that it wasn’t al Qaeda, that this was a group of guys who put together a plot because of anger over the war in Iraq. Britain does not want to believe what is patently obvious: that it has an enormous fifth column of radical Islamic terrorists who were born and bred in Britain.”
“The British are rightfully concerned to not want to demonize an entire community,” she said. “There are many hundreds of thousands of British Muslims who generally have no truck with radical Islam. Nevertheless, in absolute terms the numbers who have extremist views and support jihad are enormous and unsustainable. The reasons for this are religious. It doesn’t follow that all Muslims subscribe to this particular view, but those who do are being told to do so by Islam, by the belief rooted in Islamic theology, endorsed by clerics, that there is a duty to wage jihad, reestablish the caliphate and turn non-Muslims into believers. Britain refuses to accept this.”
The explanation for Britain’s deep state of denial, Phillips said, is partly psychological: “A holy war is a horrific concept. It is a protracted fight with an uncertain outcome and an enormous cost in terms of casualties. Human nature, when we are faced with a reality that is overwhelmingly awful, is to deny its existence and alight instead on something that is less bad.” She said that is why so many in Britain blame London and Washington for provoking terror attacks. “We can change ourselves. This is within the scope of our potential. Consequently, the British cannot come to grips with the terrible ideology that’s driving the global jihad.”
“It’s not enough to thwart terrorist plots and break up terrorist cells, vital as those things are,” she said. “In addition, what they have to do and have not done is address the ideas that are driving people to these horrible acts.” They are ideas, she said, based on a paranoid view of the world in which that the West is out to destroy the Muslim world and controlled by the Jews.
“That’s why the war in Lebanon is so important,” she said. “The British don’t understand the reality, which is that Israel is the front line of defense for the West. In the Islamic mind, the Jews are the center of the problem. They believe the Jews are the puppet masters of the West, and the Jews and the West have a malign intention to destroy the world of Islam.” That is why it is so dangerous to misunderstand the conflict, she said. “This is certainly not a fight over Palestinian territory. The fight over Israel is today a fight caused by the fact that the Muslim and Arab world does not want Israel to exist. When we look closely, we find a desire to wipe Israel off the map and destroy the Jewish people altogether. That is what is driving jihad. That is why Israel is important.”
“At the very same time that this plot has been uncovered, Israel is engaged in a life and death struggle with Iran through its proxy, Hezbollah… Insane as this may seem, much of the public in Britain believes that Hezbollah is part of a heroic resistance.” She said that “although [Shia Hezbollah and Sunni al Qaeda] are separate and rival wings of global jihad, they are both united in same objective. Instead of Britain understanding that this is all one fight, Britain is in denial… even today or yesterday, [British authorities] were saying that the terrorist suspects had ‘links to the South Asian community.’ What idiocy! Britain will not even acknowledge the role played by religion. This is the way a war is lost, the way a civilization dies.”
That is why Phillips was only somewhat relieved when she heard the news this week: “This is a desperate situation when you have a country as important as Britain that is so paralyzed by this failure to properly analyze that threat.”
— Stephen Spruiell is NRO’s media blogger. He frequently reports on politics for both NRO and NR.