Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

France, Israel and the Jews

 


There has been widespread condemnation of attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Kosher market in Paris, with interesting differences between the condemnations.

There are Muslims condemning both as deviations from true Islam, while other Muslims praise both as appropriate defense measures for the sake of Islam. And some Muslims condemn the attack on Charlie Hebdo but praise the attack on the Jews.

A recent YouTube featuring an ambassador from the Arab League assigns much of the blame for Middle Eastern ferment to Jews who control the media and entertainment, and turn Americans away from recognizing the source of the problem in Israeli occupation.

Against this are the comments of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, speaking to Islamic clerics at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University.

“It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma (multinational community of Muslim believers) to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world... we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world ... is waiting for your next move... because the Islamic community is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.”

What may have been four million persons marching in Paris and other cities of France was also an opportunity for European politicians, as well as Abbas, Erdoan, Natanyahu, Lieberman, and Bennett to appear and express themselves. The U.S. was notably missing from ranking officials who felt it appropriate to participate.

Netanyahu conveyed a view prominent here that the weekend events are yet another demonstration that Jews can only be safe in Israel. Israeli media ranging from Israel Hayom to Ha’aretz projected significant increases in migration from France, already the source of the largest recent migrations to Israel.

Western governments are sensitive. They see Jews as citizens who have protection. They also see Jews as assets for their skills, whose loss would harm the national economies and cultures.

French officials have made it clear that recruiting Jews is acceptable, but they strongly oppose linking any campaign to anti-Semitism. The United States has opposed any active recruiting of Jews by Israeli institutions, while accepting the presence of Israeli emissaries who assist Jews who initiate inquires about migration. 

Bibi is also playing politics. He’s competing with Avigdor and Naftali, and may also be letting President François Hollande know the cost of voting with Palestine in the UN.

Commentators saw signs of tension between Hollande and Netanyahu in their joint appearances. There are reports that the French asked Netanyahu not to come, but there he was in the second row, moving up to the front row as the VIP march proceeded. 

Jewish activists are waving the flag of aliyah as the cure for all evil.

The four victims of the attack at the Kosher market were buried in Jerusalem, with the president and other ranking officials attending the ceremonies.

No doubt there is considerable evil that targets Jews.

However, not all Israelis want to encourage French migration. There is reluctance to meddle in a population that is divided between traditional Jews, many of them a generation or two removed from North Africa, and highly educated, highly integrated Jews of European origins, many of whom think of themselves as being more French than Jewish. There is a view that a strong Israeli effort will encourage anti-Semitism, not only of Muslims but of others who are already inclined to see Israel as too forceful an actor on the world stage, and a source of unrest.

Skeptics ask if Israel can absorb all the world’s Jews, and are concerned about the weakening of Jewish institutions in various countries that have shown a capacity to support different religious and cultural approaches to being Jews.

Countries also differ in their capacity to protect their people.

The U.S. responded to 9/11 by significant increases in the control of its borders, in the process making air travel less pleasant. There has also been an increase in the intrusive capacity of American authorities. If it’s not ethnic profiling, it is close to that in targeting individuals with known or suspected ties to the terror that is disproportionately if not exclusively Islamic.

French officials are admitting lapses in their intelligence activities. They had the participants in the recent actions on their watch list, but had stopped surveillance on them years ago, due perhaps to overload. While the French traditions are more centralized and control oriented than the American, the country is handicapped by having a much larger Muslim population and being part of Europe and its post-war traditions of open borders.

Israelis are better protected from Islamic extremists than either the French or Americans. Their security forces have been at the task longer, have the support of the population and political establishment, have invested heavily in intelligence assets within Arab communities, are not bothered by ethnic profiling, and manage to liquidate most plots while still being planned.

What comes next in France and elsewhere in Europe?

We’ve heard speculation about popular reaction against Muslims, ranging from pogroms to lesser actions making life unpleasant for Muslims or those looking like Muslims, and greater support for nationalist parties.

There still lots of Muslims looking for a better life, fleeing Syria, Iraq, Yemen and several countries of Africa, including places where the natives acquired French in the colonial past. Most want to work and be quiet. Many are not religious; but they and their children are exposed to the fury of religious preachers. The terrorists of the weekend were all born in France. Two are said to have reached the level of intensity in behalf of Islam while in prison on earlier charges. There as elsewhere, the prisons are graduate schools of criminal intent and skill.

These episodes could pass like other episodes of violence in Britain and Spain as well as previous incidents in France. Europeans value the good life, business as usual, appropriate protests, but no decisive action in a setting entrenched by decades of migration and progressive legislation.

Will these events make it easier for Israel to do what is necessary to defend itself? 

Or will it increase the volume of crazies who think our existence is the cause of it all?

Ira Sharkansky is a professor (Emeritus) of the Department of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

 

Reader Comments
(0)

 
 

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2018