The saga that captured headlines around the world last week came to an end when Mohamed Merah—who had murdered four people, including three children, at the Ozer Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, France—was shot dead by French police. Before his death, Merah told police negotiators that he was a member of al-Qaeda. He was on a French government watch list and an American no-fly list, and he allegedly spent time in NATO custody in Afghanistan.
Nevertheless, the fact that the murderer turned out to be a violent Islamist came as a surprise to most of the media.
Just after the Jewish school was attacked, the police confirmed that the same killer had murdered three French soldiers the previous week, two of them of North African origin and the third black. The press adopted the working assumption that the killer must be a right-wing white supremacist. That hypothesis informed an "exclusive" story on the website of the weekly magazine Le Point, which revealed that French police were looking for three men who had served in the same regiment as two of the murdered soldiers but were dismissed from the French army in 2008 for having neo-Nazi sympathies.
One might have wondered why these men should have waited for four years after their dismissal to go on their killing spree, but Le Point did not wonder. The police were "persuaded," the magazine said, "that the culprit is a soldier, whether or not currently on active duty," because of "his modus operandi, the way that he gets around, and the way he handles his gun—namely his ability to aim and fire from 10 meters away." And Le Point offered its own somewhat counterintuitive argument to support this hypothesis: "The fact that his weapon jammed could also corroborate the fact that he was a former soldier."
Other media outlets were eager to pick up the story. The left-wing daily Libération ran this headline: "The Killer on the Scooter: Former Soldier, Lunatic, Neo-Nazi?" Across the Channel, the BBC's Hugh Schofield offered an even more expansive analysis. Under the subhead "Deranged Far-Rightwinger," Schofield summarized the prevailing theory: "The killer has a clear affinity with guns. Could he be a neo-Nazi type—maybe an ex-soldier or a member of the criminal underworld—with a hatred of all minorities, Jews and Muslims?" Schofield did note a problem with his theory: There was no evidence that the murdered soldiers were targeted because they were black or Muslim. But, Schofield assured readers, the absence of any evidence of such a motive was not fatal to the hypothesis: "This does not rule out that he is a far-Right fanatic, of course. He may also have a grudge against the armed forces."
True, not all the media were so convinced. The French right-wing daily Le Figaro produced a report headlined, "Killings: Islamist and far-Right leads." Le Figaro also compiled a list of attacks on Jews in France over the previous 30 years, which testifies to a wider Islamist threat to Jews. The list includes several attacks on Jewish schools in areas with large Muslim populations since the millennium. Arson attacks damaged a Jewish school in Marseille in 2009 and two schools in the Paris suburb of Gagny in 2003 and 2006. A week before the Toulouse shootings, a gang of Arab and North African youths assaulted two Jewish high school students as they left a sports field on the edge of Paris. In 2002, a group armed with iron bars and wearing Palestinian scarves to mask their faces attacked 14 adolescent Jewish soccer players on the playing field. In Toulouse in 2009, a car was driven into the gates of a synagogue and set alight with a Molotov cocktail; the police treated the incident as a response to the war in Gaza. Absent from Le Figaro's list was the most notorious anti-Semitic attack of the previous decade: the murder of the young Jewish man Ilan Halimi in 2006. Halimi had accompanied a North African girl back to her apartment after what he thought was a date. There, a group of Muslim-African immigrants known as the "Barbarians" tortured him for several days before leaving him to die, naked and bleeding profusely, near a railway line.
In this sequence of chillingly frequent attacks, the neo-Nazi theme is conspicuously absent.
The radical Islamist threat in France is not limited to the Jewish community. In November, 2011, the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo were destroyed in a firebombing after it announced that the Prophet Mohammed would be editor-in-chief of its forthcoming issue. Ten people were injured when the Indonesian Embassy in Paris was bombed in 2004, most likely by a branch of al-Qaeda. Another bomb exploded outside the embassy last week. Indonesian officials insisted that this time, their embassy was not the target, but there is suspicion that the same group was responsible for both attacks.
None of this history was enough to exculpate the French Right in the eyes of the left-wing press. Before the murderer was identified, both Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front, and President Nicolas Sarkozy were blamed for encouraging attacks on minorities with anti-immigrant rhetoric. Indeed, even the identification of Merah as the culprit has not changed the theme: Now the Right is blamed for inflaming tensions and creating resentment among minorities.
The fact remains, however, that French Jews do not lie awake at night worrying about whether they will be gunned down by President Sarkozy. Parisian Jews do not cover their yarmulkes with caps on their way to synagogue because they are afraid of being beaten to a pulp by white Frenchmen, after Marine Le Pen has given a speech appealing to the "français de souche," or true native French. This is not Vichy France; the threat today comes not from Nazis but Muslim radicals. Pretending otherwise will not make it go away.
Simon Gordon is a Tikvah Fellow at Jewish Ideas Daily.
distinguished academic, who would know better than to rehearse Pamela Geller-Daniel Pipes rhetoric.
And note: Prof. Nadler did not see fit to weigh in, as requested by a prior post, on the matter of the Joan Peters book!
word, a favorite meme of the right wing in America: exceptionalism. Talk about assimilation! Why are Jewish conservatives aping and taking their marching orders from the Christian/"Religious" right?
"some" ? Absolutely! Of course! By the same token, the Israelites' exodus from Egypt was a revolt by lazy, overpaid union workers against enlightened, benevolent, corporate management. As the High Court of Isis ruled in a landmark decision, "Pharoahs are people, too."
Plus, in the words of Orly Taitz, "Prince Moses of Egypt claims to have been born a Hebrew. Where's his birth certificate? "
Since the Enlightenment especially leftist Jews have everywhere tried to deny their difference as a culture and as a people, all the better to merge with their fellow secularist/socialist ideologues or their local national community and to escape antisemitism. They blame the group difference of Jews and Judaism for all their own assimilationist problems, not their implicitly or explicitly racist environing societies or ideologies. The present-day collusion of the left with Islamist jihadi propaganda against Israel, blaming Jews and Israel for the attacks against it by the jihadis whether Palestinian or other, is a major contemporary form of the same ideological/sociological dynamic. This article provides many illustrations of the basic pathology ... and it is a pathology.
The exceptionalism of Judaism in the Biblical period and in the past two millenia right up to the present is a constant theme both in Jewish and non-Jewish literatures. It is obvious to all. Jews who affirm their heritage did not need to wait to the present time to declare the special role of Sinai and later Judaism in world history. The Torah itself declares this. If the American form of democracy, showing its own exceptionalism, for the first time in history has constructed a non-Jewish but non-totalitarian democratic polity that has particular sympathy with Jewish difference and exceptionalism, more power to America. Jews can be grateful for that. Only leftist anti-Judaic Jews would not be.
The real problem the article highlights is the tendency on the European liberal left to exonerate and ignore Islamic antisemitism and jihadi violence, and to endorse the anti-Zionism that resonates with their own ethnic and ideological biases, even to the point of blaming the right and then, when it becomes evident that the right was not involved, even Jews themselves (note the media highlighting of alleged sins of Israel to justify the murders in Toulouse) for Islamic terrorist atrocities against Jews in France. In my first post to this page, I pointed to the book by Bernard Harrison, The Resurgence of Anti-semitism: Jews, Israel and Liberal Opinion (2006). It is about that that the debate on this page should focus. Another excellent study of the same thing is Robin Shepherd, A State Beyond the Pale: Europe's Problem with Israel (2009).
Down through the millennia, this has been the model for the most virulent, violent anti-Semitism. Jews were depicted, facts and logic to the contrary notwithstanding, as victimizers. Then they were victimized with astonishing ferocity and inhumanity."
2. The word "democracy" as a political science technical term may be relatively modern, but it accurately describes the rabbinic ideal in regard to lamdus. Similarly, the word “genocide” was not coined until the 20th century, but that is what the Torah decrees for Amalek.
3. As to the supposedly learned contributors to the work edited by Bostom, who is described as an M.D., recall that the diabolical and satanic Josef Mengele earned both an M.D. and a Ph.D. (anthropology).
4. Maniacal mimicry is appalling (or should that be ap-Paul-ing?). It would be the height of self-delusion to fall prey to the redneck cross-worshippers’ efforts to enlist Jewry as a proxy in their ongoing Christian crusade against Islam.
As for the Amalekites, they first appear in the Torah during the first days of the Exodus from Egypt and from the start show their desire to wipe out the Jews, preying by preference on the defenseless stragglers, the old and infirm, women and children--not to rob them of their possessions, since they had next to none, but simply to kill them. This was their defining and characteristic obsession, something that differentiated this tribe from all of Israel's other enemies. The genocidal obsession continued to motivate them through generations of ceaseless attacks on Judea and Israel until the Amalekites themselves were finally wiped out as a people and disappeared as individuals into other cultures. Since then, it is taught, we can know an "Amalekite" only by his or her obsession with murdering Jews--not just hating them but seeking their mass murder, as do the Nazis, Hamas, and other Palestinian terrorists. What defines the Amalekites is precisely their murderous aggression. Thus, the commandment to fight them to the end represents the responsibility of Jews to defend themselves against aggression by their would-be murderers--to fight back. It is the Biblical version of "Never Again!" There is nothing immoral in it--entirely unlike, say, the genocides of which Julius Caesar boasted in his Gallic Wars or about which the Egyptians and Assyrians bragged of in their memorial stones. The whole field of international law relating to war, the legitimacy of self-defense, and the illegitimacy of aggressive war, which is still the guide in legal thinking, was shaped and developed by Hugo Grotius, the 17th- century Dutch thinker. Grotius studied the Talmud and derived the principles he advocated from its discussions of these topics, as well as other Rabbinic sources, such as medieval commentaries (e.g., by Maimonides) and midrash relating to Biblical texts. For example, see Manfred Lachs, "Hugo Grotius' Use of Jewish Sources in On the Laws of War and Peace," Renaissance Quarterly 30 (1977): 181-200. Also see the article by Arthur Eyffinger in the previously mentioned Political Hebraism: Judaic Sources in Early Modern Political Thought, ed. Schochet, Oz-Salzberger and Jones (2008).
These are fundamental connections between the Torah and mainstream Western liberal democratic values. The Torah is not an extremist text and is certainly not socialist. Neither is it an Ayn Rand anthology. Torah Judaism combines elements of both left and right in a unique centrist God-grounded synthesis, regarding which, see Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Radical Then, Radical Now (200) [sic]. On social implications, see especially his book To Heal a Fractured World (2005) and, above all, his Future Tense (2009). Extremists on the left, such as some of those commenting here, wish to turn this into a straw man that is the polar opposite straw man to their own position--for example, into "libertarianism," "Ron Paul," "Ayn Rand," or "Patrick Buchanan," in effect deligetimating the center mainstream and, indeed, denying its very existence. It is a false antithesis.
2. My father studied with Professor Goitein. His first-hand assessment is that, although Professor Goitein had his criticisms of Islam, he would have been chagrined and embarrassed to have his work included in Bostom's vicious effort at debauching scholarship in the interests of partisan political polemic on the scale of the Nazi "scholarship" on Jews and Judaism. As to the citation of Islamophobe Bat Ye'or as a reputable scholar,better yet, wasn't Nazi-loving Martin Heidegger a world-class philosopher?
Yes, mah yafah yerusateynu. It is a truly beautiful and lofty tradition and heritage, and I am deeply grateful for knowing it and being able to be a part of it. One of the lovely things about it, in fact, is that while it is so distinctive and beautiful that one cannot help but be glad to be part of it, its teaching are far more universal than the daughter religions that have sprung from it, and are not chauvinistic. The Jewish people were created by God at Sinai, but as fulfilment of a promise to Abraham that through them would flow blessings to the whole of humanity, and so it has happened. Even to be a "kingdom of priests" dedicated to the one God of all humanity means that their laity is actually all other peoples, for whom Israel's service atones. Furthermore, only in Judaism, of the so-called "prophetic religions," is it taught that, due to the Noahite covenant and God's great mercy, salvation can be attained in all cultures and religions, not just in Judaism, and there can be righteous people of the extremely high standard of Job even in pagan polytheistic cultures. In fact, the Talmudic discussion in tractate Sanhedrin indicates that the vast majority of humanity will attain to the World-to-Come, eternal bliss. Pride in Judaism and the Jewish heritage is not chauvinistic. Or if it is thought to be, what a double standard, when it is granted that other peoples have a right to be proud of their traditions--only Jews have no such right. The whole argument is itself a form of bigotry. As for the actual phrase "Ashrenu, mah yafah yerusahteynu" (How fortunate we are, and how beautiful is our heritage), if one looks at its place in the prayer book, directly following the recitation of the Akedah, the almost-sacrifice of Isaac, one finds it is part of remarks that are the very opposite of chauvinistic or arrogant.
Bat Ye'or is acknowledged as a leading authority on the situation of "dhimmis" in the Muslim world by most contemporary scholars who deal with the subject. She has been praised in reviews in academic journals and cited by not only Bernard Lewis but many others, including authorities in the history of antisemitism itself, like Robert S. Wistrich. (See the lengthy discussion of Islamic antisemitism in Wistrich's Hitler's Apocalypse: Jews and the Nazi Legacy  and A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad .) That she is merely a "journalist" is simply untrue. One does not need a Ph.D. to write serious and respectable academic studies, nor, like Bostom, to edit knowledgeably and responsibly major academically acceptable anthologies. Bat Ye'or has published more than ten books on this general topic, all well-researched; in fact, she is largely responsible for making the subject of "dhimmitude" a legitimate field of scholarly study; it had been ignored before, since it upset Middle Eastern, Semitic, and Islamic Studies academics in the West, who naturally aimed for and depended on positive relations with their subject populations and cultures and who even had financial support from them. Critical studies of Islam and touchy topics such as the truth of Israel-Palestinian/Arab/Muslim relations have naturally been anathema to them.
Speaking of Bat Ye'or, here is what a true--i.e., non-neocon ideologue--scholar has to say about the foundation of her tendentious work: Michael Sells, John Henry Barrows Professor of Islamic History and Literature at the University of Chicago, notes that "by obscuring the existence of pre-Christian and other old, non-Christian communities in Europe as well as the reason for their disappearance in other areas of Europe, Bat Ye’or constructs an invidious comparison between the allegedly humane Europe of Christian and Enlightenment values and the ever present persecution within Islam. Whenever the possibility is raised of actually comparing circumstances of non-Christians in Europe to non-Muslims under Islamic governance in a careful, thoughtful manner, Bat Ye’or forecloses such comparison." Conclusion: The dhimmis of today are the Jews who foolishly take their marching orders from the Christian right and kneel at the cross of hate-mongering.
Regarding the comments by "Fred Cross," it is not true that Christians were pushed out of the newly established State of Israel. Rather the opposite. Israel is the only Middle Eastern state in which the percentage of Christians in the population has actually grown since 1948. It has fallen drastically in all other Middle Eastern countries. Figures on the percentages in the Encyclopaedia Britannica editions of the 1950s, compared with the figures in recent editions, show declines of up to 90% in the countries around Israel. When Israel was created, 80% of Bethlehem was Christian. It then fell under Muslim rule. By 1967, when Israel took over the territory, the percentage of Christians had shrunk to less than a third (6,400 out of 16,000), which declined slowly thereafter until Arafat took over in 1994. Now, under the Palestinian Authority, around 90% is Muslim (figures range from 5% Christians to 12%). Seven times more Lebanese live outside of Lebanon as live in it; almost all of these emigrants are Christians. There are practically no Christians left in Iraq or Iran. Copts are emigrating in large numbers right now from Egypt because of the pogroms and oppression against them. The same story is true across North Africa. The pattern is clear and has nothing to do with Israel, the only country in which Christians live well and are accepted into the general population.
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