British intelligence chief: Terror threat in Britain lessened
MI5 head Jonathan Evans said Wednesday prosecutions have reduced risk. But Europe's siding with Israel on Gaza may incite European Muslims to hostility.
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Britain's Young Muslim Advocacy Group also sent a letter to Prime Minister Brown this week, says the Guardian, warning that the Israeli offensive on Gaza was "undermining efforts to reduce homegrown radicalization."Skip to next paragraph
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"We are in grave danger of sending a message to youth today that the mass murder of civilians can be justified if the right grievances are cited. In the current climate there is a real danger young people who witness the impotence of institutions that are supposed to be protecting innocent life will turn to other organisations in an effort to make their voices heard and the violence stop."
European Union leaders this week flanked Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as she told the world's news media, "We are all opposed to terrorism." For many observers in Europe, the moment underscored a little-noted but ongoing convergence between European and US-Israeli thinking – despite the tragedy and challenge that Gaza presents.
For decades, Europe was a Middle East counterbalance – generally sympathetic to Palestinians as the weaker party, critical of an unqualified US backing of Israel. The Palestine Liberation Organization had offices in Europe. France's Navy helped Yasser Arafat escape Tripoli in 1983. Europe backed the Oslo Accords, and saw the Palestinian cause as a fight for territory and statehood.
Yet Europe's traditional position on the Arab dispute has been quietly changing: It is gravitating closer to a US-Israeli framing of a war on terror, a "clash of civilizations," with a subtext of concern about the rise of Islam – and away from an emphasis on core grievances of Palestinians, like the ongoing Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and "occupation."
The Gaza crisis has already led to an uptick in anti-Jewish incidents in several European countries, such as Britain, Sweden, and France, reports the Associated Press. These have included attempted arson attacks at synagogues in Toulouse, France; Helsingborg, Sweden; and in North London, as well as a rash of vandalism and assaults across the continent.
"In Britain, the Community Security Trust, a Jewish defense group, said it had seen a rise in anti-Semitic incidents since the start of Israel's offensive against Gaza. The group said it recorded 20-25 incidents across the country in the past week — a sizable increase from 2-3 incidents usually reported to the group over the Christmas-New Year period."