British Islam at a Crossroads

The man who held four worshippers hostage in the synagogue in Colleyville, Texas was not a member of America’s large and diverse Muslim population, but a British subject who came to the U.S. to carry out an attack. And as Ed Husain notes, radical and violent understandings of Islam have a great deal of influence in the United Kingdom. Looking back through Islamic history, from Mohammad himself to the 17th-century Muslim emperor who built the Taj Mahal, Husain draws a contrast between a legacy of tolerance, respect for learning, and cultivation of the arts and what is preached in many British mosques today:

Britain’s first purpose-built mosque, erected in 1899 in [the London suburb of] Woking, was spearheaded and commissioned by Dr. Gottlieb Leitner, a Hungarian Jew. The female ruler of the Indian state of Bhopal, Shah Jahan Begum, after whom the mosque was later named, began financing the project in 1880. William Isaac Chambers, an English Christian gentleman, designed the mosque with the architectural flamboyance of earlier Mughal buildings in Delhi. Still standing in Surrey, the mosque was a gathering place for Muslims, and often their Jewish and Christian friends, for decades.

[Today], radical Islamist activists have a grip on more than 30 madrasas across the country. Each madrasa produces hundreds of imams for future leadership positions. I visited such institutions in Blackburn, [the hometown of the Colleyville hostage-taker], London, Bury, and Dewsbury. . . . [Their] radical, puritanical clericalism is on the rise across Great Britain.

What is more, these cleric-heavy ghettos, dominated by activists, are developing a loyalty to their increasingly radicalized community that is in opposition to any loyalty towards the country in which they live. They imagine “the Muslim community” and seek to represent it as a single, confrontational political bloc. For this reason, they find it hard to condemn causes of terrorism; . . . Palestine matters more than Preston or Peterborough. Loyalty to the nation-state is heresy. The hardline clerics and activists are busy bullying and silencing the individual Muslim citizen who aspires to healthy and patriotic civil participation.

Read more at European Conservative

More about: European Islam, Radical Islam, United Kingdom


Israel Can’t Stake Its Fate on “Ironclad” Promises from Allies

Israeli tanks reportedly reached the center of the Gazan city of Rafah yesterday, suggesting that the campaign there is progressing swiftly. And despite repeatedly warning Jerusalem not to undertake an operation in Rafah, Washington has not indicated any displeasure, nor is it following through on its threat to withhold arms. Even after an IDF airstrike led to the deaths of Gazan civilians on Sunday night, the White House refrained from outright condemnation.

What caused this apparent American change of heart is unclear. But the temporary suspension of arms shipments, the threat of a complete embargo if Israel continued the war, and comments like the president’s assertion in February that the Israeli military response has been “over the top” all call into question the reliability of Joe Biden’s earlier promises of an “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security. Douglas Feith and Ze’ev Jabotinsky write:

There’s a lesson here: the promises of foreign officials are never entirely trustworthy. Moreover, those officials cannot always be counted on to protect even their own country’s interests, let alone those of others.

Israelis, like Americans, often have excessive faith in the trustworthiness of promises from abroad. This applies to arms-control and peacekeeping arrangements, diplomatic accords, mutual-defense agreements, and membership in multilateral organizations. There can be value in such things—and countries do have interests in their reputations for reliability—but one should be realistic. Commitments from foreign powers are never “ironclad.”

Israel should, of course, maintain and cultivate connections with the United States and other powers. But Zionism is, in essence, about the Jewish people taking responsibility for their own fate.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship