By Barry Rubin
27 March, 2012
Radicalism is being passed on to the third generation through Islamic schools, mosques and indoctrination at home. In effect, France and other countries are turning themselves into permanently unstable bi-national states. That’s dangerous
The murders in Toulouse should be a wake-up call for France and all of Europe. True, the assaults on Jews and French soldiers were three individual terror attacks perpetrated supposedly by a single individual. The more information that emerges, however, the clearer it becomes that this terrorist was well connected to a bigger Al Qaeda network.
Even more important, these shootings are among dozens of anti-Semitic incidents that happen daily in France and throughout Europe. A big story like the Toulouse attack can draw attention to a broader, dangerous political and social trend.
Or it can be treated as an isolated incident: Nothing to see here, move along, and go back to sleep. Al Qaeda terrorists don’t pull up in front of Jewish schools to murder teachers and students every day, right?
In the past, the mass media could be expected to present a debate on how to interpret this event but now all too often they give a monopoly to the whitewashers and the apologists.
Perhaps the leading ‘professional’ apologist for France in this context is Justin Vaisse. In an article in Foreign Policy, ‘The “New Normal” in France?’, he claims that Mohammed Merah, the Toulouse terrorist, was sort of a sad sack character who was merely seeking to take his fate into his own hands and to emerge as the defender of oppressed Muslims in France. In other words, he’s sort of a combination of self-help fanatic and crime-fighting superhero.
As for France itself, anti-Semitism is supposedly declining. There’s no problem and major attacks on Jews are few. Everything is just fine. No need to make changes; no need to demand that Muslims teach tolerance and fight against extremists in their own ranks; no need to provide more protection for Jewish institutions. And no need for a real soul-searching about the constant demonisation of Israel in the French media and, at times, schools.
Is this disgusting? Yes and it’s also dangerous. The subhead on the article tells us the Toulouse attack is merely “a banal and fading version of extremism”. To a Jewish ear, the word ‘banal’ recalls the famous Hannah Arendt line about the “banality of evil” in the Holocaust, while the word ‘fading’ means the problem is going away.
It so happens that I have met Mr Vaisse and discussed these issues with him. At that time he was an adviser on Islam in the French Government. He had just written a book saying that there was no real political problem regarding Muslims in France. The book was quickly translated into English and published by a prestigious Washington research center.
According to Mr Vaisse, the entire difficulty lay with economic and social issues. The problem was that Muslims were poor and badly treated. If this were fixed then there would be no radicalism, Islamism, or terrorism.
I asked him: Accepting your premise for the moment, why should we possibly believe that France can solve the economic and social problems involved? There aren’t good jobs; there is no prospect of better housing and higher living standards. Government regulations discourage entrepreneurship. So in the context of your worldview, isn’t the prospect for more radicalisation and violence? He simply gave no serious answer.
But there’s more. A colleague asked Mr Vaisse what sources he used in composing his study. Only French-language sources, he replied. My astonished colleague said that nothing could be understood without looking also at the Arabic material that French Muslims were writing and reading. In fact, this person added, there was an Arabic-language bookstore within five minutes’ walk of Mr Vaisse’s office and we could go there right now and see the radical, anti-Semitic child-raising manuals being sold there. These books, my colleague added, weren’t just sitting on the shelves they were being bought and used.
Mr Vaisse showed zero interest in this point. For him, revolutionary Islamism is simply not a factor of any importance. While he correctly points out that many French Muslim activists aren’t personally pious in their behavior (drinking alcohol, for example), this is besides the point. Islamism becomes a form of ethnic nationalism for them, justifying anti-Jewish and general anti-French actions.
In addition, this is no transient “second-generation” phenomenon. For over time, the radicalism is passed on to the third generation through Islamic schools, mosques, and indoctrination at home. In effect, France and other countries are turning themselves into permanently unstable bi-national states.
In the end, hiding the truth only ensures that the problem grows and the tragedies are repeated. And unfortunately that is precisely what’s happening.
Source: The Pioneer, New Delhi