Nearly five million were forced
from their homes, either fleeing abroad or to safe
places in Iraq.
The breakdown in public services
caused by the West's sanctions on Iraq after the
First Gulf War also led to hundreds of thousands of
deaths. And we have not even touched on the deaths
in the Lebanon interventions, particularly after
Israel's attack to 'crush' the extremist Hezbollah.
Significantly, Hamas and Hezbollah
had electoral triumphs following Israeli attacks.
In Afghanistan, refugees from the
Taliban have had to face returning to a land where
the seven-year war against the invader has
reinvigorated that awful organisation.
Throughout the Middle East, tales
can be heard of relatives or friends who have fallen
victim to the U.S. and its allies, including Israel,
over recent decades, often accompanied by grim
details about trigger-happy U.S. troops, ideal
Our young man in Gaza or the West
Bank grows up dangerously full of frustration and
anger. His religion seems a stabilising force in an
For our part, Christianity has
long had its own revered martyrs. Your local church
may be dedicated to one. We should beware the fact
that Islam has an entrenched appeal to martyrdom.
Those with deep
grievances, actual or inherited, number many
millions. Just think about the scale of this. There
are about 300 million Muslim Arabs (plus Iran).
Pakistan, now being drawn into the conflict, adds
If only a tiny fraction takes the
Jihadist path, we face a formidable and, alas,
growing host. Can we be surprised that Islamic
extremists find no difficulty in recruitment?
We are very stupid - as stupid
as Chamberlain at Munich - to ignore the scale or
nature of the menace.
There will be no curb to terrorism
until we stop waging wars on Muslim countries and,
even more, until the problem of the Arab-Israeli
conflict is ended or at least ameliorated.
Washington holds all the levers.
It is the source of huge economic and military aid
to Israel. President Clinton nearly achieved a
settlement, but was balked at the last moment by the
then Palestinian leadership.
At least he tried. Other
presidents have declined to pressure Israel into the
necessary concessions and Britain's efforts has
amounted to little more than pious pleading.
Of course, the
Zionist lobby in the U.S. and elsewhere is powerful.
In the American case, Jewish Zionism is augmented by
various Evangelical Churches that excitedly grasp at
the state of Israel as fulfiling Old Testament
In the propaganda battle here as
in the U.S., Zionists are adept at playing the anti-Semitic
card, so familiar to fair-minded journalists. The
BBC in particular is easily scared.
Developments within Israel are
grim. Its crazy system of proportional
representation gives every loony some power in
coalition governments. Hence we have the notorious
extremist Avigdor Lieberman in the post of Foreign
Israeli organisations such as
Peace Now, which once organised a 400,000-strong
demonstration against the Lebanon intervention in
1982, face an uphill battle. Yet the chance for
peace does not depend on Israeli political
has the real, unquestionable power to impose a
settlement. How hard he tries affects everybody,