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January 16, 2015 3:30 pm

France and Islam

avatar by Jeremy Rosen

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French police storm a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris. Photo: JSS News.

I hope and pray the massive demonstration in France against the barbarians who attacked Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher market will mark a sea change in European attitudes. I hope, but I am not convinced. Hollande is still stuck in the same old orthodoxies of the left, which was why he invited Abbas, of all people, to join his march.

What is the biggest threat to our freedom? It is the arrogance of the assumption that all reasonable human beings will agree with a basic value system and that if one avoids confrontation one will be able to achieve one’s ends. It is what we call appeasement. The European reaction to Hitler was to do nothing and hope the danger would pass. It did not. Inaction was taken as weakness. In the end the fight came at a catastrophic price.

It was the great achievement of the French Revolution to proclaim the theoretical values of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. But we know it soon deteriorated into mass murder and chaos. Britain achieved its freedoms and human rights through evolution rather than revolution. In both cases beautiful sentiments proved useless in the face of power and vested interests. Even in the USA, whose revolution and noble aims predated the French, discrimination, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia have continued to flourish. The reality has been that exhortations and slogans all collapse in the face of human selfishness, ever since “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Every ideal falls apart or fails when people are unwilling to fight to preserve what they value.

We are experiencing a stage in history in which one part of the universe is fighting for its insane, barbaric, medieval values and another part is all but sitting back and expecting that its value system will prevail by appeasing at home while using its military abroad. Across Europe there are no-go areas where immigrant extremists, more often than not of Muslim extraction, control whole swathes of territory. Every year hundreds of thousands of poorly educated Muslim refugees flood into Europe: 100,000 from Tunisia, 100,000 from Syria, and 100,000 from other Muslim countries, from Afghanistan to Somalia. If they were being integrated into European society, it would benefit everyone. But they are not. The laissez faire liberal policies have backfired and Europe is lost.

The apologists argue that the West is to blame for imperialism, for invading other countries, for supporting Israel. The West is responsible for causing alienation, for failing to integrate immigrants, and for not providing jobs; much of this may be true. But this sounds like a child blaming his parents for everything, besides it does not excuse random violence. It does not excuse singling out opponents for assassination with the now familiar, blood-curdling cry “Allahu Akbar.” Alienation inevitably seeks scapegoats. But some ideologies seem more prone to violent responses, to spreading extreme hatred towards the outside as well as internally. Our world is choc-a-bloc full of people who blame someone else instead of taking responsibility.

But the French problem is particular. Napoleon was the first European to give the Jews equal rights. Yet a hundred years later, France was awash with anti-Semitism as the Dreyfus Affair released the virus of prejudice and hatred against innocent human beings. You might argue it was the freedom of expression that allowed this hatred to fester. But I believe it was the tolerance of hatred, by government, church, and society and the refusal to denounce and react to it that was to blame. This also explains the craven attitude of France to the Nazis. You might have thought that the morally indignant Voltaire secularism of France would have achieved a better result. Instead it seems to hate all religions and not care until it itself is attacked.

For years now in France the mood of hatred toward Jews and Israel has been allowed to fester. There has been no corrective in the face of repeated abuse and violence. There was no serious response in France, no outrage when hundreds of thousands of its citizens bought books claiming 9/11 was a Mossad plot. No reaction to universities refusing to teach the holocaust for fear of giving offense. Anti-Semitic comedians like Dieudonné are massively popular. French media, like the British continues to vilify Israel, and in so doing it only encourages public demonstrations that place all the blame for the conflict in the Middle East exclusively on Jews and encourages and supports those who not only fail to negotiate but whip up hatred and honor child murderers. This is why so many Jews no longer feel safe in France. Meanwhile, failure to act only plays into the hands of right-wing neo-fascists. If we do not marginalize and reject hatemongers, worse ones will only emerge. France needs a Zola to write a new “J’Accuse”. Manuel Valls, the Prime Minister, has taken such a stand. He has courageously and strongly, far more so than the President, condemned the rabid hatred and called on France to reject anti-Semitism. But, as you might expect, support for his call has been polite and muted.

The refusal to confront Islamic fascism ideologically and recognize its encroachment on our culture is responsible for the fact that it has metastasized. Just consider: Hollande, Clinton, and Obama all declare that this is not a problem within Islam. That is the western world’s trope. But it takes the Egyptian President al-Sisi to tell the clerics of Al-Azhar, the premier Sunni theological college, that there is indeed a problem with Islam that the clerics must address before it destroys Islam itself. Even Nasrallah of Hezbollah, the last person I would expect to, says the same. Every day Sunnis kill Shi’a and Shi’a kill Sunnis. Don’t tell me this is a problem within Christianity. The Arab world is a sewer of current anti-Semitic literature and media. Yet much of Europe says nothing and turns a blind eye.

The official policy is that to criticize Islam is to promote Islamophobia. But I did not hear anyone in the West object that to criticize Catholic priests who sexually abused their charges would cause anti-Catholicism. If I attack the problems and myopia of Jewish fundamentalism, does that mean I am inciting Jew-hatred? Yet for some reason the liberal world refuses to recognize the threat for what it is. Europe and even America tolerate hate preachers and others inciting their audiences to despise the “other”. But very rarely is action taken.

You can hear preachers attack Jews and infidels every week in some British and European mosques. Indeed in France some Muslim schools and Imams refused to participate in the moment’s silence and the demonstrations. Yet it must be reiterated that not all Muslims buy into this hatred. Indeed in Paris there were heroic Muslims who came to the defense of Jews under attack and moderate Imams who expressed solidarity.

All religions are subject to interpretation; some interpretations are jingoistic, self-serving, and exclusionary. Others are open and inclusive. But they are both products of the religion and must be addressed as such.

Despite my religious conviction, I strongly believe that religions need to be subjected to scrutiny, criticism, and, yes, satire. All systems need it. It is the best way of getting one to see what is wrong or what needs addressing, because all systems tend to resist change, to decay and to become paralytic. Uncomfortable as I am to see American comedians like Jon Stewart poke fun of my religion, I think it is healthy. That is why I object most strongly that there exists in the USA and Britain a tacit understanding in the media not to provoke, or make fun of, or show cartoons of Islam. Charlie Hebdo’s anodyne post-massacre cover was not shown by the press in either country.

Meanwhile it is perfectly OK to make fun of Mormons and other Christian sects on Broadway. It cannot be right. If one wants a fundamentalist approach to religion one should live in that world, not the free world. The West must not capitulate. It must allow the freedom to disagree and to ridicule as much as the freedom to practice whatever weird religion one chooses (so long as you do not harm others). I might even add that one of the reasons for Jews’ success in rising in the West was that they simply had to cope with ridicule and become stronger to prove themselves. This is a lesson new immigrants of other religions would do well to learn instead of expecting to be mollycoddled.

It is one thing to be a civil or secular state, which I applaud (in no small measure because I just do not have the confidence in any religious leadership). And such a state must act to preserve its values. But if it does not respond other than with social payouts to those who preach hatred and undermine liberty, in time the secular or civil state will be overcome with hatred of all kinds or collapse altogether. That is something I believe neither Jew nor gentile would welcome. “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to remain silent.”

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  • charlie johnson

    I am always amazed that Muslims are such sticklers for moral character and standards . But yet they lie in bed with these people called “progressives” by the controlled media. But if you hear a Muslim describe their rules by their own Koran you can get an idea that they are in bed with degenerates. It must a temporary marriage of convenience for both.The offspring will be the greatest of monsters.

  • Julian Clovelley

    We do not have a credible worldview that simultaneously holds the high ground in moral and even spiritual terms. We are confronted with a religious view that for many of us, brought up within one of the many mansions within it, is incomprehensible and contradictory nonsense. Religion has stolen spiritual and moral values from comprehensible reason, and it rationalises that theft with idiotic mythologies and ludicrous theology. In doing this it makes those principles vulnerable to the discrediting that comes when a person, often after years of internal emotional struggle, walks away from the entire religious view. In rejecting the myth they walk away from the social and behavioural principles. If you are leaving anyway – why pack bags? – it is easier far to just walk away and catch the bus, plane, or train. I know this because I once did that myself, arriving in my new country with a haversack and a small suitcase.

    The response of religion to its own self discrediting has always been violent. The collapse of Catholicism at the time of the Protestant Reformation was to result in the provoking of many years of warfare. Religion, to the secular outside observer, has no real concept of coexistence and peace. Both Catholicism and Protestantism at times reverted to squabbles over territory and power relationships, and Zionism is about nothing if it is not predominantly about a highly questionable dispute over land ownership, that and an unworkable Genealogy disproved by DNA.

    Religion survives on provoking a feeling of difference and superiority. That is really what the silly clothes and haircuts found in so many are about – they are designed to differentiate and separate. It is but a small step then to producing externalised feelings of superiority and internal feelings of inferiority, a dangerous mix. Religion is also about creating complexes. At a time when identification as a Jew could be a death sentence it still demanded circumcision as a means of identification. That was simply crazy.

    Multiculturalism can only ever be a temporary and largely unstable pacifying concept in society. Ultimately only assimilation and integration is ever safe. The cultures combine, drawing from each other to create an assimilated culture that draws from all its sources. The ghettoes of muslim immigrants in Europe are no more sustainable than the enforced Jewish ghettoes of old. Ghettoes end badly from external pressure or internal collapse.

    Europe’s problem – the world’s problem – is not the failure of muslims to integrate but the sheer impossibility of society generally to integrate. Our societies are divided by the immorality of class, dependant on the possession of wealth. The classes are the real tribalisms of the 21st century – they have long been the tribalism of bourgeois capitalism. They contain what Marx called the seeds of their own destruction, but their passage to self destruction is even more violent than the concurrent passage of the religious view to a similar fate – the world’s populations are collateral damage to this internal inevitability

    There are two things a growing world cannot afford. One is the class system – the other is the religious view. What we need is a peaceful transition out of both towards a more egalitarian world society.

    In the meantime, as the ability to withstand repression and austerity weakens, as the demands of the rich on the poor become even more insatiable – as globalisation destroys employment and advancement opportunity, as Corporations seek slave labour for their factories – the pressure builds up to greater levels. The response of conservatism is even greater repression, rather than peaceful social evolution – and so I fear it may be until a combination of environmental degradation, rising population, and the inability to subsist, creates pressures that crack and explosively disintegrate the containing vessels

    We see it now. The violence can take the form of a reversion to an imagined religious age. It may take many other political, military and street violence forms. It will create new Genocides , new horrors of totalitarian regime – just as in the past it created both Stalinism and Fascism and the racist social and political pseudo religion of Nazism, and in more ancient time the Inquisition and the Crusades

    And all because our moral leaders and our political representatives and economic leaderships are so corrupted by their almost incestuous relationship with the wealthy that they try to assist their desperate attempts to stem the inevitable path of evolutionary social change. I agree with much of what you say Jeremy – but you are talking to the wrong people. But then – when did the rich ever actually listen or try to face the consequences of their own behaviour rather than blame everyone else?

    if you come to Europe you will be able to visit the museums that were once the Stately homes of an Aristocratic Upper class.. There is a message there. All things must pass. Everything must be in a state of flux to survive. Stability is often the attempted continuing impoverishment of whole classes over generations

    it is when the talking stops – the discussions abandoned – that the storm comes. Fear most the onset of silence…

  • Cause!
    Some people will say beauty is power, others will say learning is power, some will say to be stupid is good as one US politician did say, some will say silence is good, things man do no talk about did not exist, jocks, comedians are reaction or action, some will say forget what you know, to much info is boring. Some will say there is to many people on earth, I do not want to see people, I only want to have a drink with my neighbor, some will say I believe in god, the other will say religion is rubbish, some will say I hate my parents, some will say I love my dog and hate my work, all that and more of course is about individual minds. As we know the whole of the masses minds is not in accordance with emerging innovative individuals who push chaps new products where the contemporary minds becomes an old one in a few weeks, where politicians are lost finding them selves wrong where the good become bad and the bad takes over becoming a good one, early friends becomes enemies, man looks for new friends and find out that his new friends are actually friends of his enemy, political advisers does screw minds of politicians, A worldwide circus were the masses do lose interests in politicians speeches. Where accountability is no to see in the power of the words in our difficult times where people will go for the crazy man to lead the country. Just as if man destroys one wild horse brain who gallop out of the crowd where all the wild horses change direction following the crazy hors who becomes the leading presidents who moves into nowhere strait into collapse. Lets take Vietnam, let’s take Gaddafi let’s take Saddam, lets take Egypt, lets take Syria, lets take the Jews, lets make the Muslims kill each other dressed in uniform fashion clots, lets take Africa, lets take Hong Kong, lets take Putin, lets take the White House, lets take the whole world into chaos an lets watch TV news in the wood houses on snow Nordic lands, lets get drunk going to bed with a perfumed lady thinking about tomorrow global vaccination making man to become a drug addicted robot. This is all about, a Nordic party TV news time. Am I the king of hell? They say. A glory dreams of tomorrow world. A Norwegian lady did say in a Norwegian newspaper article ‘it is better to live in a known hell than living in an unknown paradise’. The message was for me. She does not know that freedom is in men’s mind and not outside there and that the paradise is a known place where man knows what can actually happen. We have seen lately the map of Israel as a Palestinian land map exhibited in Norway. The Norwegians will say, it is a freedom of expression. La France Normandy. Of course first they destroy and then restore when things did not work as they planned. If Emil Zola did not exist how the case of Dreyfus will look like?

  • Daniel Birnbaum

    Balderdash, Mr. Rosen. French Muslims are indeed well-integrated. Their religious practice is “weak” (Source : Emmanuel Todd, French-Jewish historian). Supported by the entire French left, Captain Dreyfus was re-tried, acquitted, rehabilitated, promoted to major, and made secretary of defense!(Multiple sources).France is not an anti-Semitic country. (Sources: The French-Jewish sociologists Michel Wieviorka and Nonna Mayer, the Pew Research Institute of Washington, the Sofres-Taylor polls, the last three French-Jewish leaders (Klein, Prasquier, Cukierman), Israeli diplomats (Barnavi and Ben-Ami), the French-Jewish media expert G.Weill-Raynal,etc etc). The French anti-Semite Dieudonné is anything but “massively popular”, Mr. Rosen, and he is looking at a sentence of seven years for the crime of championing terrorism.

  • Sonia Willats

    Excellent! As always, so well said.

  • Brian Shapiro

    We know what happens when we speak out. The whistle blower gets fired. We are misinterpreted in ways that cause us long term difficulties.

  • Ivan Gur-Arie

    In this battle with Islamic insanity, I firmly believe that the West hinders itself with its obsession to the idea of fighting the clean fight according to the Marquis of Queensbury rules when the other side is fighting with no such restrictions and uses the restrictions we hold so dear to defeat us.