A Minutes's Silence—But Who For?

What was the message of the minute's silence observed at the Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association final played at Croke Park after 7/7—the London Underground bombings?

Were the organisers and the crowd simply responding on a human level, and sending a message of sympathy and solidarity to the families of the 50+ people killed on the way to work?

That is one explanation of what appeared as a nice gesture, intended no doubt to show that the Irish people and the Gaa are not anti-British.

But it is raises the question of why such gestures have never been made towards other families similarly bereaved in the Middle East.

Those families too were the victims of terrorist attacks, the State Terrorism of countries who have a strategic interest in their territory.

Did the Gaa keep a minute's silence for the innocent victims of British and American aerial bombardment of Iraq's capital on various occasions, and prior to the ground invasion of a couple of years ago? Or was there any commemoration for the people of devastated Falluja, a modern city razed to the ground by American forces because it dared resist invasion.

A moment's thought shows that the 'nice gesture' from the Gaa was one-sided: there is sympathy for only one side in the war currently being fought in Iraq—and the side which is being given moral support by the minute's silence is not that fighting the invasion and destruction of their country, but the side that is wreaking havoc. It is an odd situation for Ireland, of all places, to be in.

Tony Blair has denied that the London Underground bombings are the consequence of Britain's vicious attack on Iraq. But, Omar Hussein, the bomber who got away and is being held in Italy, has made it plain that this was indeed what it was about. The perpetrators wanted the British people to feel briefly the terror and trepidation that has become part of daily life in Iraq. The motive is clear and understandable, and is widely understood in Britain despite Tony Blair's protestations.

The British premier tries to evade responsibility for the blood-price ordinary people are paying for his Great Power ambitions. He suggests that:

"What we are confronting here is an evil ideology… a global struggle… a battle of ideas, hearts and minds, both within Islam and outside it. This is the battle that must be won, a battle not just about terrorists' methods but their views. Not just their barbaric acts, but their barbaric ideas. Not only what they do but what they think and the thinking they would impose on others" (Speech to Labour Party National Forum 18.7.05).

Those "barbaric" ideas are encapsulated in demands which the Labour leader says "no sane person" could negotiate on:

"…They demand the elimination of Israel; the withdrawal of Westerners from Muslim countries, irrespective of the wishes of people and Government; the establishment of effectively Taleban states and Sharia law in the Arab world en route to one Caliphate of all Muslim nations" (ibid).

It is noteworthy that Tony Blair does not here claim, as does George Bush, that Al Qaeda is fighting the West to destroy the democratic system and liberal values. The implication of what he says is that he understands very well that it is the reverse that is the case. It is 'the West' which is imposing permissive culture and values in the Muslim world where they are not wanted.

The democratic system and the path of elections have been thoroughly discredited in the Muslim world. On the one hand, the populace in the Middle East sees that the democratic electorates in the West do not give a damn about the conduct of their Governments abroad, so long as their own conditions of life remain comfortable and secure. And there is the example of Israel, which boasts of being the only democracy in the Middle East (which is not true, incidentally) while crushing any Arabs it can bring within its sphere.

Beyond the behaviour of the democracies themselves, there is the anti-democratic behaviour they encourage in states under their influence when it suits them. So when democracy and voting is liable to produce the 'wrong' result, the Western democratic states are quite happy to see them over-ruled. This happened in Algeria and caused a vicious and bloody war by Islamists baulked of their electoral success. There can be little doubt if the semi-dictatorial states supported by the West all around the Middle East were to have free and fair elections they would produce Islamic revolution.

As for free institutions and liberal values: By some 'mischance' an independent Arabic television station, Al Jazeera, has come into being and insists on reporting the real news all round the Middle East. This is deeply subversive of Western hegemony and America has tried every trick in the book to try to get it silenced or spancelled. The joke is that the broadcasters were trained by the BBC—but the British broadcasters failed to teach them the 'double-think' which guides their work: the trick of seeming impartial while conveying the message of the powers-that-be.

As for the rest of Blair's excuses, they seem thin indeed. If Israel disappears from the Middle East as a state, it will be its own actions that bring about its demise. There are now a quarter of a million settlers who have a deliberate policy of breeding the New Jerusalem: they have huge families and brain-wash their children about their own history. The Jewish State is confessional and applies Mosaic Law. The non-fundamentalists of Israel, whilst being in the majority, are not willing to curb their own extremists operating on Arab lands. Indeed they subsidise and protect them. If the rate of settlement of the last few years is kept up, it will no longer be possible to think of a two-state solution for Palestine/Israel. What is on the cards is either another expulsion of Palestinians as in 1947-8, or a single Arab/Jewish State.

As for the rest of Blair's complaints. What business is it of the British premier if Muslim countries expel Westerners, impose Sharia law, or combine to form one state (the Caliphate)? That is their right. Whatever they do, they will still need to trade their oil to bring in funds.

If the people of the Middle East and beyond are content to live under Muslim Fundamentalism it will will survive and provide a medium of development, as it has in Iran. If the people experience it as "evil" and "barbaric", it will soon be overthrown. It is none of the business of outsiders.

That said, it is still not the case that the London bombings were a blow for the Caliphate. They were about something much more down to earth: the protest against imperialist war-mongering in the Middle East in general, and in Iraq in particular. And the Gaa has no business taking Britain's side in that. If a minute's silence was to be observed, it should have been for all the hundreds of thousands who have died as a consequence of Imperial meddling in the Middle East, including the 50+ workers in London.

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