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
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
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
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