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Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower with other military and civilian officials gathered in the rubble of Warsaw, 1946PHOTO: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
This year marks the 50th anniversary of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s death. Recent years have seen a renewed scholarly interest in Eisenhower, particularly as the increasingly bitter partisanship of modern politics helps foster nostalgia for his more collegial style of leadership.
For many Jews, however, Eisenhower’s presidential legacy is marred by his appointment of the anti-Semitic John Foster Dulles as secretary of State, and his administration’s subsequent skepticism toward Zionism and sometimes tenuous relationship with the young state of Israel. Indeed, as Michael Doran argues in his excellent history of Eisenhower’s foreign policy in the Middle East, Ike’s Gamble, the president saw Israel as a liability and decisively sided with Egyptian strongman Gamel Abdel Nasser against Israel, Britain, and France during the 1956 Suez Crisis. Today, Eisenhower’s failed attempt to be a neutral broker in the Middle East is portrayed by some as a role model for a U.S. foreign policy toward the region not “beholden” to “Israeli interests.”
Yet it would be a mistake to define Eisenhower’s relationship with the Jews strictly by his Administration’s failed realpolitik. As commander in chief of the Allied Forces in Europe, Eisenhower was the primary driver behind the memorialization of the Holocaust; he ordered extraordinary measures to ensure the well-being of Jewish displaced persons during the occupation of Germany; and, following David Ben-Gurion’s recommendation, he established a “temporary haven” in the American Zone of Occupation for persecuted Jews from Eastern and Central Europe—a policy that both the Soviets and the British strongly opposed.
There was little about Eisenhower’s upbringing or his professional milieu that suggested he would develop any special empathy for the Jewish people. Although he was born in Denison, Texas, in 1890, two years later Eisenhower’s family returned to Abilene, Kansas, where he and his five brothers (a sixth died in infancy) were raised. The closest Jewish congregation to Abilene appears to have been in Topeka, 90 miles away. Consequently, Eisenhower had virtually no firsthand knowledge of Jews or Judaism. He once told Abba Eban that as a boy he did not think there were any Jews on earth, that they were “all in heaven as angels.”
Although the Eisenhowers steeped their sons in Bible studies, they did so in a somewhat esoteric fashion. Disconsolate after the death of Ike’s infant brother Paul in 1895, David and Ida Eisenhower left the Mennonite River Brethren Church and became devoted Jehovah’s Witnesses, then known as the Bible Students or the Watchtower Society. Local adherents of this faith met at the Eisenhowers’ home every Sunday and taught that all other churches were not pleasing to God. The second president of the Watchtower Society taught that all priests and ministers are of Satan and were leading their flocks to eternal damnation.
Yet in his memoirs, Eisenhower noted that despite her own staunch convictions, his mother “refused to try to push her beliefs on us just as she refused to modify her own.” Despite their upbringing, the Eisenhower brothers eventually abandoned most of their parents’ beliefs. Milton became a college administrator despite the religion’s condemnation of higher education; Earl served as a state legislator contrary to the group’s prohibition against working in civil government. Dwight Eisenhower strayed the furthest, becoming a military officer despite the sect’s strict pacifism. Younger brother Milton, then president of Penn State, wrote to Ike in 1942:
I was at a cocktail party … in Washington given by one of those real old dowagers. She said very nicely to me, “You must come from a very nice family, young man. You have an important job here, and your brother is leading our troops abroad and I understand another brother is a banker. What a pity it is that you are Jewish.” I looked at her, sighed unhappily, and said, “Ah, Madame, what a pity it is that we are not.”
Conversely, their older brother Edgar, a successful banker, suspected Franklin Delano Roosevelt might be a Jew but was definitely a communist.
Eisenhower’s later empathy for European Jews was also surprising given the Army’s culture in the two decades prior to WWII, which was rife with institutional anti-Semitism. As historian Joseph Bendersky notes in The ‘Jewish Threat,’ the Army’s foreign intelligence liaison department was dominated by officers who eagerly spread the calumny of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Books by prominent white supremacists such as Lothrop Stoddard were mandatory reading at West Point and the Army War College. “You have to face the fact that some of our most important American newspapers are Jewish-controlled,” Harvard historian William L. Langer declared in a 1939 War College lecture. The New York Times, in particular, gave “a great deal of prominence” to “every little upset that occurs in Germany. … So that in a rather subtle way, the picture you get is that there is no good in the Germans whatever.”
Although Eisenhower never uttered such sentiments, he was certainly exposed to these prejudices, and worse. In November 1929, Eisenhower was assigned to the assistant secretary of war’s office as executive assistant to Maj. Gen. George Van Horn Moseley, the assistant secretary’s principal military adviser, under whom he served directly from 1929-1931. Moseley, one of the country’s most decorated soldiers, called Eisenhower “my brainy assistant” and recorded his appreciation in his subordinate’s efficiency reports. He later wrote to Eisenhower: “You possess one of those exceptional minds which enables you to assemble and to analyze a set of facts, always drawing sound conclusions and, equally important, you have the ability to express those conclusions in clear and convincing form. Many officers can take the first two steps of a problem, but few have your ability of expression.”
Yet even in an organization notorious for its social conservatism, Moseley was exceptional in his racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism. After serving as the Army’s deputy chief of staff and a corps area commander, Moseley retired in 1938 and became a bitter critic of FDR and the New Deal. He saw the possibility of war with Germany as a conspiracy launched by the great investment banks, which in his view were controlled by Jews. In an unpublished memoir, he wrote: “If we are to re-establish our Christian Republic as it was founded, we must defeat the Jewish plan in their effort to kill off their Gentile competitors.” Moseley ultimately came to believe that the Jews of Europe “were receiving their just punishment for the crucifixion of Christ.”
Eisenhower was aware of Moseley’s bigotry, noting in a September 1940 letter to Mark Clark that “in spite of his retired activities [Moseley] was a shrewd judge of officers.” Although Ike disapproved of Moseley’s extremism, he nevertheless maintained a correspondence, writing Moseley in August 1941: “You cannot know how much I appreciate the good wishes you send me—and I constantly recall my association with you as a very wonderful personal opportunity, and your good opinion means a lot to me.”
Yet despite these potentially pernicious influences, from 1938-1945 Eisenhower showed a remarkable personal empathy toward the plight of European Jewry. While serving in the Philippines with Gen. Douglas MacArthur in a failed attempt to build a Philippine army from scratch, Eisenhower played in a regular poker game that included Philippine President Manuel Quezon, and Alex and Phillip Frieder, two American Jewish brothers who owned a cigar factory in Manila. Manila was home to a large Jewish community, as the Philippine government permitted 1,300 European Jews with the required skills as teachers, professors, doctors, and lawyers fleeing Hitler’s oppression and unable to emigrate to the United States to enter on a selective basis. Having heard Eisenhower’s vehement arguments with Spanish supporters of Hitler in Manila, the Frieders offered the young colonel a job on behalf of the Jewish Relief Committee of Manila resettling German Jews in Asia. They offered him $60,000 a year—six times his current Army salary, and roughly $2 million in today’s dollars—for a minimum of five years. Although Eisenhower sympathized with the refugees’ plight, another war clearly loomed on the horizon. As he noted in his memoirs, “I had become so committed to my profession that I declined.” Upon leaving the Philippines in December 1939—mostly to get out from under MacArthur’s increasingly toxic leadership—Eisenhower began the rapid rise that culminated with being appointed commander of the European Theater of Operations in 1942.
Jewish critics of Eisenhower often cite two controversial decisions he made as a general during WWII: the deal he made with Vichy French commander Jean Darlan during Operation Torch that left various anti-Semitic ordinances in place during the Allied occupation of North Africa; and the Allied decision not to bomb the train lines to Auschwitz in July 1944. Although in the case of whether or not to bomb the concentration camps the actual decision was made echelons above him, Eisenhower made the deal with the despicable French general in order to avoid having to fight French forces along with the Wehrmacht in northern Africa or alienating the Arab population in such a way that would negatively affect an already difficult military campaign. In both cases, it was military exigencies—whether right or wrong in the bigger picture—that were determinative to Eisenhower at a time when the conflict’s outcome was far from certain.
On April 12, 1945, however, with the Wehrmacht in full retreat and Allied forces pouring into Germany, Eisenhower visited the recently liberated Ohrdruf-Nord concentration camp near Gotha with generals Omar Bradley and George Patton. In an effort to eliminate witnesses to their crimes, the SS guards had murdered 4,000 prisoners before fleeing. The surviving prisoners were emaciated skeletons, and bodies were piled everywhere, some having been set ablaze in makeshift funeral pyres. The stench was indescribable, and even Patton, no shrinking violent when it came to the carnage of battle, excused himself and vomited against the side of a building. Eisenhower called the atrocities “beyond the American mind to comprehend,” and ordered every American unit not on the frontlines to see Ohrdruf. The next day he visited Buchenwald and sent a cable to George Marshall urging the Army chief of staff to come to Germany to see for himself. “I made the visit deliberately,” he told his boss, “in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda.’”
Eisenhower wrote to the governments in Washington and London urging that newspaper editors and representatives of all political parties be sent to Germany immediately so that evidence of Nazi atrocities could be placed before the British and American publics in a way that would leave no room for doubt. This began the process of documenting the Shoah that proved instrumental to both the prosecution of Nazi war crimes and gaining international sympathy critical to the eventual support for the creation of the State of Israel.
After Germany’s surrender in May 1945, more than 8 million displaced persons (DPs) wandered through Europe. By the end of the summer all but roughly 600,000 had been repatriated, including about 100,000 German and East European Jews who had survived the extermination camps. The U.S. Army, together with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, assumed responsibility for the remaining DPs and had to establish camps, register and process individuals, and provide food, shelter, clothing and medical care. Because of a lack of facilities, the military detained many of the European Jews in or near the concentration camps where they had been imprisoned. Moreover, the Army made the mistake of classifying Jewish DPs by their nationality rather than as a separate group, so that German and Italian Jews were labeled former “enemy nationals” and often housed with former concentration camp guards.
When Earl Harrison led a State Department investigation into the conditions in European refugee camps, he found the Jews lived “amid crowded, frequently unsanitary and generally grim conditions in complete idleness.” Moreover, the report concluded: “As matters now stand, we appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them except that we do not exterminate them. They are in concentration camps in large numbers under our military guard instead of S.S. troops.”
As supreme commander, Eisenhower undoubtedly bears some responsibility for this debacle. Yet whereas Bendersky implies the Army’s neglect was due to latent anti-Semitism, it must also be remembered that there was simply no precedent for a humanitarian mission of this scale in 1945. Moreover, because the Roosevelt administration had repeatedly vacillated as to what Allied policy toward postwar Germany would be, the military operated under the only approved operational document, JCS 1067, which provided little to no guidance as to how to handle so many DPs, particularly those as persecuted and traumatized as the Holocaust’s survivors.
Once Eisenhower was made aware of Harrison’s findings, he acted quickly. He toured the DP camps, which Rabbi Judah Nadich, who was the senior Jewish chaplain in the European Theater of Operations, said “proved to be the single greatest factor to date in boosting the morale of the displaced persons. They knew now that they were not forgotten people.” Eisenhower issued a series of directives aimed at improving their conditions. Subordinates were told to segregate Jewish refugees, requisition housing for them even if it meant displacing Germans, and to increase their daily rations to 2,500 calories, twice that of German civilians. One American observer, Harvey D. Gibson, president of Manufacturers Trust Co., toured the revamped areas in October 1945 and reported that conditions were “much-improved.”
Eisenhower also reversed his initial position and requested that somebody be appointed to serve as a special adviser on affairs dealing with displaced Jews, and in October Judge Simon Rifkind was given the position. (Indeed, Eisenhower cabled Secretary of War Henry Stimson with this request on Aug. 10, 1945, a month before President Harry Truman’s letter ordering the general to address the Harrison Report’s findings.) Eisenhower subsequently promised Rifkind “Anything you need in the way of personnel or transport, or in any other type of assistance.” Rabbi Nadich, who served as an adviser to Eisenhower, recalled that Eisenhower’s treatment of the Jews was consistently “marked by understanding and sympathy.”
Eisenhower was also sympathetic to Harrison Report findings that contradicted Allied policy. One challenge in maintaining the DP camps was that the number of people they had to accommodate kept rising as Jews who had returned to their former homes in Poland, Romania, and other areas of Eastern Europe were forced to flee again in the face of postwar pogroms. Whereas the British and Soviets denied these refugees entry into their zones of occupation, the U.S. Army let them into the American zone. Consequently, Nadich stated that Eisenhower saved the “lives not only of the Jews in the DP camps,” but also of the “approximately 80,000 Jews … who came in across the borders from Eastern Europe.”
Once in the American zone, Harrison found that most of the Jews wanted to go to Palestine, and recommended that 100,000 Jews be quickly allowed to emigrate there. The British still held the mandate, however, and strenuously opposed the policy. Although Eisenhower was unable to alter this fact, he allowed David Ben-Gurion and other representatives of the Jewish Agency to visit the camps and establish contact with the Jewish DPs that enabled a mass exodus from the camps once Israel gained its independence.
Whereas Rabbi Nadich perhaps overstates Eisenhower’s contribution by declaring that “in the annals of Jewish history the name of General Eisenhower will always be venerated as one of the great saviors in the history of the Jewish people” one need only compare Eisenhower’s empathy for the Jews to other generals to see that his reaction was extraordinary. Although arguably America’s greatest operational commander during the war, Patton’s oversight of the DP camps in Bavaria was marred by his indisputable anti-Semitism. He wrote that “Harrison and his ilk believe that the displaced person is a human being, which he is not, and this applies particularly to the Jews, who are lower than animals.” When Eisenhower visited one of the worst DP camps in Bavaria, Patton blamed the squalid conditions on the inmates themselves, who were “pissing and crapping all over the place,” and said he was thinking of building his own concentration camp “for some of these goddamn Jews.” Eisenhower told him, “Shut up, George,” and later relieved his old friend from command for Patton’s comments to the press comparing membership in the Nazi party to that of the Democratic and Republican parties. When Eisenhower met with Patton’s replacement, Gen. Lucian Truscott, he told him that the “most acute and important problems” facing the Third Army “were those involving denazification and the handling of those unfortunate persons who had been the victims of Nazi persecution.” Eisenhower told Truscott to be “stern” toward the Nazis and to give preferential treatment to Jewish DPs.
Thus, although the Eisenhower administrations paid little attention to American Jewry’s concerns in regard to Israel as it set out to enact a policy of “friendly impartiality” toward the Arab-Israeli conflict, it would be mistake to view this as the grand sum of Eisenhower’s relationship with the Jews. Indeed, as Doran points out, by 1958 President Eisenhower realized that distancing itself from Israel gained the United States precious little diplomatic traction in Arab capitals. According to his vice president, Richard Nixon, Eisenhower said that Suez was “his major foreign policy mistake,” and the former President reportedly told another acquaintance, “I never should have pressured Israel to evacuate the Sinai.”
What is indisputable is that, against both the circumstances of his upbringing and his professional/social milieu, Eisenhower developed a deep empathy for the plight of European Jewry and he repeatedly expressed that empathy through strong, consistent action. Although he might not merit inclusion in Yad Vashem’s Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations, he enacted policies that saved Jewish lives and helped make Israel’s creation possible—and which few other American generals would have ordered.
Ed. note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the date of Eisenhower’s death. He died March 28, 1969, at age 78.
Benjamin Runkle is the author of Generals in the Making: How Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, and Their Peers Became the Commanders Who Won World War II. He is a Senior Policy Fellow with Artis International and an Adjunct Lecturer with The Johns Hopkins University’s Global Security Studies program.
THEODOR HERZL, on the balcony of the Three Kings Hotel in Basel in 1898, during the First Zionist Congress. / (photo credit: GPO)
The American Zionist Movement (AZM) is launching an initiative called Herzl 125 to highlight Zionist anniversaries in 2021-2022.
The initiative coincides with the 125th anniversary of the February 4, 1896 publication of Zionist leader Theodor Herzl’s Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State).
The bible of Zionism, for lack of a better term, outlined Herzl’s vision for a modern Jewish state in the land of Israel.
When Herzl wrote Der Judenstaat, Jews living in Israel had second-class status and paid a special tax to their Ottoman overlords.
Things worsened under the British, with Jews being murdered by Arab neighbors enraged by the incoming refugees who were escaping the jaws of Jew-hatred in Europe.
Thus the Jews, fed up with miserable lives and untimely deaths, organized and began to push for a state and form armies of their own, decades before the Holocaust.
In light of the book’s anniversary, the AZM will be celebrating landmark events representing Herzl’s efforts and the triumphs of Zionism since its writing. The initiative will run through 2022, culminating at the 125th anniversary of the Zionist Congress.
“Herzl’s leadership and vision, combined with his perseverance, lead to the gathering of world Jewry to form the Zionist movement that resulted in the fulfillment of his dream in 1948 when the State of Israel was established,” said AZM President Richard D. Heideman and AZM Executive Director Herbert Block. “125 years later, as Zionism continues to connect the global Jewish community to our ancestral and modern homeland, we reaffirm our commitment to its principles as we move Zionism forward.”
The AZM, together with the World Zionist Organization’s Herzl Center in Jerusalem, will present a webinar: “The Jewish State; 125 Years Later,” beginning at 8 p.m. IST.
The “Your Honor” production team: Tobias von dem Borne (DOP), David Nawarth (director), Paula Beer, Sebastian Koch, Al Munteanu (SquareOne Entertainment), and Thomas Hroch (Mona Film). Photo: SquareOne Entertainment.
An adaptation of the Israeli original television series from yes Studios “Your Honor” (“Kvodo”) is coming to Germany, The Algemeiner has learned.
The new series, titled “EUER EHREN,” will be led by Germany’s SquareOne Productions, in co-production with Austria’s Mona Film, German public broadcaster ARD Degeto and Austrian public broadcaster ORF. It will star German actors Sebastian Koch and Paula Beer, who were co-stars in the Oscar-nominated 2018 drama “Never Look Away.” Filming for the six-episode thriller will take place in Vienna, Innsbruck and other surrounding areas.
“Your Honor” is about a judge who has dedicated his career to fighting organized crime, but is forced to confront his convictions when his teenage son is implicated in a hit-and-run case that injures the son of an arrested crime boss. To save his son from those seeking revenge, the judge sets off a series of lies, deceit and violence.
Koch will play the incorruptible Judge Michael Jacobi in the German adaptation, which will focus on drug trafficking across the Austrian Brenner Pass, the main route across the Alps into central Europe.
“When I first discovered the series in Tel Aviv almost four years ago, I was immediately hooked,” said SquareOne Productions CEO Al Munteanu. “Sebastian Koch was my first call. We boarded this project hand-in-hand and attracted the continuous support of ARD Degeto, ORF, and our production partner Mona Film. I am elated by the high-caliber cast we were able to attract to this premium series, as well as the production teams on both sides of the camera.”
Danna Stern, managing director of yes Studios, said, “It is beyond our wildest dreams to have such a world-class roster of talent on-board for the German rendition of ‘Your Honor.’ This is a testament to Al’s unfaltering commitment to this project and his vision of how best to adapt this unique family/crime drama for local German-speaking audiences.”
Emmy-winning actor Bryan Cranston stars as New Orleans judge Michael Desiato in Showtime’s US adaptation of the Israeli series, which won the Series Mania Grand Prix in 2017.
Square One Productions is also co-producing a French adaptation of the series titled “L’Homme d’Honneur,” which will star Gérad Dépardieu and Kad Mérad, and is currently developing the show’s Italian adaptation, with co-production partner Indiana and Italy’s public broadcaster RAI.
The Israeli original, created by Ron Ninio and Shlomo Mashiach, was produced by Koda Communications and yes Studios. Two seasons already aired in Israel and according to yes Studios, Russian and Indian adaptations of the show also exist.
According Algerian writer Boualem Sansal, “France still does not understand the reality it is facing. It believes that it has been struck by terrorists… but it is suffering a guerrilla war that is gradually gaining momentum…” (Photo by Farouk Batiche/AFP via Getty Images)
October 29. Nice, the main city on the French Riviera. A man in the Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption decapitates a woman and murders two other people while shouting “Allahu Akbar!” [“Allah is the greatest!”]
This is the second beheading in France by an extremist Muslim in less than a month. Two weeks earlier, on October 16, a middle school teacher, Samuel Paty, was beheaded in the suburbs of Paris after showing his students some Mohammad cartoons during a discussion on freedom of speech.
Paty’s beheading came after many other recent, seemingly jihadist-inspired murders in France. They include the protracted torture and murder of Ilan Halimi in 2006; the slaughter of a Jewish teacher and three children in Toulouse in 2012; the massacre of the staff of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015 and the murder on the same day of four Jews at a kosher supermarket; the beheading of an entrepreneur, Herve Cornara, in his car in the suburbs of Lyon in 2015; a truck-ramming that killed 86 and wounded 458 people leaving a Bastille Day fireworks celebration in Nice on July 14, 2016; the murder a few days later, on July 26, of Father Jacques Hamel while he was conducting mass, and the murders of two elderly Jews, Sarah Halimi and Dr. Mireille Knoll, in 2017.
It is also the third extremist attack in France in less than two months. On September 26, shortly before Paty was killed, a Pakistani, Zaheer Hassan Mahmoud, assaulted and seriously injured two people in front of the former offices of Charlie Hebdo.
Countless attacks by young Muslims, often resulting in serious injuries, are committed daily throughout France — according to police figures, approximately 120 times a day.
France seems to be the Western European country most affected by Islamic violence. Although the deadliest terrorist attacks have disappeared since the destruction of the Islamic State and the far-away bases from which they could easily be organized, they still occur, just on a smaller scale. They never stop.
The attitude of successive French governments every time a serious attack is carried out — the less serious ones go unnoticed — has been the same. The president and his ministers give speeches denouncing the danger and promising firmness; then nothing happens. On February 16, 2015, Prime Minister Manuel Valls actually instructed his countrymen that “the French should get used to living with the terrorist threat”.
A few months after that, on November 14, 2015, an extremist massacre at the Bataclan Theater took place, in which 130 people were murdered and more than 360 wounded. A state of emergency was declared. For two years, soldiers were seen on the streets of France, but when the state of emergency did not prevent several more attacks from being committed — including the assassination of Father Hamel, and the deadly July 14 truck-ramming in Nice — the state of emergency, in view of its uselessness, was lifted two years after it was proclaimed.
President Emmanuel Macron, shortly after he was elected in May 2017, promised to do better than his predecessors and to act decisively. Three and a half years later, he seems largely to have failed.
Macron can see that French hostility towards Islam is growing. A poll conducted in October 2019 revealed that 61% of French people think “Islam is incompatible with the values of French society”. He can also see also that an outspoken opponent of radicalism, Marine Le Pen, president of the National Rally party, is considered by many French people as more credible than he to ensure the security of the country and that she could possibly defeat him in the 2022 presidential election. He has apparently decided, therefore, to try to do more.
On October 2, he delivered a solemn speech denouncing what he calls “Islamic separatism” and promising to propose a law to fight against “Islamism”. He was careful to insist that he was blaming Islamism — which he defined as an “ideology”, as distinct from Islam, which he referred to as “a religion in crisis.”
The next day, the leading French Muslim associations published a statement presenting their constituents as the victims. “Muslims in France,” they said, “are increasingly the target of the worst stigmatization and invective from political figures who make Islamophobia a business”.
Anti-racist associations supported their statement. Dominique Sopo, president of SOS Racisme, said that Macron was sinking into “a political obsession with Islam”. Malik Salemkour, president of the League for Human Rights, accused Macron of taking up “the speeches of the extreme right and pointing the finger at innocent culprits, fundamentalist Muslims”.
The leaders of several Muslim countries called for a boycott of French products. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan questioned Macron’s “mental health”. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation did not name Macron, but “deplored the remarks of some French officials that could harm Franco-Muslim relations”.
To calm the situation, Macron sent French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to Egypt to meet with Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, Egypt’s highest Muslim authority, After their discussion on November 9, Le Drian announced, “I have emphasized, and emphasize here, the deep respect we have for Islam.”
Macron, responding to an article in the Financial Times accusing him of “dividing France further,” wrote that he did not in any way want to “stigmatize Muslims,” and that he had spoken of “Islamist separatism,” not of “Islamic separatism”. He stated that that France was “confronted by hundreds of radicalized individuals, who we fear may, at any moment, take a knife and kill people…. This,” he noted, “is what France is fighting against — designs of hatred and death that threaten its children — never against Islam”.
Since then, Macron has been even more cautious.
On the evening of Paty’s beheading on October 16, Macron said that the murder had been an “Islamist terrorist attack” and denounced “obscurantism and violence”. He later said that the murderer seemed to have been driven by “the fatal conspiracy of stupidity, lies, amalgamation, hatred of the other”.
Just two weeks later, however, after the knife murder of three people in Nice on October 28, Macron simply asked “people of all religions to unite and not give in to the spirit of division”.
The notion of Islamist separatism used by Macron does not really make a lot of sense. He criticized what he calls Islamist separatism for “claiming that its own laws are superior to those of the Republic”. As the historian Mohammed Hocine Benkheira puts it, explains:
“For Muslims, Islamic law has God as its author. Any other legislator is illegitimate. When people live under laws other than this one, not only do they sin if they accept this state of affairs, but they also live under the reign of injustice and oppression. It is therefore that Islam itself that places its laws above the laws of any government.”
“Islam,” the author Celine Pina pointed out, “does not ask Muslims to separate, but to conquer”.
“If neighborhoods have become Muslim neighborhoods, it is not because the Muslims who live there have decided to separate, but because the non-Muslims have fled from them”, noted Christophe Guilluy, another author. Most non-Muslims, it seems, do not want to live in areas where the law of Islam reigns and where unveiled women are sometimes harassed or assaulted.
The idea that Islamism is an ideology distinct from Islam is, unfortunately, totally meaningless. As Erdogan, regarding the term “moderate Islam,” noted in August 2007, “These descriptions are very ugly. It is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.” Such false distinctions, according to the British author Douglas Murray in his book , Islamophilia, are usually “used by political leaders who fear offending Muslim populations”.
For Islamic organizations, anti-racist organizations, and various countries of the Muslim world, however, speaking of “Islamist separatism” or “Islamism” in France, or promising to fight against “Islamism”, or saying that Islam is in crisis, is evidently a bridge too far.
The law Macron promised has been presented to the French National Assembly and is to be voted on this month. The text shows that Macron’s law will not, after all, be against “Islamic separatism”, but only a “law upholding republican principles”. The main aim of the law, it seems, is to “combat online hate” — which is not defined in the text. The law will not, therefore, allow anyone to “combat” anything that judges or associations might define as hate.
The new law will, however, ban home schooling. As Muslim parents are not the only ones who practice it in France, the ruling will consequently affect thousands of non-Muslim families as well.
In a message Macron addressed to the CFCM, Conseil Français du Culte Musulman (French Council of Muslim Worship), an organization created in 2003 to represent the various French Muslim associations, Macron asked its President, Mohamed Moussaoui, and the various Muslim associations belonging to the CFCM, to sign a “charter of republican values”. These defined Islam in France as “a religion and not a political movement,” and prohibited “foreign interference” in French Islam. Although Moussaoui and the Muslim associations belonging to the CFCM immediately signed the proposal, no one is expecting their consent to mean that they are planning to change their practices. Islam has always and everywhere, for fourteen centuries, been more than a religion; it is an entire spiritual, political and legal system, and will continue to be what it is — “Islam is Islam” — and the French President will not be able to change that either. Islam knows no borders and no differences between countries. Muslims belong to the ummah [nation of believers] and that is a situation the French President will not be able to change, either.
The man who stabbed three people to death in Nice on October 29; the murderer of Samuel Paty; the knife-wielding assailant of two people in front of the former offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on September 25 and other assailants, all benefited from refugee status. Macron, however, does not seem interested in considering any legislative decisions aimed at examining the files of persons benefiting from that status in France.
For now, France continues to receive approximately 400,000 immigrants a year, most of whom come from the Muslim world. Macron also does not seem interested in considering any measures that might limit immigration to France.
Meanwhile, the proportion of Muslims in the French population continues to grow. Today, Muslims represent 10% of the population; estimates indicate that this figure will double by 2050. At the same time, the number of Muslims living in France who place Shari’ah above the laws of the republic also continues to grow. Currently, 57% of Muslims under the age of 25 say they would prefer to obey Shari’ah rather than the laws of the French republic should they contradict Shari’ah. Previously, in 2016, people holding those views made up only 47%.
Referring to the Mohammed cartoons reprinted by Charlie Hebdo, Macron said that France will not change the laws that guarantee freedom of expression and that he is in a “fight for our freedoms”. Even so, he overlooked that in France, freedom of expression is already extremely restricted, especially when it comes to Islam; the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo were an exception. A law passed in 1972 long ago condemned “incitement to discrimination, hatred, or violence against a person or group of persons on account of their origin or their belonging to a particular ethnic group, nation, race, or religion”. This law is still increasingly used to condemn speech regarded by some as “Islamophobic”.
The journalist Éric Zemmour has been condemned several times for having made politically incorrect remarks about Muslim immigration and for pointing out that Islam has a history of bloodshed and war. Zemmour was also recently fined 10,000 euros for “incitement to hatred” after a speech he gave on September 28, 2019. What he had said was that Muslims living in France are becoming less and less integrated, that entire neighborhoods are becoming “budding Islamic republics” and that France is undergoing a process of Islamic “colonization”.
The association Riposte Laïque (Secular Response), created to combat the Islamization of France, is constantly under attack in court. Its president, Pierre Cassen, has been condemned again and again for stating, accurately, that all the terrorist attacks that have marked France in the last two decades were committed by Muslims, and that Islam, throughout its history, has fundamentally been violent and bloody. In 2018, Cassen was sentenced to a three-month suspended sentence; if he is sentenced again, for “Islamophobic” speech, even if what he says is factually correct, he will spend at least a month in prison. Criticizing uncontrolled immigration to France and its consequences could be enough to earn him jail time.
Renaud Camus, the author of the book Le grand remplacement (“The Great Replacement”) — which describes the slow replacement of the French population by a Muslim population — was sentenced in January 2020 to a two-month suspended sentence for having said that “immigration has become invasion”.
At a ceremony in honor of Paty, Macron paid tribute to teachers. He noted that they bring knowledge, and promised that he would give back “to them the power of the place and the authority that belongs to them. We will consider them as they should be, we will support them, we will protect them as much as necessary”.
The reality is that most teachers in France can no longer bring real knowledge to anyone. They would find themselves in danger or out of work. Twenty teachers recently published an article in which they spoke of “students running in the corridors of schools screaming Allahu akbar”, “students who threaten teachers [and] humiliate them in front of their class” and who state that “there are no measures to effectively ensure the safety of teachers.”
As far back as 2002, the historian Georges Bensoussan noted in the book Les territoires perdus de la République (“The Lost Territories of the Republic”) that it had become impossible in the high schools of France’s Muslim neighborhoods to talk about the Holocaust and certain other subjects. He added that teachers had to censor themselves or risk their lives. Fifteen years later, in the book Une France soumise (“A Submissive France”), he reported that the situation had worsened considerably. By 2017, the self-censorship that teachers had to impose on themselves was present throughout the country. The horrendous fate of Paty shows what can happen to a teacher who decides not to self-censor.
The extremist Muslim attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012 cost the life of a teacher, Jonathan Sandler, and three children — Sandler’s two sons and Myriam Monsonego — who perhaps had been inadequately protected. Although it was the first time that a teacher and children were murdered in a school in France, it was, not the first time here that Jews have been victims of Islamic anti-Semitism. The French government continues to remain disingenuously blind to Islamic anti-Semitism.
“There are strong tendencies at work in France,” Alain Wagner, an expert on Islam, remarked.
“If nothing changes, in a few decades, France will have submitted to Islam, and Islamic violence will probably be even greater than today. It is already almost impossible for the country’s leaders to react. They are hostages of a Muslim population that is less and less integrated and whose anger they do not want to arouse. They are under the gaze of groups that immediately denounce any criticism of Islam and under pressure from many countries in the Muslim world that France does not want to offend”.
“Macron”, noted the American writer Raymond Ibrahim in October, “is still not able to pinpoint the real problem because it would be politically incorrect for him to do so… This is the problem with someone like Macron and what he’s saying… they can never acknowledge that what’s happening is integral or a part of authentic Islam….”
“France still does not understand the reality it is facing,” said the Algerian writer Boualem Sansal. “It believes that it has been struck by terrorists… but it is suffering a guerrilla war that is gradually gaining momentum…”
Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.