Thane Rosenbaum

We are all Israelis now

Faced with the threat of radical Islam, France must also start taking occasional liberties with its liberté

Europe now finally has its very own 9/11. To be sure, Friday’s multiple attacks in Paris, killing nearly 150 people and severely wounding another 200, was not Europe’s first brush with the barbarism of radical Islam. There was the train explosion in Madrid, the Tube bombing in London, the machine gunfire on a free speech event and a local synagogue in Copenhagen, the murders at the Jewish Museum in Belgium, the Jewish day school in Toulouse and, of course, at the offices of Charlie Hebdo and the kosher market in Paris.

Still in shock, the French may awaken to a very different reality in an agonizing fight to preserve their once cherished way of life. No longer are the victims limited to audacious cartoonists and innocent Jews. Parisians now know that it may be deadly to attend a soccer match, a rock concert, or even to dine in a restaurant. When French restaurants are off limits, terrorism is on the brink of victory.

Welcome to Israel, western world. Now get ready to implement some serious post-9/11 strategies for your national survival.

For anyone keeping score, this was inevitable. After all, a caliphate has but one purpose: to spread. Murderous rhetoric was casually dismissed as idle trash talk. When world leaders speak openly of wiping other countries from the map, or when a bloodthirsty wannabe state boasts that its flag will be flown outside the White House, it’s time to dispense with all that jazz-jive about JV teams.

Earth to Europe, start facing the new reality of your continent: Hundreds of people were murdered and maimed in France simply because they aren’t Muslims, because they believe in personal freedom and religious tolerance, because they want to live in a world where homosexuals possess human rights, where journalists can report on the world with their heads securely attached to their necks and where women who may wish to divorce their husbands, learn to read, or drive a car, won’t lose a limb or be stoned to death.

Those are the crimes ISIS believed its European victims had committed. It’s the lunacy they live by. It’s also the reason why, judging from its relative silence, so many Muslims tacitly accept the cult of death that has engulfed the Islamic world. Far too many believe that apostates and those who mock Muhammad deserve to die. And yet not nearly enough westerners have come to realize that a caliphate blanketing the world is the end of civilization as we know it.

If reform doesn’t come to Islam soon, this “religion of peace” is going to be known for one thing only: blowing innocent people to pieces. These killings in France took place just days after the 77th-anniversary of Kristallnacht. The events of this past November 12th, however, may one day come to be remembered as the Night of the Broken Continent.

Europeans are now getting more than just a glimpse of what it means to be an Israeli in the Middle East. The Muslims of Europe have shown little interest in being good neighbors or grateful citizens. Some are hoping for regime change, a continental sweeping away of democracies to be replaced by one vast theocracy, the rule of law forsaken in favor of Sharia and its corrosive effect on human freedom and dignity.

Hundreds of millions of Muslims believe in an Islam that is fundamentally incompatible with liberal ideals and values. The sooner the western world internalizes this truth — speaking of it openly and honestly — the sooner it can save its democratic societies and protect its terrorized citizens.

France, which has the largest Muslim population in Europe, will painfully have to undertake the most drastic changes. The nation that has long extolled its liberté may have to explore democracy, Israeli-style, with a security fence barricading “no-go zones,’ or adopt the intrusive CCTV cameras of Britain, or even employ the concessions on civil liberties — warrantless surveillances and Patriot Act protections — that were made in America.

One storyline back in January after the kosher market tragedy was the number of French Jews who were likely to abandon Europe and decamp to Israel — not only because France was becoming unsafe for Jews, but because Israeli society was the most experienced in the world in dealing with the scourge of Islamic extremism. Israel was the canary in the coal mine of radical Islam, a nation fighting to retain its democratic ideals while also taking occasional liberties with its liberty. Now the French, no less prideful of its culture and its contribution to European society, will be wrestling with these very same set of contradictions.

France will have to undertake its own soul searching. If it chooses not to, it won’t be simply the Jews of France looking to make aliyah to Israel. All of Europe may decide that the Negev looks better than the dimming streets in the City of Lights.

About the Author
Thane Rosenbaum is a novelist, essayist and Distinguished Fellow at NYU School of Law where he directs the Forum on Law, Culture & Society (FOLCS). He is the author, most recently, of the novel, "How Sweet It Is!" His forthcoming nonfiction book is titled, "The High Cost of Free Speech: Rethinking the First Amendment."
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