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Entebbe and the Dueling Legacies of the New Left

Thirty-five years ago this week, German leftists Wilfried Böse and Brigitte Kuhlmann hijacked Air France Flight 139 along with their comrades Fayez Abdul-Rahim Jaber and Jayel Naji al-Arjam. They demanded the release of Palestinian and Baader-Meinhof terrorists, flew the plane to Entebbe in Uganda, separated the Jews from the non-Jews, and prepared to execute them.

Enough ‘Eurabia’ Talk. Let’s be Optimistic.

I am not a regular reader of Lesbilicous, “the web’s tastiest lesbian magazine,” but I was drawn to this headline: “Poll reveals Muslim support for gay rights.”

Needed: A Leitkultur to Counter Radicalization in Europe

European societies need a leitkultur to defeat radicalization and violent extremism. The Muslim democrat and scholar Bassam Tibi first introduced this idea of a “leading culture” in Europa ohne Identität? in 1998. Multicultural European societies needed some glue if they were not to fragment, he argued. They needed a core culture built on the values of “modernity, democracy, secularism, the Enlightenment, human rights, and civil society.” However, the concept was soon turned into a political football by opportunistic German parties playing to their bases. Tibi declared the debate a failure and retreated.

For three reasons, we Europeans, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, should try again.

The British Muslim Voices We Need to Hear

Here is a fact that might surprise you. In 2009 a Gallup poll found 77 percent of British Muslims identified “very strongly” or “extremely strongly” with Britain, a higher percentage than the British public as a whole (at 50 percent).

Here is another. In 2010 a group of British Muslim women in partnership with the Armed Forces Muslim Association (AFMA) attended a memorial event. They were responding to a miniscule group of Islamists that had, by disrupting the now-traditional parade of soldier’s coffins through the town of Wootton Bassett, dominated the national news.

As Kalsoom Bashir put it, “Other organizations—that represent nobody—have tried to hijack the message from UK Muslim communities. We are here to claim it back.” She added, “There was a strong feeling of disgust in the Muslim communities that anyone would try to exploit the grief of families at Wootton Bassett.”

How Soft Terror Works In Europe

Let us talk of the glorious Piazza del Duomo in Milan.

Across Milan’s public square the citizens of the Italian republic meet, drink, eat, love, argue, shop, and pray. Look up and the eye sees the Gothic Milan cathedral, five centuries in the making, topped by the polychrome Madonnina statue designed by Giuseppe Perego. Look down and, this being Italy, all is la bella vita.

As part of Israel Week, the Piazza was to provide the setting for 15 towers of Israeli culture, technology, agriculture, economics, and art “to present the unfamiliar Israel.”

Not any more.

Bin Laden, Just War Thinking, and the European Mind

The European reaction to the death of Osama bin Laden prompts a question: Why do so many of us refuse to take our own side in a fight? Why was it that, as Douglas Murray acidly observed, “when the worst enemy of the West was dead, Europeans failed to display any emotion above a truculent annoyance at the manner of his passing”?

One reason for our (historically unprecedented) failure to stand shoulder to shoulder with ourselves is that we do not believe we are engaged in a war (the 9/10 syndrome). Another is that we do not believe the action we take to defend ourselves is just. For the academic-media complex in the West, the very idea of a just war against terror is a logical contradiction.

WikiLeaks and the Legacy of ‘Londonistan’

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but then appeasement usually does. When jihadis and extremist preachers drifted into the United Kingdom from the early 1980s, our security forces and politicians decided to give them a safe haven. We struck a squalid little deal, dignifying it with the fancy title “covenant of security”: you don’t bomb us, and we won’t disrupt your activity.

And so Abu Hamza, Omar Bakri Mohammed, Abu Qatada (a.k.a. OBL’s ambassador to Europe), and the rest got to work, radicalizing many British Muslims and turning the UK into the global hub for radical ideology and foreign terrorist activity. In 2008, Richard Watson, a journalist with vast experience in researching Islamist extremism in the UK, summed up the consequences. “For more than 20 years, the Government and security services have stood back while extremist preachers twisted generations of recruits.”

The Mind of the Pro-Tyrant Left

“The US war effort is failing to create an effective puppet regime in Afghanistan. The Taliban is slowly but surely eroding US influence. In the face of major strategic losses, as evident in the astonishing assassination of top military officials, Obama had to mount a political spectacle—a ‘military success story’—the killing of unarmed bin Laden, to buoy the spirits of the American public, military and its NATO followers.”

— James Petras

Defining Extremism Down in Europe

Let me tell you how we roll in Europe.

Let us begin with Sheik Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel. He has a crazy article up on the website of the London-based, anti-Abbas, pro-Hamas Middle East Monitor (MEMO) alleging that “Israel has never negotiated with the Palestinians” and is engaged today in their “ethnic cleansing.” It gets worse. The good Sheikh likes to talk of what Jews do with the blood of little Gentile children. Haaretz reported in January 2008:

David Miliband and Exit-Strategy Fetishism

There is a contradiction at the heart of the NATO strategy in Afghanistan: calendar vs. conditions. Jennifer Rubin has put the matter bluntly: “You can’t promise to be both attuned to facts on the ground and begin bugging out.” Well, former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband tried to do just that last week in a speech at MIT and an op-ed in the New York Times.

The Iron Dome and the Flotilla

I spent last week in Israel and the West Bank talking to actors from both sides of the conflict. On the final day I visited the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University for a round table. As a friend of Israel and a supporter of a negotiated two-state solution, I was in a gloomy mood and I tried to explain why:

Israel is about to deploy the Iron Dome [a missile shield]. The Palestinians are about to deploy another flotilla. Each seems to symbolize something important. The Dome is defensive, reactive, militarised, high-tech, and most likely ruinously expensive. The flotilla is dynamic, offensive, civil, politicised, cheap, and media-friendly. It leverages global network power. The Israeli “Dome-approach” is tactical and local while the Palestinians’ “Flotilla-approach” is strategic and global.

Germany Calls Time On Forced Marriages

Underlining a new mood spreading across Europe, the German Parliament passed a law on March 3rd to make forced marriage a criminal offence carrying a five year prison sentence. The law also granted to non-German citizens who have been taken abroad against their will a legal right to return to Germany.

This is an example of a European government doing its job — creating and policing the non-negotiable framework within which other actors can get on with religious reform and cultural innovation and establish what the academic Bassam Tibi calls a “civil Islam” capable of accommodating cultural modernity.

‘Morosité’ and Marine Le Pen

Shock waves went through French politics last week when a poll in Le Parisien put the far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen on 23 percent of the vote, ahead of President Sarkozy and the Socialist Party’s Martine Aubry, who each have 21 percent.

What’s wrong with France? Part of the answer is surely the inexorable rise of morosité.

Morosité is one of those gloriously capacious French words. It means a collective and quite spectacular sullenness and gloominess about a world that has irrevocably lost its lustre. Morosité can turn to inchoate anger and it is on the rise all over Europe. Marine Le Pen hopes to ride it to power.

The Idea of ‘Islamophobia’

“Ideas,” wrote the German sociologist Max Weber, have often, “like switchmen, determined the tracks along which action has been pushed by the dynamic of interest.” In the governments of Europe, the idea of “Islamophobia” is the “track” along which much thinking about extremism runs.

In 1997 the Runnymede Trust set up the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia, chaired by Professor Gordon Conway, the vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex. Its highly influential report, Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, launched by Home Secretary Jack Straw, established a new orthodoxy: that “Islamophobia,” defined as a “dread or hatred of Islam and therefore ... the fear and dislike of all Muslims,” was widespread.

Yet today, many commentators agree with the French writer Pascal Bruckner that “Islamophobia” is a word we Europeans should “delete from our vocabulary.” What explains this turnaround?

To Belong is to Believe: David Cameron Calls Time on State Multiculturalism

On February 5th, in a major speech in Munich, British Prime Minister David Cameron called time on state multiculturalism:

A passively tolerant society says to its citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will just leave you alone. It stands neutral between different values. But I believe a genuinely liberal country does much more. It believes in certain values and actively promotes them. Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality. It says to its citizens: this is what defines us as a society. To belong here is to believe in these things.

To belong is to believe. This idea contradicts the complacent Euro-orthodoxy summed up by the mayor of Gothenburg, Göran Johansson, in 2005: “I don’t care if you respect our culture. You just have to obey the law.”

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