Reflections on the Murders in Paris
Here is the second part of the problem. Arab and Muslim societies may be failures and basket cases, but they retain an exceptionally strong and vivid sense of themselves. It is the irony of history that this sense of self is precisely of a type that is bound to keep their societies mired in failure. But history favors irony, and this sense nevertheless remains powerfully experienced and hence politically potent. In this respect, the modern Islamic world resembles western Europe of 80 or 90 years ago, but not the contemporary continent.
In contemporary western European societies, political Islam meets a human collectivity suffering, by contrast, from a profound loss of self. No one, at least in the mainstream of politics and culture, seems able to quite articulate what western European countries are for, or what they oppose -- at least beyond a sort of vapid belief in everyone doing what they want and not bothering each other.
The result is that when violent political Islam collides with the satiated, lost societies of western Europe, the response is not defiance on the part of the latter, but rather fear.
This fear, as fear is wont to do, manifests itself in various, not particularly edifying, ways.
The most obvious is avoidance ("the attacks had nothing to do with Islam," "unemployment and poverty are the root cause," "the Islamic State is neither Islamic nor a state," etc etc).
Another is appeasement -- "maybe if we give them some of what they want, they’ll leave us alone."
This response perhaps partially explains the notable adoption in parts of western Europe of the anti-Jewish prejudice so prevalent in the Islamic world.
The ennui of the western European mainstream will almost certainly prevent the adoption of the very tough measures which alone might serve to adequately address the burgeoning problem of large numbers of young European Muslims committed to political Islam and to violence against their host societies.
Such measures -- which would include tighter surveillance and policing of communities, quick deportations of incendiary preachers, revocation of citizenship for those engaged in violence, possible imprisonment of suspects and so on -- would require a political will which is manifestly absent. So it wont happen. So the events of Paris will almost certainly recur.
And lastly, since the elites will not be able to produce resistance, it will come from outside of the elites. Hence the growth of populist, nationalist parties and movements in western Europe. But Europe being what it is, such revivalist movements are likely to contain a hefty dose of the xenophobia and bigotry which characterized the continent of old.
None of this can, at present, be discussed in polite European society. But all of it is fairly obvious. For this reason, Europe’s Jews are at present warily eying the door. As someone who was born in western Europe, and left it 25 years ago for Israel, I am happy to conclude that as a result of the efforts and sacrifice of many, Europe’s Jews are this time around neither defenseless nor alone. Nor will their blood be free to be taken with impunity.