Friday, July 21, 2006

Violence in Israel: The Spillover Effect

As tensions boil over in the Middle East, how long will it be before they spill over to impact other nations?

Fundamentally, the war between Israel and Hezbollah is not a battle for land or money. It’s not a temporary struggle over territory or trade. It’s a battle over the intangible—though it will have tangible ramifications. This is a war over religion and ideology. At its core, it’s a war between Islam and Christianity; Muslims and Jews.

The conflict unfolding in Lebanon between Israelis and Arabs is the physical eruption of a globe-encompassing religious and ideological war already underway!

On the ground, this conflict is a struggle between Israel and Hezbollah. On a broader scale, however, this war is exposing the growing tension that exists between Israel, America, Britain, Europe and the West on the one hand, and Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, Russia and other anti-American, anti-Western states on the other. The current war in Lebanon is delineating the lines down which future battles will be fought.

The nature of this war tells us there are likely to be spillover effects.

The spillover effect is going to be witnessed in many scenarios. Take the Muslims living in Europe, for example. Large swathes of the Muslim population in Europe are at the very least sympathetic to the cause of Hamas and Hezbollah. European governments and citizens, on the other hand, are hesitant to side with Hamas or Hezbollah. In fact, more than a few European states have, in this latest conflagration, sided more with Israel than with these terrorist groups.

This kind of religious and ideological schism could easily see European nations with large Muslim populations become not just ideological battlefields, but physical battlefields. The battleground between Islam and the West will surely extend beyond the Middle East and into Europe—as it already has to some degree in Madrid, Paris, London and Amsterdam.

British analyst Joseph De Courcy recently recognized this possibility. “With the current escalation between Israel and the Palestinians, the prospect has been raised of a return to Palestinian terrorism in Europe” (July 13). Already there are indications that Hamas and Hezbollah’s struggle in Israel could spill over to other nations. “On 28 June, Fateh’s Al-Aqsa Brigades issued a statement in which it threatened to ‘shift the battle abroad’ and to target Israeli embassies” (ibid.).

We cannot afford to view what is happening between Israel and the Arabs narrowly; we are in the midst of a global war.

This reality hasn’t been missed in Germany. State Secretary at the German Interior Ministry August Hanning told reporters earlier this week that “[t]here could come a time when developments in the Middle East become so dramatic that the conflict could also affect Europe” (Khaleej Times,
July 17). As tensions escalate in the Middle East, so too will the potential for Islamic militant attacks in Europe.

Commenting on Europe’s decision to join the U.S. and stop providing money to the Palestinian Authority after the election of Hamas earlier this year, the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper wrote, “Europe … should reconsider their policies that are biased toward Israel under U.S. pressure, because it is their capitals that are likely to be a battlefield of any decision to move acts of violence abroad …" (emphasis ours throughout). How long will it be before there is another attack by radical Islamic terrorists on Europe? According to this popular Arabic newspaper, not long.

The Al-Quds al-Arabi article claimed that it was Europe’s “blind support for the illegal and immoral U.S. war in Iraq which made terrorist bombings reach London and Madrid and claim the lives of hundreds of innocent citizens.”

Of course, the idea that Europe’s policies are “biased toward Israel,” or that Europe exhibits “blind support” for the U.S., is a farce. In reality, Europe has consistently supported the Palestinians. But this global religious conflict is heating up because Muslims increasingly consider any policy outside of outright obedience to sharia law to be “biased toward Israel.”

We need to recognize this war for what it is. It is not about territory or money. This is a religious and ideological war that knows no boundaries.

America, Britain, France, Germany and Spain there exist radical Islamists who are inspired by the same beliefs that infest the minds of radical Islamists in Iran or Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon. The same mindset that is currently firing bombs at Israel is also living in the suburbs and cities of Western nations across the world.

And remember, their mode of waging war means it would only take a diehard few to wipe out many thousands, or hundreds of thousands. Even a few hundred devoted Islamic suicide bombers could inflict greater devastation than legions of Western soldiers under orders from weak-willed civilian leaders.

As most Westerners condemn Hezbollah and Iran for the current crisis, large swathes of the Islamic world rejoice in Hezbollah’s actions and efforts. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims around the world are
growing excited and motivated by this war in Lebanon. There is a growing sense of empowerment among Islamic states. Could there be a more alarming trend for Western nations?

The present war in Lebanon extends beyond Hezbollah terrorists fighting Israeli soldiers. It pits Muslims around the world against Western peoples determined to stand up to Islamic fervor. The
mindset fueling the war in Lebanon is finding lodgment in the minds of Muslims across the planet!

How long can it be before this radical Islamic mindset spills over to inflict violence in Berlin, Paris, London or Washington?

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