Few authors in the last decades have stirred a heated debate like Bat Ye’or. To her work we owe the entrance into the market of ideas of terms such as “dhimmitude” and “Eurabia”, both essential to understand the political nature of Islam, its treatment of non-Muslim minorities and the political-economic axis built in the Seventies between Europe and the Arab world. It is due to this scheme which developed in phases and culminated with the oil crisis of 1973, that Europe sold out Israel to Arab interests. With clear precision, indicating one after the other episodes, irrefutable documents and public declarations, Bat Ye’or has showed how postwar and post Holocaust Europe, progressively made anti-Semitism still practicable in the guise of philo-Phalestinism.
L’informale has met her recently during her journey to Italy where she was a guest at a conference in Turin.
In your seminal book Eurabia you have explained how Europe in the Seventies, headed by France, has pursued a specific pro Arab policy explicitly against the interests of Israel. To what extent according to you has antisemitism played a role in all of this?
It is difficult to determine the role of antisemitism among actors in many countries making decisions in a variety of areas. Especially since in post-war Europe it was practically impossible to express anti-Semitic opinions. However, it can be noted that notorious anti-Semites have remained in key positions. Thus, despite the post-war purges, even in the 1960s and 1970s, an influential network of officials, intellectuals and executives who had supported or collaborated with the Nazi and fascist regimes remained in the high positions of the State. For example, Walter Hallstein, who was the first president of the European Commission from 1958 to 1967, was a convinced Nazi, a university lawyer and an SS officer. He had advocated a united Europe under Nazism where the application of the racial laws of Nuremberg would have eliminated all Jewish life – a Nazi Europe economically united with the Arab world. Hans Globke, co-author of the Nuremberg Laws, was advisor to Chancellor Adenauer and his eminence grise. This situation existed throughout Western Europe. These circles promoted a European alliance with the Arab countries where Nazi criminals had taken refuge. Converted to Islam, they held important positions in Syria and Egypt in the war against Israel. Let us not forget that since the 1930s a strong ideological and political alliance based on a common anti-Semitism united Fascism and Nazism with the Arab-Muslim peoples. This active anti-Israeli but discreet Euro-Arab core gained importance after 1967 thanks to the pro-Arab French policy. From that moment, under the patronage of the Quai d’Orsay, a speech worthy of Goebbels emerges with regard to the State of Israel. Despite these networks, however, European public opinion and the governments of that time – except France – were not anti-Semitic. It was the Arab League which imposed after the Yom Kippur War of October 1973 on the European Community an anti-Semitic political strategy anticipating the eradication of the State of Israel, as it is possible to see at the Conference of Arab Heads of State in Algiers which took place from the 26th to the 29th of November 1973. For this purpose it used the oil weapon by prohibiting its sale to all countries friends of Israel. The oil embargo would be canceled only under the following conditions: first, the recognition of a previously unknown Palestinian people and of Yasser Arafat as its only representative, second, the Islamization of Jerusalem and third, Israel’s retreat on the armistice lines of 1949. Abba Eban, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, called these lines “the Auschwitz borders”, that is to say those of the Final Solution because they placed Israel in a mortal danger. France was not struck by the embargo. In 1969 it had opened a PLO office in Paris after having adopted in 1967 an anti-Israeli policy. According to Arab analyst Saleh A. Mani, a convergent Euro-Arab policy vis-à-vis Israel was conceived by France with Muammar Gaddafi before the 1973 war. In two declarations in November and December 1973, to the astonishment of the U.S.A, the Nine subjugated to the demands of the Arab League. These decisions mark the beginning of a European alliance policy with the PLO whose goal, known to all, was to destroy Israel. European support for the Arab war against Israel has led to a movement of de-legitimization and defamation of the Jewish state imposed by the European states on their populations on the political, social and cultural level and aiming to replace Israel with Palestine. The anti-Semites engaged in this movement, now legal and promoted by the States.
The recent Unesco resolutions of 2016 and 2017 have symbolically expropriated Israel in Jerusalem of the Western Wall and the Temple Mount and in Hebron of the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Isn’t this part of one precise strategy, the effacement of Jewish memory from Palestine in order to replace it entirely with Islamic history?
Exactly, that’s precisely the goal. This strategy was already implicit in the decisions of the European Community in 1973 when it demanded the retreat of Israel on the lines of 1949 and the Islamization of Jerusalem. Bear in mind that the war of 1948-49 was triggered by Arab countries and Arabs in Palestine assisted by Muslim soldiers of the fascist and Nazi armies of the Second World War. During this war the Arab countries took East Jerusalem and territories in Judea and Samaria, which they colonized and Islamized by throwing out the Jewish inhabitants. Europe did not protest against the Arab acquisition of territories by war and for the expulsion of their Jewish inhabitants. From 1949 to 1967, no Palestinian people appeared in these territories to reclaim their state. The anti-Israeli policy of the European Community decided in 1973 was reaffirmed by the EC at its meeting with the PLO in its Venice Declaration of June 1980. By this step, the EC wanted to restore fruitful economic relations with the Arab countries which had broken after the separate Israeli-Egyptian peace that the European countries could not prevent. The denial of the historical rights of Israelis in their country and the erasure of their religious and cultural memory confirms the Islamic version and interpretations of biblical history. The Qur’an states that all Hebrew biblical characters, including Jesus, were Muslims. Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, helped by European historians, have continued to appropriate the history of the Jewish people. The suppression by Europe of the history and memory of the people of Israel also erases that of Christianity, its identity and its legitimacy because Christianity is rooted in Judaism. And if Judaism is an aberration or the falsification of Islam, so is Christianity. European states – which in principle are Christian – agree to Islamize the sources of their theology and religious identity, out of hatred for Israel.
In the last years we have seen more and more the development of a narrative whose core is that Islam has strongly contributed to the coming about of Europe. At the same time in the introduction of the European Constitution there is no mention to the Jewish-Christian roots of Europe. The actual pope never loses a chance to say that Islam is a religion of peace and that if there are violent Muslims there are also violent Christians. What do you make of all of this?
This narrative about the predominant Islamic influence on European science comes from two sources: one Arab and the other European, both political. Experts have shown that it has no historical base because the roots of the current European civilization are Judeo-Christianity, Greece, Rome and the Enlightenment. The Arab-Muslim source is a response, from the years 1920-30, to the confrontation of Muslim countries with the modern progress of European civilization. This superiority of the world of disbelief is humiliating and unacceptable for Islam, which by this cultural claim attributes all its merits to itself. This being said, it is clear that there were loans here and there, as there were from Hindus and Chinese. They are normal reciprocal exchanges between peoples and civilizations but they are not fundamental elements. It is true that the civilizations of antiquity in the East influenced those later in Europe. But these pagan civilizations, three thousand years before our era, owe nothing to Islam, which came much later, nor to Arabia, geographically isolated by its deserts. This statement is also a way for Muslim immigrants to assert an ancient cultural and scientific presence of Islam in Europe and to claim political and religious rights in countries where they emigrate. The European source comes from the Mediterranean policy whose aim is to unite the two shores of the Mediterranean by strategic and cultural integration. It adopts the flattering language of the courtier toward Arab potentates and always tries to appease Muslim sensibilities in particular by a specious historical similarity of Islam and Judaism. This source does not recognize Judeo-Christianity because Muslims are offended. To ease the integration of millions of Muslim immigrants, Europe is giving up its roots. In 2000 the French deputy Jean-Louis Bianco discussed the topics on this subject in the Drafting Committee of the European Charter. The French government negotiator, Guy Braibant, having asked “what conclusions could the millions of European Muslims draw” if the charter referred to Christian values, the case was closed. The pope is right in saying that violence exists everywhere. But we are not talking about individual violence, we are talking about a religious political system advocating war and accepting only temporary truces with non-Muslims. To my knowledge Jihad, religious war of planetary conquest, exists only in Islam. Without wishing to minimize the periods of Islamic tolerance or the attempts of some monarchs to modernize Islamic conceptions, one must recognize that jihadist ideology justifies terror, fanaticism, war and genocide. If we want to create a more fraternal humanity, we must openly discuss the aims and laws of jihad. We will help progressive Muslims who courageously fight this struggle.
In its charter of 1989 Hamas explicitly states that all of Palestine is a perennial Islamic waqf. This is very consistent with the Islamic idea that once a land is conquered by Islam it belongs to it forever. What is your opinion about this?
The opinion of Hamas is in accordance with the laws of the Islamic war of conquest. Any non-Muslim country conquered by Islam becomes a waqf, an endowment for all Muslims. It is not only the lands conquered from the disbelieving peoples that constitute a waqf but the entire planet which is destined by Allah to become a waqf managed by the caliph for the Muslims. It is this belief which determines the obligation of universal conquest which is incumbent on every Muslim, possibly by war. A fortiori, none of the countries that were already Islamized can return to their former owners. This argument applies not only to Israel but to all the countries of Europe, Asia and Africa which, conquered and Islamized by jihad, became a waqf. The concept of waqf appeared for the first time in Islam during the Arab conquest of Mesopotamia, Sawad, around 636 in a discussion between the Caliph Omar ibn al-Khattab and his military commanders, about lands and conquered peoples . The idea of a waqf managed by the caliph for all Muslims was proposed by Ali, the future caliph. The establishment of the waqf in land law over all the countries removed from the disbelieving peoples has prohibited, with few exceptions, land division and private property, which explains the lack of property rights of the villagers in Ottoman Palestine and the Mandate. But Hamas’s opinion contains a contradiction. If Palestine is a waqf land then Palestinians have never owned land parcels demarcated according to a land register. If they owned plots then Palestine is no longer a waqf land. Hamas is theoretically right in terms of the right of Islamic conquest until the British mandate that abolished this right in 1917 in Palestine. Today, the West faced with a global jihad, must question the moral basis of jihad and if its laws of Islamization of land conquered from other peoples, may be universally applicable even in Europe. In 1973 Europe imposed them to Israel by calling Judea-Samaria occupied Arab lands after the expulsion of all Jews. Its recent decrees on the signaling of products from these territories indicate that Europe adopts the laws of jihad and sharia regarding Israel.
The vilification of Israel has gone on for fifty years now. The unexpected and stunning Israeli victory in the Sixth Day War has never been forgiven by the Arabs and the Muslim world. To what extent has Europe contributed to this vilification, and why?
The Muslim world had not accepted Israel since 1948 and before. It was to destroy Israel that the Egyptian-Syrian and Transjordan coalition attacked it in 1967. Palestinian terrorism and the boycott of oil forced Europe to submit to Arab conditions. In 1973 the support for the PLO became an indispensable structural element of the Euro-Arab Mediterranean policy. Anti-Semitism, defamation, incitement to hatred and delegitimization of Israel became a source of profits for Europe and formed an immovable base that conditioned its economic, industrial, commercial and cultural exchanges with the Arab world. The European decision to support the PLO in order to build a strategy of union with the Arab-Muslim world of the Mediterranean – Eurabia – has requested the conditioning of the European public opinion, by universities, media and culture, in the name of a policy that morally justified the eradication of the Jewish state. The Arab world claims from Europe the creation of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital. Israel’s resistance to its suicide demanded by the European Union exacerbates tensions. Europe is paying billions to Palestinians, UNRWA and NGOs spreading hatred of Israel on a global scale, so it has contributed greatly to anti-Semitism. The motives for this campaign are only oil, economic profits, and a virulent anti-Semitism of European stock disguised as humanitarian policy.
Israel is the only Western country in the Middle East. Today, in the company of those Arabs and Muslims who loathe it, we find radical leftists , third world lovers, and of course extremists from the right. The common denominator of this hatred is not only Israel but the West of which Israel is a symbol. Do you agree?
Geographically Israel is not a Western country. It is a democracy, a legal Hebrew state that shares fundamental values with the West because of their biblical and common secular heritage. Remember that all churches have a Bible and that without Judaism, Christianity would not exist. In the secular field, the contribution of the Jewish diaspora to Western civilization in terms of law, culture, science and social solidarity is an additional common element. In Islam, the hatred of the Jew and the Christian are inseparable. From the beginning, the Arab-Islamic and Turkish world tried to destroy and Islamize the Christian kingdoms. This jihadist war that Europe does not want to recognize, led today by the pen, the corruption of the elites, terrorism and the destruction of its identity, has lasted for thirteen centuries. If we had opened a debate on these realities, we could have emptied the abscess and encouraged the emergence of an Islam freed from the fanaticism of the past. Many Muslims claimed it because not all are jihadists. The leftists and the third-worldists, survivors of totalitarian ideologies, join by interest the Arab and Moslem movements hostile to the West and to Israel.
While Israel is considered by a consistent minority of the Western world as a rogue state and antisemitism is often justified by declaring it is the effect of Israel’s policy towards Palestinian Arabs (which is another way to say that the victims deserve what they get), Islam is the only religion in the West which benefits of a sort of ironclad protection against criticism. What are the main reasons of this attitude?
Western states are perfectly aware of the dangers of criticizing Islamic laws. The concept of an uncreated Quran, that is to say a text consubstantial with the divine eternity, prohibits under the accusation of blasphemy any criticism of the laws rooted in it. The ban on criticizing Islam in the West aims to spare the susceptibility of immigrant populations who are not accustomed to the political freedoms and expression of our democracies. This prohibition do not prevents violent criminal reactions such as the assassination of Theo Van Gogh in Holland, among others, and the retaliation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation which brings together 56 Muslim countries. The OIC demands from European states that hasten to obey them, severe measures punishing Europeans guilty of “Islamophobia”. I describe this situation in “Europe, Globalisation and the Coming Universal Caliphate”. It is true that the criticism of Islam poses a problem: it undermines Europe’s Euro-Arab merging policy and provokes conflicts between Europeans and tens of millions of Muslim immigrants. States are obliged to enforce the public peace between different religions and populations. Prisoner of this dilemma, the EU, encouraged by the OIC, reinforces against its populations its repressive arsenal punishing “Islamophobia”, thus violating the freedom of expression and opinion.
Europe is old and Israel is young. In Europe the birth rate has gone dramatically down in the last decades while in Israel it has been steadily rising. In Italy, just to take an example, the birth rate is 1,3, while in France is 2,0. In Israel it is 3,11. Israel, a country surrounded by enemies who wants its destruction, is projected toward the future, while Europe, which is in a much more favorable situation, seems not to believe any longer in the future. How do you explain this paradox?
There are several reasons for this European decline. Governments have not sufficiently encouraged a family-friendly policy that would free the mother from the combination of domestic and external work. But it is above all the hedonistic and enjoyable nature of our societies, a deliberate suppression of values, an education that generalizes skepticism, that incites young people to refuse the obligations, duties and sacrifices related to commitments and procreation. But we must not exaggerate, our European societies harbor treasures of generosity and solidarity. Israel represents a united people despite its scattering in different countries and who could survive everywhere thanks to the solidarity of its members. After the destruction of Judea by the Romans in 135, Jewish communities in exile gave themselves rules to survive among hostile populations. I cannot explain the strength of Israel’s hope, perhaps it comes from the existential problems required by these exceptional people who live in the permanence of the dialogue with God.
Regarding the violence in Islam, one of the main scholarly distinction made is that between Islam and Islamism. In this view Islamism is just Islam gone astray. What is your opinion?
This statement is part of the misleading speech of Europe, which has been in denial since its 1973 agreements. The Muslims themselves refute it. The Islamic violence that we see today, which is terrorizing many Muslims and Islamic states, has recurrently manifested itself in history because it conforms to Islamic law. The evolution of Muslim ideas and societies in the twentieth century attenuated or suppressed the most rigorous commandments. Today many intellectuals, and political leaders like Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and even Saudi Arabia are demanding religious authorities an updating. The EU and Barak Obama’s government have not accompanied or supported this revolutionary and courageous movement that could totally change international relations and bring peace, security and economic development to these countries. Obama and the EU collaborated on the so-badly appointed Arab Spring and the rise of radical movements.