Melanie Phillips: The West's lethal ignorance

11 November 2007

As I have documented on this blog on numerous occasions, there is a growing and influential lobby promoting the idea that there are within the global Muslim Brotherhood (whose founder, Hassan al Banna, is pictured here) moderate elements with whom the west can do business in common cause against al Qaeda and Iran. Those who subscribe to this view, including ‘conflict resolution’ (sic) outfits such as Conflicts Forum and Forward Thinking, along with individuals such as the former Yossi Beilin aide Daniel Levy and the Tory MP Michael Ancram, are assiduously pushing for ‘engagement’ with Hamas, Hezbollah and other Islamists. This message is beginning to achieve some traction within the establishment. The Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs said in its report last summer:

As long as the Muslim Brotherhood expresses a commitment to the democratic process and non-violence, we recommend that the British Government should engage with it and seek to influence its members.
The lethal ignorance and naivety of this view have now been magisterially exposed in this paper by Jonathan Halevi of the Jerusalem Institute for Public Affairs. Among many insights, he points out that those very signs of Brotherhood ‘moderation’ sized on by the engagement lobby are themselves a strategy of jihad:
It is evident that the Muslim Brotherhood does not hide its global aspirations and the violent path it intends to follow to achieve them. The Muslim Brothers are meticulous in their step-by-step plan first to take over the soul of the individual and then the family, people, nation and union of Islamic nations, until the global Islamic state has been realized. The principle of stages dictates the Muslim Brotherhood's supposed ‘moderation,’ which impressed Leiken and Brooke so deeply. However, that ‘moderation’ will gradually vanish as Muslim Brotherhood achievements increase and acceptance of the existing situation is replaced by a strict, orthodox Muslim rule whose foreign policy is based on jihad.
And as for making common cause against al Qaeda, Halevi writes:
The Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda differ regarding tactics but share a common strategy. Al-Qaeda favors an implacable jihad to destroy the economies of the Western countries. The Muslim Brotherhood supports terrorism and jihad against foreign presence in the Islamic world, but its top priority is constructing a Muslim infrastructure in the West which will slowly but surely enable it to rule during the 21st century. As far as the final goal is concerned, there are no policy differences between al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. The two organizations have the same objective: to place the entire world under an Islamic caliphate.
In its desperate desire to avoid facing the truth about what we are up against, our establishment is falling into a classic trap. Believing that it can play off one set of Islamists against another, it does not have the humility or wit to grasp that instead it is being played by them like a fish on a line.