The Peace Process and Tony Blair’s Forgotten Speech
Shortly after it was announced recently that the U.S. Justice Department would seek the death penalty against surviving Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, I received an email that made my head spin.
A public relations firm was pitching a lawyer to comment on the Justice Department’s decision. According to the press statement this is what he had to say:
“The timing of Attorney General Holder’s announcement couldn’t be worse; with the world on edge and apprehensive about security at Sochi. The administration is pouring gasoline on the fire by saying we’re going to kill somebody who could widely be considered a martyr in the Muslim world.”
This lawyer actually believes that Islamist terrorism is the product of specific Western actions, and that the 2014 Winter Olympics will be safer if the U.S. is softer on an admitted mass murderer and terrorist.
But this misguided lawyer is small fry compared to the major global leaders that have adopted this line of reasoning as their own. And the specific issue that is most championed as the root cause of Islamist terror and extremism is the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Speaking in Munich recently, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry insisted that the absence of a Palestinian State is what fuels violence against Israel.
“Ask yourselves a simple question: What happens if we can’t find a way forward?” he asked. “Is Fatah going to be stronger? Will Abu Mazen be strengthened? Will this man who has been committed to a peaceful process for these last years be able to hold on if it fails? What is the argument for holding on? Are we going to then see militancy? Will we then see violence? Will we then see transformation? What comes afterwards? Nobody can answer that question with any kind of comfort.”
If this is the case however, how is it that Arab violence against Jews predates the Jewish state by a long shot? And why is it that all Jews are targets of Islamist hate, not just Israelis?
Of course it is true that Israel may be used as a tool for terror recruitment, but the tool is not the cause. Absent this recruiting pitch, surely another would be found.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said it best in a timeless, but long forgotten, speech to the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles in August 2006.
“It is almost incredible to me that so much of Western opinion appears to buy the idea that the emergence of this global terrorism is somehow our fault,” Blair said. “For a start, it is indeed global. No-one who ever half bothers to look at the spread and range of activity related to this terrorism can fail to see its presence in virtually every major nation in the world. It is directed at the United States and its allies, of course. But it is also directed at nations who could not conceivably be said to be allies of the West.”
“It is also rubbish to suggest that it is the product of poverty. It is true it will use the cause of poverty,” he added. “But its fanatics are hardly the champions of economic development. It is based on religious extremism. That is the fact. And not any religious extremism, but a specifically Muslim version.”
In the current peace talks, this is a fundamental difference that underlies the Israeli and U.S. positions. The U.S. believes Arab terror is the product of a particular grievance over land, but Israel knows that it is the product of religious fanaticism.
Simply, the big question on the mind of all Israelis is this: Will the peace process actually bring peace? If a Palestinian Arab state is established will the region’s children actually be any safer? In truth, it all boils down to this question.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to insist that PA leader Abbas recognize Israel as a Jewish state for this very reason. If Abbas will recognize Israel as Jewish and accept the presence of the Jewish homeland, then it can reasonably be assumed that his grievance is over territory.
However, his stubborn refusal to do so amounts to a blatant admission that he is motivated by religious bigotry that will never end with the establishment of a Palestinian state. And by adopting this stance, Abbas has also thoroughly rejected America’s understanding of the Israeli-Arab conflict.