French Philosopher: ‘Left-wing Islamism and antisemitism have a future’

One of France’s most important philosophers and a widely recognized public intellectual, Alain Finkielkraut, sounded strong alarm bells over the rise of left-wing Islamism and radical antisemitism.

Alain Finkielkraut in the Institut de France library, Paris, France, December 1, 2016. (photo credit: REUTERS/BENOIT TESSIER)
Alain Finkielkraut in the Institut de France library, Paris, France, December 1, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS/BENOIT TESSIER)
One of France’s most important philosophers and a widely recognized public intellectual, Alain Finkielkraut, has sounded strong alarm bells over the rise of left-wing Islamism and radical  antisemitism.
“In France, it [antisemitism] is part of the extreme Left and a growing part of the population with a migration background,” he told the German magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday. “It is particularly worrying that the extreme left defends radical, antisemitic Islam for two reasons: ideologically, because for them, the Muslims are the new Jews, the disenfranchised; but also for tactical reasons, because today there are many more Muslims than Jews in France. So, left Islamism also has a future, and I’m afraid of that.”
In February, a Yellow Vests protester hurled antisemitic insults at Finkielkraut, calling him a “dirty Zionist shit” who should “go back to Tel Aviv.”
“Antisemitism is not a thing of the past, it even has a future,” Finkielkraut said. “I was actually the object of aggression with a proven antisemitic character. But I was not called ‘dirty Jew’ but ‘dirty  Zionist shit.’ The peculiarity of contemporary antisemitism is that it uses the language of anti-racism. Because of the existence of Israel, the Jews are now considered racists. ‘Filthy Jew’ – that was a morally disgraceful term. ‘Dirty racist’ – that is highly moral today.”
According to Der Spiegel, in Finkielkraut’s new autobiography, In First Person, he writes about how he and the leftist, gay philosopher Michel Foucault opposed the loathing of Israel during the 1970s.
“Michel Foucault was very attached to Israel,” Finkielkraut said. “That is forgotten today. He found the United Nations resolution which put racism and Zionism on the same level as intolerable. That was one of the reasons for the break between him and Gilles Deleuze, the other great philosopher of the era. The left-wing intellectuals around Deleuze were just beginning to demonize the State of Israel beyond legitimate criticism of Israeli politics. It occurred to me as much as to Foucault.”
The French philosopher Foucault, like many left-wing critics of his era, embraced the Islamic Republic of Iran. In a series of 1979 articles in Italy’s daily Corriere della Sera, Foucault waxed lyrical about the “historical significance” of Khomeinism and “its potential to overturn the existing political situation in the Middle East and thus the global strategic equilibrium ... Islam – which is not simply a religion, but an entire way of life, an adherence to a history and civilization ...”
Finkielkraut said democracies in Western Europe are dominated by “one past ... that of Nazism and the Shoah. Everything else is forgotten.
This kind of memory blinds us to the reality of the present ... we do not recognize the new forms of antisemitism. And when we recognize them, we underestimate them. Fortunately, we are mobilizing against antisemitism that stems from the neo-Nazi milieu. You can find it in Alsace, in Germany, in Italy. This antisemitism has not disappeared, the radical right-wing scene is still active. “
However, “left-wing antisemitism is more difficult to deal with,” he said, adding the “hatred of the Jews is very widespread in the Arab countries. Germany has recently opened its doors wide to a large number of immigrants from these countries.”
“Germany is therefore already encountering a different, new antisemitism,” Finkielkraut said. “Will Germany withstand this? Will Germany react to the new antisemitism with exactly the same harshness and relentlessness as against the emergence or reappearance of neo-Nazism? We’ll see about that. Germany may find this just as difficult as France.”


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