Is anyone else outraged by this equivocation? Modern Israel has only fought defensive wars and has never threatened its neighbors. Israel, if left alone, is a threat to nobody. Iran, on the other hand, has threatened to wipe Israel off the map. Doesn't anyone see the two as just a wee bit different? I can only find one possible reasons for such a statement: to placate (appease?) Muslims at home and abroad.
Do comments like this help Britain's standing in the Arab and Muslim world? Of course not. Iranian, Palestinian, and other Muslim clerics constantly have sermons claiming Islam will eventually rule Britain and America. On Friday evening, just over a day after Mr. Straw's comments, Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called the United States, Britain, and Israel the "triad of evil". Today in Gaza the the British consulate was burned and the British cultural center was vandalized. This came after British jailers left a prison in Jericho fearing for their lives. The IDF then came in to capture the killers of the late Minister of Tourism, Rehevam Ze'evi. Palestinians claimed that Britain was part of an Israeli conspiracy, as if this was justification for the destruction and the kidnapping of British subjects in the West Bank.
Nothing Foreign Minister Straw will say or can say will ever change the fact that in many corners of the Muslim world the British, like their American counterparts, can do no right. Britain simply cannot be forgiven by the radicals and fundamentalists in the Muslim world for it's role in Iraq, for failing to be sufficiently anti-Zionist, and for simply being other than Islamic. No amount of equivocation or appeasement will ever change that.
Someday the governments in both the U.K. and the U.S. will have to figure out who their friends are and who their enemies are. They clearly haven't done it yet.