NILE GARDINER: THE FREE WORLD MUST STAND WITH ISRAEL
The Israeli prime minister’s speech before the United Nations in September is a must-read for anyone who cares about the defence of freedom in the Middle East, and the wider war against Islamist terrorism. Netanyahu laid out in stark terms what he views as an epic “battle being waged between the modern and the medieval,” between the forces of freedom and “the medieval forces of radical Islam.” As Netanyahu declared at the UN General Assembly:
The forces of modernity seek a bright future in which the rights of all are protected, in which an ever-expanding digital library is available in the palm of every child, in which every life is sacred. The forces of medievalism seek a world in which women and minorities are subjugated, in which knowledge is suppressed, in which not life but death is glorified.
These forces clash around the globe, but nowhere more starkly than in the Middle East. Israel stands proudly with the forces of modernity. We protect the rights of all our citizens: men and women, Jews and Arabs, Muslims and Christians – Israel wants to see a Middle East of progress and peace. We want to see the three great religions that sprang forth from our region – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – coexist in peace and in mutual respect.
Yet the medieval forces of radical Islam, whom you just saw storming the American embassies throughout the Middle East, they oppose this. They seek supremacy over all Muslims. They are bent on world conquest. They want to destroy Israel, Europe, America. They want to extinguish freedom. They want to end the modern world.
Militant Islam has many branches – from the rulers of Iran with their Revolutionary Guards to al Qaeda terrorists to the radical cells lurking in every part of the globe. But despite their differences, they are all rooted in the same bitter soil of intolerance. That intolerance is directed first at their fellow Muslims, and then to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, secular people, anyone who doesn’t submit to their unforgiving creed. They want to drag humanity back to an age of unquestioning dogma and unrelenting conflict. I am sure of one thing. Ultimately they will fail. Ultimately, light will penetrate the darkness.
As Hamas’ rockets rain down on Israel, even striking Tel Aviv and threatening Jerusalem, Netanyahu’s words ring true. This is a confrontation between the freest country in the Middle East, and brutal terrorists blinded with hatred who seek to advance their goals by murdering civilians and indiscriminate terror. The thugs of Hamas share the same goal as the Mullahs in Tehran, who provide the bombs, weapons and resources used to sustain a huge terrorist enterprise – i.e., the destruction of Israel and its replacement with an Islamist state.
Hamas’ Iranian-supplied missile stockpile in Gaza is now estimated to be 10,000 strong. For the Israelis, this is a war of survival in an intensely hostile region. They deserve the full support of the United States, Great Britain, and the Western world, which must stand shoulder to shoulder with a close friend and ally. As Hamas’ offensive illustrates, Israel is the front line of a global conflict between the forces of freedom and the forces of tyranny and barbarism.
This is not just Israel’s war, it is ours too. The threat Israel faces from the Jihadists is the same threat the West faces on the streets of London, Paris, Washington or Berlin. Al Qaeda, which has had significant ties in the past to Hamas, will be closely watching the outcome of Israel’s military campaign. An emphatic defeat for Hamas will be a huge blow not only to the Islamist dictatorship in Tehran, but to the followers of Bin Laden as well.
Nile Gardiner is a Washington-based foreign affairs analyst and political commentator. A former aide to Margaret Thatcher, Gardiner has served as a foreign policy adviser to two US presidential campaigns. He appears frequently on American and British television, including Fox News Channel, BBC, and Fox Business Network.
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