In response to Gregory's critical questions about the west having originated the problem through the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, both of which were supported and joined by the then British Prime Minister, his guest, Blair repeated the phrase, 'we must become liberated from thinking that we are responsible for this terrorism. He noted, correctly and pointedly, that radical Islam existed prior to both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and that the west is not responsible for its continuing rampage.
He did, however, acknowledge that we must find different and more effective ways to confront the threat, short of military engagement.
Bringing radical Islam into the spotlight, while neither comfortable nor conventionally and politically correct, demonstrates a degree of both courage and detachment to which Blair is 'entitled' having relinquished an elected position all of which bring with them the requirement to make difficult and troubling decisions while in office. However, his decision to attempt to raise the level of awareness and importance of radical Islam is not something most western leaders are either prepared or free to do. And in that light, Blair demonstrates the latitude that former western elected leaders have to continue an active role in public affairs.
As the United Nations 'point-person' in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, now at a standstill, Blair rejected Gregory's suggestion that withdrawal from the process is in American interests, and that President Obama could now move Secretary of State Kerry into other conflicts on which there was more likelihood of success, and more immediate need
If I had taken that approach especially when the process of reconciliation in Northern Ireland was at its bleakest point, we would never have achieved the peace and reconciliation that we did, was Blair's pointed and incisive retort to the suggestion of withdrawal.
Singularly, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, is the most consistent and loudest voice in opposition to radical Islam, given his country's history of having to defend against the rockets and missiles from radical Islamist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. And in the same week in which Hamas and Fatah, the current name for the PLO, agreed to unite and pursue common goals, prompting Israel to withdraw from the peace process with Fatah, Abbas is quoted as calling the holocaust the worst incident in the modern era, something that other Islamic leaders, including the former President of Iran, have continued to deny.*
Call the Abbas statement "pandering" to Israel in order to bring her back to the negotiating table if you like; it is nevertheless a minimum of an attitude that will be needed if and when the Israeli-Palestinian peace process resumes. And there are so many other minimal steps required from the Islamic side of the conflict in order to establish a level of confidence that any Israeli leader might even consider re-entering the negotiations.
Unfortunately, however, if the west is 'war-weary' following Iraq and Afghanistan, it is also "numb" to the potential of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations given the decades of recurrent high's and low's without a final agreement to which the world has been treated.
Blair's perception that radical Islam is at the top of his list of world threats and dangers, cancers if you like, does not come from a position of ignorance or an absence of fervor for the world to pursue reasonable, responsible and sustainable agreements with the appropriate leaders of the Islamic 'world' to bring this monster 'to heel.' That is a process that we continue to urge upon all members of the Islamic faith, even if, as one of their prominent spokespersons in the United States says, as she did recently on the Melissa Harris Perry show on MSNBC, that she does not consider the men who committed the atrocity of 9-11 to be members of her faith.
Through a combined political commitment to acknowledge and to confront the dangers of enhanced radical Islam, to the whole world and to all of its people, and a commitment from the imams and the people in the mosques around the world, it might be possible to envisage the closing of the madrassas, and the recruitment encampments for terrorists, and the termination of the imperialistic designs and the violence to which some people engaged in the ideology that we know as radical Islam are committed 'to the death' Their's is a religious fervor and insanity (although that word is not used either lightly nor clinically) that begs the question of how those people ascribe the sanction and approval of their Allah.
It is not only the threat to the prospect of peace between Israel and Palestine that is wrought by radical Islam. Radical Islam also targets the political and economic stability and the peace and security of the people of all countries especially those inhabited primarily by Christians and Jews. They have stated that publicly; so we ought not to be surprised when they seek to carry out their heinous violence. The reticence of western political leaders and pundits to publicly disdain the ideology and the people so emotionally and spiritually committed to its caliphate achievement has no and will not serve the purpose to which Tony Blair dedicated his few minutes on Meet the Press. Are they listening to his plea?
*President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority issued a formal statement on Sunday calling the Holocaust “the most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity in the modern era” and expressing sympathy with victims’ families.
The statement, which grew out of a meeting a week ago between Mr. Abbas and an American rabbi who promotes understanding between Muslims and Jews, is the first such offering of condolences by the Palestinian leader.
Mr. Abbas has been vilified as a Holocaust denier because in his doctoral dissertation, published as a book in 1983, he challenged the number of Jewish victims and argued that Zionists had collaborated with Nazis to propel more people to what would become Israel. A senior Israeli minister, incensed at quotations from Hitler highlighted on Facebook pages affiliated with the Palestinian Authority, denounced Mr. Abbas earlier this year as “the most anti-Semitic leader in the world” at a conference in Tel Aviv.
Mr. Abbas had already backtracked from the book, saying in a 2011 interview that he did “not deny the Holocaust” and that he had “heard from the Israelis that there were six million” victims, adding, “I can accept that.”
But the statement published in English and Arabic on Sunday morning by Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, goes further, describing the Holocaust as “a reflection of the concept of ethnic discrimination and racism, which the Palestinians strongly reject and act against.”
“The Palestinian people, who suffer from injustice, oppression and denied freedom and peace, are the first to demand to lift the injustice and racism that befell other peoples subjected to such crimes,” Mr. Abbas said. “We call on the Israeli government to seize the current opportunity to conclude a just and comprehensive peace in the region, based on the two states vision.”
Yad Vashem, the center for Holocaust research in Jerusalem, said in an email on Sunday afternoon that Mr. Abbas’s statement “might signal a change” from a situation in which “Holocaust denial and revisionism are sadly prevalent in the Arab world, including among Palestinians.” The email said “we expect” the new approach to “be reflected” in Palestinian websites, school curriculums “and discourse,” and encouraged the use of its Arabic-language websites and YouTube videos.
By Jodi Ruorden, New York Times, April 26, 2014