Our World: Scapegoating our friends

The problem in Europe isn't Islamophobia. It is Islamist intentions.

glick long hair 88 (photo credit: )
glick long hair 88
(photo credit: )
There is something insidious about half-truths. To accept a half-truth demands accepting also a lie. Last week, readers of The Wall Street Journal were presented with a particularly insidious half-truth along with a lie in the form of an op-ed by University of Haifa professor and prominent Israeli intellectual Fania Oz-Salzberger. Oz-Salzberger's article, "With Friends like These… Jews, beware of Islamophobes bearing gifts," was a broadside against Israel's supporters in Europe. The column began with a breezy recognition and cool condemnation of European hostility toward Israel. Oz-Salzberger went on to elegantly deride the opportunistic and sleazy embrace of the Holocaust by the same European elites who reject Israel's right to exist. Then, having duly expressed the self-evident truth of European moral corruption, Oz-Salzberger moved on to her lies. She turned her attention to Israel's tiny group of ardent supporters in Europe and their little umbrella organization, the European Coalition for Israel (ECI). These people, she alleged, are no-good bigots motivated purely by their racism against Muslims, or the view that "The enemies of Israel are also a threat to Europe." In her most devastating paragraph, Oz-Salzberger wrote, "I, for one Israeli, would be grateful to my newfound buddies if their sympathy for me did not rely on trashing another religion. Unlike them, I am touched by the sight of young Muslim women on European university campuses. They remind me of my own grandmother, a student in Prague who had to flee after the Nazi rise to power, and of all the other young and hopeful Jews whose dreams and lives were shattered by the European culture they so admired. I will therefore not solicit support based on unqualified dislike of other human groups, least of all on the continent that kicked out my grandparents." Is it really possible that her grandmother or any Jewish student in European universities before the Holocaust would accept her comparison of them with Muslim students in European universities today? NO DOUBT, the Jewish students in European universities - like European Jewry in general - would have broken down and cried in exultation had the treatment they received from the Europeans then been even vaguely similar to that which European Muslims receive today. Indeed, drawing parallels between the subjugation and genocide of European Jewry during the Holocaust and the treatment of European Muslims today runs dangerously close to Holocaust denial. Aside from the vast difference between Europe's treatment of its Muslims today and its Jews 60 years ago, there is the issue Oz-Salzberger's protestation that those Jews and today's Muslims are comparable in and of themselves. For while she notes that European Jews "admired" European culture, and identified with it, it is far from clear that Muslim students share their admiration. According to a Pew Research Center poll taken last spring, 81 percent of British Muslims identify with their religion, while only 7 percent identify with Britain. In Germany, 13 percent of Muslims identify themselves as Germans while 66 percent identify as Muslims. Similar numbers were recorded in Spain. In France, Muslims are almost evenly split, with 42 percent identifying as French citizens and 46 percent identifying as Muslims. PERHAPS THE greatest disparity between European Jewry in the 1930s and European Muslims today is their disparate views of Jews. While European Jews overwhelmingly liked Jews European Muslims don't like Jews. The Pew poll showed that only 32 percent of British Muslims, 38 percent of German Muslims, and 28 percent of Spanish Muslims have a favorable view of Jews. While 71 percent of French Muslims professed a favorable view of Jews, the 29 percent who did not state such a view no doubt include, among others, Ilan Halimi's murderers. As is the case throughout Europe, in Prague itself - the city of Oz-Salzberger's memory - evidence suggests that jihadists are making inroads. A 2005 Czech documentary film, I Muslim included candid camera footage from inside a Prague mosque. The film showed Muslims proclaiming their support for Islamic terror and for the replacement of civil law with Shari'a law - including the death penalty for adultery - throughout the Czech Republic. And Sorbonne professor Guy Milliere wrote recently: "In many French cities with a growing radical Islamist population, no teenage girl can go out in the evening, at least without a full burqa - otherwise she's admitting that she's worse than a whore and asking to be raped." Yet Oz-Salzberger ignores all of this in her bid to publicly malign Israel's supporters in Europe for their alleged racism - a racism whose sole alleged manifestation lies in their insistence on warning about the rising jihadist threat to European civilization. Ignoring that threat herself, Oz-Salzberger unfairly conflates those who bravely express the need to confront the danger of jihad with racists. Oz-Salzberger's analysis devolves rapidly from the vindictive to the bizarre. In her conclusion, she recommends that Israelis act as Islam's defenders in Europe by pointing out irrelevantly that 1,000 years ago Jews flourished under Islamic rule. THE ODDEST thing about Oz-Salzberger's attacks is that during the European Coalition for Israel's fourth annual conference last September, which she invokes as proof of its members' racism, no hateful diatribes against Islam were issued. In fact, a review of the 28 pages of minutes from their conference - available on the ECI's Web site - shows that during the two-day affair, European funding of the Palestinian Authority, and UNWRA was scrutinized. EU commissioners were asked to justify their statements against European newspapers that published the cartoons of Muhammad last year. The European media was criticized for its inherent hostility toward Israel. The EU's policy of ignoring the persecution of Christian communities in the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon and the Arab world in general was criticized. In this vein, the ECI hosted Palestinian Greek-Orthodox pastor Naim Khoury from Bethlehem. After telling the conference how his church was firebombed repeatedly by jihadists, Khoury noted that Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Christians are not persecuted for their religious beliefs. Khoury demanded to know why the EU has refused to defend Christians in the PA, Lebanon and the Middle East. So too, a Lebanese Christian spokesman, who, fearing Hizbullah, spoke incognito, told the attendees that Hizbullah has prevented Christian villagers from the south from returning to their homes after this summer's war with Israel. He demanded to know why the Europe's UNIFIL forces are doing nothing to prevent Hizbullah's persecution of Christians and reassertion of control over south Lebanon. As to European Muslims, ECI members called for funds to be raised to begin an outreach program to Muslim youth in high school to give them an option other than jihad early on. So too, they called for a public awareness campaign to inform Europeans about Muslim Brotherhood activities on the continent. That is, far from engaging in racist attacks, ECI conference participants called for the tools of liberal democracy - deliberation and debate - to be used to launch a war of ideas against the ideology of jihad that is swiftly gaining currency over an ever-growing proportion of European Muslims. SO WHY Oz-Salzberger's unfathomable broadside against ECI? The only readily available explanation is the identity of its members. ECI is made up of a handful of Christian groups: Bridges for Peace; Christian Friends of Israel, Christians for Israel; the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, and Operation Exodus. Oz-Salzberger laments the fact that Israel's European friends are not leftist atheists like the late Orianna Fallaci, "whose commitment to the Jews stemmed from her heroic anti-Fascist youth, and whose harsh critique of Islam came from an enraged liberal soul." But if she had bothered to listen to what the members of the ECI said she would see that their commitment to Jews stems from their enraged liberal souls too. Like Fallaci, their liberalism arouses their commitment to the preservation of the Judeo-Christian foundations of Europe. Unlike Fallaci, at least until her later years, the root of their commitment to human freedom is their Christian faith. AND SO, at last, we discover the true irony in Oz-Salzberger's attack on Israel's European friends. In attacking these courageous European Christians she is attacking, rather than upholding, the liberal values of tolerance she professes. There is nothing liberal about attacking Christian supporters of Israel simply because their religious beliefs are different from ours. Moreover, morality is inverted and corrupted by the likes of Oz-Salzberger who, on the one hand, purport to "respect" Muslims while denying the xenophobia, bigotry, misogyny and anti-Semitism that dominates so many European Muslim communities today; and, on the other hand, decry Christian faith that is coupled with amity, calls for dialogue, and the moral courage to confront true evil. Israel's friends deserve better than this. Israelis deserve better than this. And we all deserve the full truth.