A PERFECT MORNING

Two new pieces on the war’s beginning appear opposite.

CIVIL DEFENSE: I guess official Washington isn’t talking about this so as to prevent panic. But one thing seems pretty obvious to me. Whatever military initiative we now mount, there will surely be a response. If the people behind this attack were smart enough to have come up with this first strike, it’s surely possible that they will have anticipated a response and have at least a game-plan after that for counter-attack. Last Tuesday was a warning: that they can do anything. That “anything” could surely include a devastating nuclear, chemical or biological attack on civilian centers in this country. So shouldn’t we take precautions as a matter of extreme urgency? We need to dust down air-shelters and build many, many new ones. We need gas-masks widely distributed. We need security at reservoirs and any place where chemical or biological agents could be swiftly disseminated. We need mass inoculations against any number of toxins or viruses. I’m not a security expert but there must be a list of civil defense procedures applicable to such a situation. It should surely be in place before our retaliation begins. Why is this not being done?

GRACIOUS OLD LADY: Good for the New York Times. Their lead editorial today acknowledges that this president has grown and will continue to grow during this war. The president should also notice: he’s good informally among ordinary people. Fewer stilted speeches behind a desk with a teleprompter; more impromptu hugs and chats and off-the cuff discussion, please.

APPEASEMENT WATCH I: I’ve resisted taking on the terrorist fellow-travelers too aggressively so far. It seemed inappropriate. Now it isn’t. Take a look at Edward Said’s tirade in the current Observer. He mocks the notion that this is a battle between freedom and terrorism: “Political rhetoric in the US has overridden these things by flinging about words like ‘terrorism’ and ‘freedom’ whereas, of course, such large abstractions have mostly hidden sordid material interests, the influence of the oil, defence and Zionist lobbies now consolidating their hold on the entire Middle East, and an age-old religious hostility to (and ignorance of) ‘Islam’ that takes new forms every day.” There you have it: the classic Marxist cant about freedom merely being an instrument for sordid materialism. With the WTC perpetrators and their backers, Said has long excused violence, even symbolically joining in by throwing rocks at Israel from the border. But with the Western democracies, he cautions restraint, education, and passivity in the face of barbarism. You don’t need to read this piece too closely to see which forces he wants to triumph. And he exploits the freedom his friends want to destroy in order to make his case.

APPEASEMENT WATCH II: Another breath-taking column in the British left-wing press, this time from veteran bigot, Richard Ingrams. Who do you think was responsible for this war? Israel of course! “Noticeable was the reluctance throughout the media to contemplate the Israeli factor – the undeniable and central fact behind the disaster,” Ingrams writes, “that Israel is now and has been for some time an American colony, sustained by billions of American dollars and armed with American missiles, helicopters and tanks.” And his point? He doesn’t need to spell it out. We should be grateful, I suppose, that those who seek the extinction of the Jewish state still feel somewhat hesitant to say so outright. But like all anti-Semites, Ingrams thinks he and the West are somehow victims of the Jewish people. “Who Will Dare Damn Israel?” is his headline. Damn? After an event like last week, Ingrams wants to “damn” a country that has long been the victim of such horror. Dare? Oh, the bravery of Ingrams’ prejudice! And then further in the piece, he casts the usual ugly slur of dual loyalty on Lord Lever, a British citizen of impeccable patriotism: “Mr. Blair’s adviser on the Middle East is an unelected, unknown Jewish businessman, Lord Levy, now installed in the Foreign Office; the fact that this same Lord Levy is the chief fundraiser for the Labour Party; unmentioned also would be the close business links with Israel of two of our most powerful press magnates, Rupert Murdoch and the newly ennobled owner of the Telegraph newspapers, Lord Conrad Black.” One phrase stands out: “unelected, unknown Jewish businessman.” These are the code words of the worst kind of anti-Semitism, and it says much about the decadence of the British left that it allows such claptrap to flourish in its midst. This is the kind of British upper-class anti-Semitism that tried to stop Churchill and will now try to stop Blair from doing his duty. He mustn’t listen. And it looks like he won’t.

MORAL EQUIVALENCE AGAIN: And of course, Ingrams’ statement that no-one has raised Israel so far is untrue. Everyone is acutely aware of the role Israel plays in this crisis. It’s just that no-one but Ingrams would have thought to blame the victim at a moment like this. Except, of course, Arab anti-Semites. Like the Nazis, the fundamentalist bigots of perverted Islam have relentlessly shored up their risible regimes by scape-goating the Jews. They look at Israel and see a country of dynamism and success, of freedom and faith, a society that has created more in fifty years than any of these other satrapies have managed combined. While Israel has rebuilt a civilization, the Taliban have been busy destroying one. We know that the murderers are a tiny minority, and that the overwhelming majority of Arabs have not engaged in such atrocities. But we also know that fundamentalist anti-semitism has widespread support in that part of the world, and it’s time to stop making excuses for it. The Arab hatred of the Jews, and their deranged, envious paranoia about them, is there for all to see. It is as clear as the words in Mein Kampf. It is evil and wrong, and it is not balanced by anything comparable on the other side or justified by anything the West has done. Yes, Israel is not perfect. Yes, it has been responsible for many violations of civilized norms in defending itself from terror. But there is no moral equivalence between a tiny democracy fighting for its existence while allowing countless Israeli Arabs citizenship and prosperity in its midst – and the Arab dictatorships in Syria and Libya and Iraq. We will be subtly and constantly assaulted by the slow drip of moral equivalence in the days and months ahead. Time to start resisting now.