Sunday 24 May 2020

Balancing act

“20 years ago today the Israeli army killed my friend and BBC colleague Abed Takkoush in South Lebanon. They fired a tank shell into his car from their side of the border wire. They claimed we were terrorists. Abed left a wife and 3 teenage sons 
I’d decided to stop to do a piece to camera. I got out of the car with cameraman Malek Kanaan. Abed stayed in the car on a phone call to his son. A minute or two later a Merkava tank crew about a kilometre away fired at the car. 
It was the middle of a bright sunny day, with perfect visibility. They were close enough to see us clearly with the sophisticated optics in a Merkava tank. Yet they claimed we were terrorists. 
Israel was pulling out of a long occupation of Lebanon because Hezbollah had made it too costly for them, by killing Israeli soldiers. They were on high alert but we were miles behind their retreating forces. We were journalists doing our jobs. 
Abed should be celebrating the end of Ramadan with his family. They suffered a grievous loss. Israel has every right to defend itself. But we were no threat, civilians covering the story, moving openly in bright sunlight. It took many hours before Abed’s body could be recovered.”
Jeremy Bowen’s (extremely distorted) reminiscences have set off an anti-Israel Twitter-mob that comprises many Muslim names, including the BBC’s former Head of Religion, Aaqil Ahmed.

Of course, it’s “not all Muslims” etc. Or is it? On that theme, I offer you this interview with historian and expert on Islam, Raymond Ibrahim.

I seriously fear creeping Islamisation and the seemingly inevitable Islamic influence over Britain. I fear for myself and my family and I grieve on behalf of my deceased parents and for the memory of my grandparents who fled to  Britain for safety from persecution in the late 1800s.

Many prominent pro-Israel figures, including the most eloquent and articulate, are afraid to express their true fears and feelings about the rise of Islam because of a very rational and justifiable fear of being dismissed as “racists” and “ ‘phobes". Perhaps that’s why Melanie Phillips is always careful to qualify her substantive criticisms of Islam with the caveat ‘it’s not all Muslims’. 

Recently, I've been sensing that I'm not completely alone in having such concerns. It’s a fine line between bravely ‘speaking out’ and falling into the trap of being marginalised into insignificance by the politically correct mafia, and that’s one hell of a balancing act.

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