So now ‘radical Islamist’ terror has spread to Paris, the centre of culture, civilization and enlightenment. Last January Paris was subjected to a similar heinous attack, but that was confined to targets that could be – and were – dismissed or defined as ‘appropriate,’ i.e., the offices of a satirical magazine that had lampooned Muhammed, and a kosher Jewish supermarket.
Of course, if Jews are the object of Muslim opprobrium, that is understandable. Palestine and all that. Of course, that’s also why Sunni and Shia Muslims are killing one another.
But enjoying the pleasures of modern life – eating, drinking, listening to music – what can possibly be wrong with that? If you subscribe to a certain version of the Muslim religion, and I’m being very careful to define it as such and not to tar all the adherents of that religion with the same brush, the answer is – a lot.
Equality of women, for a start. How can you tell whether a man is Muslim or not? By looking at his womenfolk. They are the ones who display the outward signs of their religion – at the very least it consists of a carefully-arranged headscarf, followed by the all-encompassing hijabs and burqas. Muslim men, on the other hand, dress just like their modern Western counterparts, with short-sleeved shirts and any casual wear that takes their fancy. Many more, and more severe, restrictions are imposed on women, ranging from general suppression to ‘honour killing,’ but you get the general idea.
While reaping the benefit of life in the West, those people abhor the free and easy lifestyle of its native population, with its liberal values and mores that can be defined as hedonistic. And what’s wrong with hedonism, as long as you’re not inflicting harm on anyone else? Some might even go so far as to say that we’ve been put on earth in order to enjoy ourselves, which is as good a definition of hedonism as any. But that, of course, is anathema to orthodox Islam.
Here in Israel the reaction of the population to what happened in Paris is confused and confusing. There are those who are consumed by satisfaction, shadenfreude,’ even a sense of divine retribution, noting that the plague that has afflicted this country on and off ever since its inception has extended its tentacles to other, supposedly ‘untouched’ parts of the world. But many Israelis, myself included, mourned for those caught up in the tragedy in Paris, shedding tears for the young lives lost so suddenly to blind and senseless hatred.
In a televised interview with Fox News, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Dutch-American author and political activist, declared that it was time the world learned from Israel about maintaining security and dealing with terrorists. In the light of recent terrorist ‘successes’ in Israel that statement seems slightly problematic, but at least mass terror attacks of the kind recently seen in Paris no longer occur here.
One thing is clear, the Europe that we once knew, with its open borders and freedom of movement, will have to change in order to survive. Israel has long pursued a policy that involves strict control of those who may and may not enter the country, with a powerful security presence, whether seen or unseen, and it seems that the countries of Europe will henceforth have to adopt a similar approach. Only the paranoid survive, as Andy Grove of Intel declared in a different context.
Welcome to the world of the paranoid, Europe!
(This article first appeared in the January 2016 edition of the AJR Journal)