Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Liberals for Islamism?

In  The Islamist's War Against Liberalism, Lee Smith takes up the cudgels of liberalism against Ian Buruma, and defends Paul Berman, who argued, against Buruma and others that:
When journalists and intellectuals glide over the illiberal ideas of illiberal ideologues like Ramadan and attack liberal activists like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, then something has changed.

Buruma attacked Bernard Kouchner, France's new foreign minister. The attack is based on Kouchner's Iraq war stance, and predictably, Buruma managed to connect it to the fact that Kouchner had Jewish ancestors. Of course, that explains everything.  Smith observes:

Kouchner, whose late father was Jewish, has consistently polled as the most popular political figure in France because his countrymen believe that he represents something important about the nation to the rest of the world, not because he is a Jewish intellectual. With the significant exception of Tariq Ramadan and his followers, Europe thinks of Kouchner not as a Jewish intellectual, but rather as a figure driven by humanitarian principles and universal values.

Buruma does not understand why some people might be concerned about European appeasement:

So why the high alarm about European appeasement, especially among the neoconservatives? Why the easy equation of Islamism with Nazism?

Well, one reason might be tied to the explosions taking place in Great Britain, and the fresh bomb plots that are being uncovered daily on the one hand, and on the other hand, the total unwillingness of most governments to move decisively against Islamist incitement, beyond jailing the actual perpetrators if they are caught. Another reason might be the acquiescence of too many in the genocidal program of the Hamas, and their support for "engagement" with Iran and the Hamas.

But Smith asks a different, perfectly logical question:


What does this have to do with Bernard Kouchner? Is Buruma trying to make an easy equation between a French socialist famous for his humanitarian work and American policymakers, military strategists and journalists affiliated with the Republican party? Kouchner has offered to mediate a dialogue between all parties in Lebanon, including Hezbollah, hardly a gesture that would bring him within the embrace of the neoconservatives, who understand the Party of God as part of a dangerous Iranian axis. So what is the connection between Kouchner and the neocons?


Buruma states, in answer to his own question:

Israel is often mentioned as a reason. But Israel can mean different things to different people. To certain Evangelical Christians, it is the holy site of the Second Coming of the Messiah. To many Jews, it is the one state that will always offer refuge. To neoconservative ideologues, it is the democratic oasis in a desert of tyrannies.


This is very strange. Things are exploding in British airports, tall buildings are crumpled up by suicide bombing airliners in New York, the British underground explodes, Iraq insurgents blow up US troops and worshippers in mosques, yet the only reason that Buruma can find for alarm might have to do with Israel! As Smith points out:


It seems that in Buruma's worldview even Christians are motivated primarily by self-interest. To most Christians, whether they have apocalypse on their mind or not, Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, as described in both testaments of the Christian Bible, and attested to in historical documents and the archeological record. To many Jews it is not a "refuge," but a Jewish state where Jewish people have the right to determine their own fate, as a nation and as individuals. And while we are listing what Israel means to different people, it is worth noting that to some Muslims, including the president of Iran, the General Secretary of Hezbollah, and the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, it is a curse that must be wiped off the face of the earth.

Defending Israel against its Islamic enemies may indeed be a factor in the existential alarmism that underlies the present "war on terror." A nuclear-armed Iran would certainly make Israel feel more vulnerable. But it is probably overstated as an explanation. Kouchner did not advocate Western intervention in Bosnia or Kosovo because of Israel. If concern for Israel played a part in Paul Wolfowitz's advocacy of war in Iraq, it was probably a minor one. Both men were motivated by common concerns for human rights and democracy, as well as perhaps by geopolitical considerations.

If defending Israel was a factor, there is nothing odd about upholding the right of a UN member state to exist when its many enemies have threatened it with extinction. On a similar principle, Great Britain entered WW2. But if concern for Israel was a "minor one," if it was indeed a factor at all, why does Buruma raise the issue to begin with? And how did Paul Wolfowitz get dragged into this? What is the connection between him and Kouchner?

Read the rest of it at The Islamist's War Against Liberalism

And perhaps after all, when we eliminate the Jews and Israel and the Kouchners and the Wolfowitzes as the cause of dissatisfaction with Islamism, we must also remember that liberalism itself is threatened, and liberal values are threatened by Islamism. The offer of Knighthood for Salman Rushdie has been roundly condemned by Muslims, and might, presumably result in the same kind of rioting that followed the publication of cartoons showing Muhamad, because we are told, Rushdie, like the cartoons, "insulted the Prophet (PBUH)."  The end result of such agitation is that de facto, Islamist tyranny is being gradually exported to Europe, and European media, academics and governments will find their freedom of thought and action as severely curtailed as if the Hamas had taken over Britain, and not just Gaza, and the Mullahs of Iran and their agents had taken over Europe, and not just Iran and South Lebanon. This prospect doesn't seem to worry Buruma.

Ami Isseroff

Cross posted: Israel News Middle East Analysis

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