Jews, not Israel, are the Islamists' target

Now that the latest terror threat has been neutralised - with a little help from the Saudis - we've entered the predictable post mortem phase. This is the political scrum in which government, security, intelligence and law enforcement authorities scramble to apportion blame and devise strategies to keep air travel safe.

For British Jews, there are important lessons to grab hold of before lurching reactively to the next security crisis.

The first is to take a long, cold look at just where the explosive devices aboard the UPS cargo planes were headed. While the prevailing intelligence concludes it to be an operation of al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one detail looms large: they were addressed to two synagogues in Chicago.

Notwithstanding forensic evidence that they were rigged to explode before reaching their destination, the fact remains that those who masterminded the operation - not unlike the complex and sophisticated planning that went into the terror attack on Mumbai - singled out a Jewish institution as the uncontested object of their animus.

Each country that accepts Jews is a target for elimination

This brings into focus the reality that it is Jews and Judaism - not Israel - that constitute the core hatred pulsating through the totalitarian ideology of modern Islamism, as espoused by Sayyid Qutb and forged into a jihadist strategy by al-Qaeda.

According to the Quilliam Foundation: "AQAP remains loyal to Bin Laden's overall vision of establishing a Caliphate ruled by 'sharia law' - an ambition to be realised by expelling 'Jews and Crusaders' from the Middle East."

'Loyal' seems to be putting it mildly.

Ever since the bombs were intercepted a week ago, intelligence sources have been pointing the finger at the charismatic American-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, AQAP's 'spiritual leader'.

'Cyber-terror CEO' is more like it. Al-Awlaki has radicalised a virtual alumni association of murderous acolytes, in part through his prolific use of social media like Facebook and YouTube to spread his American-accented ideology of violent jihad.

Not only were his sermons attended by three of the 9/11 hijackers, al-Awlaki (who once lived in London) is said to have inspired Major Malik Nadal Hasan, the US Army psychologist who killed 13 soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, prepped the Nigerian 'underwear bomber' Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in his attempt to bring down a Detroit-bound airplane last Christmas, and planted the motivational seed for Faisal Shahzad in his foiled attempt to dismember and maim hundreds of New Yorkers in Times Square.

Now, it turns out, al-Awlaki seems also to have radicalised the convicted would-be assassin Roshonara Choudhry, who stabbed Stephen Timms MP earlier this year and whose identification with her jihadist, apocalypse-now worldview was so total that she refused to acknowledge the authority of the British court that found her guilty of attempted murder.

All this, of course, gives an eloquent lie to the myopic bien pensant mantra that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is the source of all regional conflicts and global terror. It is, rather, the Jews - their religion, their history, their beliefs, their national project but above all their embodiment as a living contradiction to Islamic supremacy - that are the real target, and that makes every country that accepts Jews under a multicultural umbrella a target for elimination.

It also is a reminder of how much more seriously we need to take such ideas and
ideology in formulating a response.

To put it bluntly: when such ideas are now so easily absorbed by young Muslims, we should be - at the very least - uneasy when the likes of Lutfur Rahman, backed by the Islamic Forum Europe, are elected to office.

With Jewish institutions so explicitly targeted, it is time to revisit the conclusion of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism that it is the responsibility of the state, not the Jewish community, to guarantee our freedoms as British citizens.

This was the thesis presented by Prof Gilbert Kahn at the inaugural conference of the International Association for the Study of Antisemitism, held at Yale University in August. Kahn, who has researched (and lauded) the British fight-back against antisemitism over the past decade, thinks the current political climate provides an opportunity for self-assertion.

"Fighting and preventing antisemitism is an essential part of the job of the government," he writes. "Anglo-Jewish leaders can and should lobby aggressively for increased funding for community protection. Jews do not need to accept excuses of money shortages, bad times or other crises. Antisemitic acts are racist. Security is a civil right."

Given the events of last week, isn't it precisely the moment to assert this right more robustly than ever before?

    Last updated: 4:28pm, November 4 2010