Wednesday, August 16, 2006

How Jonathan Cook found himself with the "Islamic Fascists"

Very touching article by Jonathan Cook...

"As we approach the fifth official anniversary of the "war on terror", the foiled UK "terror plot" has neatly provided George W Bush, the "leader of the free world", with a chance to remind us of our fight against the "Islamic fascists". But what if the war on terror is not really about separating the good guys from the bad guys, but about deciding what a good guy can be allowed to say and think?

What if the "Islamic fascism" President Bush warns us of is not just the terrorism associated with Osama bin Laden and his elusive al-Qaeda network but a set of views that many Arabs, Muslims and Pakistanis -- even the odd humanist -- consider normal, even enlightened? What if the war on "Islamic fascism" is less about fighting terrorism and more about silencing those who dissent from the West's endless wars against the Middle East?

At some point, I suspect, I joined the Islamic fascists without my even noticing. Were my name different, my skin colour different, my religion different, I might feel a lot more threatened by that realisation.

How would Homeland Security judge me if I stepped off a plane in the US tomorrow and told officials not only that I am appalled by the humanitarian crises in Lebanon and Gaza but also that I do not believe the war on terror should be directed against either the Lebanese or the Palestinians? How would they respond if, further, I described as nonsense the idea that Hizbullah or the political leaders of Hamas are "terrorists"?

I have my reasons, good ones I think, but would anyone take them seriously? What would the officials make of my argument that, before Israel's war on Lebanon, no one could point to a single terrorist incident Hizbullah had been responsible for in at least a decade? Would the authorities appreciate my comment that a terrorist organisation that doesn't do terrorism is a chimera, a figment of the President's imagination?

Equally, what would they make of my belief that Hizbullah does not want to wipe Israel off the map? Would they find me convincing if I told them that Israel, not Hizbulalh, is the aggressor in the conflict: that following Israel's supposed withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000, Lebanon experienced barely a day of peace from the terrifying sonic booms of Israeli war planes violating the country's airspace?

Would they understand as I explained that Hizbullah had acted with restraint for those six years, stockpiling its weapons for the day it knew was coming, when Israel would no longer be satisfied with overflights and its appetite for conquest and subjugation would return? Would the officials doubt their own assumptions as I told them that during this war Hizbullah's rockets have been a response to Israeli provocations, that they are fired in return for Israel's devastating and indiscriminate bombardment of Lebanon?

And what would they say if I claimed that this war is not really about Lebanon, or even Hizbullah, but part of a wider US and Israeli campaign to isolate and pre-emptively attack Iran?

Thank God, my skin is fair, my name is unmistakenly English, and I know how to spell the word "atheist". Chances are when Homeland Security comes looking for suspects, no one will search for me or be interested -- not yet, at least -- in my views on Hassan Nasrallah or the democratic election of a Hamas government for the Palestinians.

My friends in Nazareth, and those Pakistani neighbours I never knew in High Wycombe, are less fortunate. They must keep their views hidden and swallow their anger as they see (because their media, unlike ours, show the reality) what US-made weapons fired by American and Israeli soldiers can do to the fragile human body, how quickly skin burns in an explosion, how easily a child's skull is crushed under rubble, how fast the body drains of blood from a severed limb."

To read the whole article, click here.