It was fascism in Toulouse

The original suspects for the cold-blooded murder in Toulouse of Jonathan Sandler, his young children Aryeh and Gabriel, and 8-year old Miriam Monsonego were three neo-Nazis. Police had linked the atrocity to the fatal shooting, a few days earlier, of three French off-duty paratroopers, who also happened to be Muslim.  It did seem reasonable to assume that the killer was a far-right activist, “collecting” ethnic minority victims.

The discovery that the killer was actually Mohamed Merah, an Islamist linked to Al-Qaida, will not surprise anyone alive to the reality of Muslim radicalization in Europe. However, it will be interesting to see whether the great liberal consciences of the West, who were poised to loudly condemn this latest demonstration of murderous contemporary fascism, will now fall silent, or whether they will press on with their intended message. For make no mistake, this is fascism.


WRITING AFTER the 9/11 atrocities, the late, great Anglo-American polemicist Christopher Hitchens coined the phrase “fascism with an Islamic face” to describe the ideology driving the perpetrators.   He subsequently, in hundreds of articles, speeches and televised interviews and debates, referred to the contemporary threat of “Islamo-fascism”.  For what is “fascism” if not a worldview that is profoundly anti-democratic, aggressive, implacable and all-too-willing to countenance mass-murder in the pursuit of its aims.

This does not mean we should ignore the threat of the secular far-right in Europe – extremists always thrive in adverse socio-economic conditions – but the extreme nationalists in Belgium, Hungary and, yes, France, do not pose a threat to western civilization as do the forces of revolutionary Islam.

Yes there are differences aplenty between an Islamist nationalist movement like Hamas and the disparate, global Jiihadists of Al-Qaida, but both share a fundamental – and fundamentalist – belief in the certainty of the justice of their cause and the righteousness of the killing of innocents for the sake of that cause. Both share a hatred of liberal democratic societies and their legal and civil protections of the rights of women, homosexuals and religious and ethnic minorities.

Alongside these Sunni extremists, one can place the Shi’ite Islamists of Iran and their proxy terror group Hizballah.

Again, there are differences, theological above all, between extremists from the two branches of Islam, but Iran does not disagree with Hamas’s diagnosis of the ‘sicknesses’ of western society, nor on the necessary cure: a sharia-based society where women’s rights are restricted, where homosexuals are executed and where non-Muslims are second-class citizens.

Finally, what all these representatives of the new fascism share is an old staple of the European far-right – antisemitism. It can be found in the overt Jew-hatred of Al-Qaida and Hamas, the Holocaust denial of the Iranian regime and the crude ‘blood libel’, ‘Protocols-of-the=Elders-of-Zion’ propaganda of all of them.

All of this makes the alliance of certain sections of the left with Islamist groups as contemptible as it is bizarre. Leftists protesting Israel’s assault on Hizballah in 2006 (following the terror group’s unprovoked kidnap and murder of Israeli soldiers) marched the streets of London proclaiming their allegiance to a Shi’ite Islamist organization, committed to the mass murder of Jews and the creation of a society entirely antithetical to the values supposedly dear to the European left. It would appear that anti-Zionism is too seductive a clarion call, even if it means abandoning the most elementary progressive principles.

Nick Cohen is a British left-wing commentator who, like Hitchens, is part of the anti-totalitarian left rather than the all-too easily perverted “anti-imperialist” left stripped bare the hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy of the left’s alliance with fascism in his excellent What’s Left. He has described how, after the Islamist suicide bombings in London in 2005 that claimed 52 lives, he listened to a BBC radio discussion in which the actions of the terrorists were “justified” by Britain’s involvement in the invasion of Iraq.

How many of these useful idiots (to use Lenin’s term for the western supporters of Soviet communism) will queasily absent themselves from condemnation of Merah’s actions, excusing them as an understandable reaction to the crimes of the State of Israel?


I HAVE a friend in the US who believes his Government is fascist. He is a libertarian and, to be fair, is at least bipartisan in that he believes the Republican candidates (with the exception of the libertarians’ Saint Paul – Ron Paul that is) are also fascists.

This is, of course, nonsense. But it does illustrate that, all too often the word can be robbed of its meaning by hyperbole.

Here in Israel, the f-word has been bandied about with some regularity of late, following the legislation proposed by certain right-wing members of Knesset. Their efforts to restrict the independence of the Supreme Court or freedom of speech are illiberal and out of sync with Israel’s democratic character, but they are not fascist.

However, Jewish fascism – or something perilously close – is preached by those on the far-religious right. Those responsible for the ‘Price Tag’ attacks on Palestinian property, Jewish leftists and even the IDF may be guileless young hoodlums, but they are receiving their indoctrination from somewhere. They are drinking from the same steady stream of toxic bigotry and hatred that convinced Baruch Goldstein it was a “religious act” to slaughter 29 Muslim worshipers in Hebron. They are taught by the same fanatical “Rabbis” who declared that Yitzhak Rabin was a traitor to the Jewish people and a legitimate target for murder according to religious doctrine. Yigal Amir did not reach these conclusions on his own.

Thankfully there are not thousands of Jews flocking to hear the vile Chief Rabbi of Hebron, Dov Lior, or the unapologetically Kahanist MK Michael Ben-Ari. The Jewish far-right are a rabble. Dangerous certainly, an embarrassment to Zionism and Judaism for sure, but not a mass movement like Hamas or Hizballah.

Here in democratic Israel there should be zero tolerance for religious fascism – whether Muslim or Jewish.

Meanwhile in London, my old home-city, the favorite to be elected Mayor in the May election is the Labour Party’s Ken Livingstone. Once lauded as a champion of progressive politics and minority rights, he has since been exposed as one more leftist apologist for Islamist fascism. In his previous term as mayor, he made a point of welcoming, hosting and embracing the Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a leading theologian of the Muslim Brotherhood who he acclaimed as representing “moderate Islam”. This is a relative term in any case, but one wonders to whom Livingstone was comparing Qaradawi, a man whose sermons exhort believers to kill Jews as a response to Zionism and to execute homosexuals for, well, being homosexual.

Enough of the double standard. The victims in Toulouse were victims of fascism. This would have been the case had the initial suspicions been vindicated and the killer been identified as a swastika-tattooed, white supremacist thug. It is the case now we know that the man responsible was a young Muslim, radicalized in Al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan.

Call fascism by its name – and call out the shameful hypocrites who don’t.

About the Author
Before moving to Israel from the UK, Paul worked at the Embassy of Israel to the UK in the Public Affairs department, and as the Ambassador's speechwriter. He has a Masters degree in Middle East Politics from the University of London. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem - though he writes this blog in a personal capacity. He has lectured to a variety of groups on Israeli history and politics and his articles have been published in a variety of media outlets in Israel, the UK, the US and Canada.