By Bruce Bawer
When I picture the Western world today – what used to be called the Free World – I envision it in three unequal regions.
The first and largest region consists of the United States and Canada, plus Australia and New Zealand. At its heart is the United States, whose Declaration of Independence gave birth to modern liberty. Of the three regions, this is the one that feels safest, most distant from the threat of Islamism. It is also the region where the people tend to be the most ignorant about what we are up against.
Then there is Western Europe. It’s smaller, more densely populated, and closer to the Muslim world. If Sarah Palin lived in Gibraltar, she would be able to see Morocco from her house. Islam is far more conspicuous a part of day-to-day life in Western Europe than in North America or Australia. The presence of Muslim subcultures in Europe is a regular media topic and a significant factor in political debates and elections.
I’m an American who has lived in Western Europe for twelve years. When in North America, I feel as if I’m far behind the front lines; when I return to Europe, the sense of social tension hits me like a blast of hot air. In Europe, I have witnessed mass displays of Muslim rage, seen large-scale acts of Muslim vandalism, and experienced Muslim violence. I feel increasingly ringed by enemies of freedom, in a place that will sooner or later explode into holy war.
Still, Europe is not the Free World’s front line in the looming face-off with Islamism. No, the front line is Israel – tiny Israel.
Combine America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and you’ve got 30 million square km. The Muslim world is about the same size. The EU is somewhat over a tenth as big. And Israel? It’s less than one two-hundredth the size of the EU, and its population is considerably less than one percent of the population of the Muslim world surrounding it.
And yet tiny Israel matters urgently to the Western world.
Why? Because it is a small oasis of liberty in a vast desert of tyranny. Because it is at once a living symbol of justice for the Jewish people, the great historic victims of both Islam and Europe, and a refuge for Muslims who have run afoul of brutal sharia law by being gay, being raped, or becoming apostates.
And it matters because it has become the most imperiled part of the free West – the sacrificial lamb, the canary in the mine shaft. For Islamists, it is the point of the arrow of the Dar al-Harb – the House of War, the territory of the infidel – plunging into the very heart of the Dar al-Islam. They want to destroy it because they want to destroy us.
When Israelis stand up for their own free land, they’re standing up for all of us behind the lines here in Europe and America. Yet millions of us – in our colossal ignorance, our decadent refusal to stand up for liberal values, and our cowardly desperation to appease the unappeasable – are prepared to serve Israel to Islamists on a silver platter, not realizing that we ourselves are the next course.
As an American whose ancestors fought for freedom in our Revolution and Civil War, and whose uncles served in the war to destroy the Nazi behemoth, to stand with Israel is, quite simply, to affirm the liberty for which they risked their lives and which I have been fortunate enough to inherit. The least that those of us who live in freedom in America and Europe can do is to recognize that.