CRISIS IN THE LEBANON – 20 July 2006

Dr Julian Lewis: As I am morally bound to speak for just three minutes – and I shall do so – I shall make only two points. The first is to agree with my hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Sir Patrick Cormack) when he said that various people will be rubbing their hands with glee at the developments that have taken place. In particular, the strategists in Tehran will be doing so, because Hezbollah would not have initiated this cycle of violence and counter-action without orders and permission from Iran. We have to ask why Iran would want to give that permission. The answer is obvious when we look at the proportion of time spent in this very debate on the issue of the confrontation between Israel and Lebanon, compared with the time spent on the Iranian quest for nuclear weapons. This development is assisting Iran in its quest to become a nuclear power, and we should draw appropriate lessons from that.

I thought today that, for the first time in nine years in this House, I would agree with something said by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Sir Gerald Kaufman), when he told the story of the frog and the scorpion and how they both drown because the scorpion stings the frog in mid-river, despite not being able to swim. However, for some reason, the right hon. Gentleman chose to change the ending. The ending actually is that as they are both drowning, the scorpion admits to the frog that it knew that it would also die, but it could not help stinging because that is in its nature.

What is the nature of some of the groups that are operating in the conflict today? We owe a debt to my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove), who has just published a new book, Celsius 7/7, which traces some of the ideological roots of Islamism. He quotes one of its founding fathers as saying, when talking about the ideal Islamist state, that

"a state of this sort cannot evidently restrict the scope of its activities ... It seeks to mould every aspect of life and activity in consonance with its moral norms and programmes of social reform. In such a state, no one can regard any field of his affairs as personal and private. Considered from this perspective the Islamic State bears a kind of resemblance to the Fascist and Communist states."

What we are dealing with, in Hamas and Hezbollah, are totalitarian movements. This House can prate all it likes about immediate ceasefires and two-state solutions, but as long as there are actors on the scene who do not wish for anything else but to create a new holocaust as they deny the last one, those solutions will not suffice.