by Nidra Poller (June 2010)
The French reaction to the Gaza Flotilla incident was predictable. President Sarkozy pulled the “disproportionate” card out of his ever ready deck. The loquacious Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner was deeply shocked, horrified really, that such a humanitarian flotilla could be met with such violence and such humanitarian activists could be so brutally killed, leaving their loved ones to mourn and Monsieur Kouchner to grieve and, moreover, to concluded that Israel must abandon the nasty Gaza blockade and put an end to all such provocation. No amount of video footage showing Israeli soldiers bashed, stabbed, firebombed, thrown overboard, or shot could deflect the anger aimed at Israel by Dr. Kouchner--a seasoned humanitarian in his own right. Anything done under the certified “peace activist” label is fit for human consumption and must be marketed without constraint.
Cogent arguments in defense of Israel’s restrained response to the brutal surprise attack on the Mavi Marmara will soothe the convinced without quenching the flames of enraged Israel bashers or deflecting the self-righteous reaction of the world’s leaders. Every move made by Israel to defend its population and its very existence is preemptively condemned. This isn’t a PR problem, it is a form of combat. You can’t fight a war by considering each bullet, each skirmish, each encounter as a separate incident. And you can’t fight this irrational, unethical, inexcusable condemnation of Israel without looking behind the surface histrionics and into the heart of the darkness from which it comes.
The Gaza Flotilla is not a lone wolf. It is a battleship in a warrior fleet that targets Israel, yes, but also Europe, the United States, Japan, the entire free world. The Gaza Flotilla is no more a humanitarian operation than 9/11. They come by land, by sea, and in the air. They brandish grievances and carry big iron rods and will soon be sporting nuclear warheads. Unless something is done to stop them. And that’s the first rub: the purpose of this flotilla-poke at Israel’s defenses is to test the reaction of…the free world. And the knees jerked! Ambassadors summoned for scoldings, solemn indignation, serious doubts about Israel’s version of the incident, sympathetic ears to the tall tales of humanitarian survivors of Israeli brutality and, in the streets, the enraged mobs.
Now, apply the lesson to the Iranian nuclear weapons flotilla and you see my point. If the Gaza Flotilla incident could arouse such widespread condemnation imagine what will happen when Israel moves to prevent Iran from acquiring the ultimate weapon. Nothing to do with anti-Semitism? It’s all about poor suffering Gaza? But Jews everywhere, including the United States, will be attacked. Today in Strasbourg some 800 “pro-Palestinians” marched on the synagogue and would have burned it down or torn it to pieces with their bare hands if the police hadn’t intervened. This time. A day will come when they will not be able to hold off the mob.
And there’s the second rub. These nations pounced on Israel with hypocritical indignation because they do not protect their own citizens!
What happens when a state responds to the domestic version of the Flotilla with exquisite proportionality? Welcome to France. La racaille (the thugs President Sarkozy once promised to rid us of) regularly lure police into an ambush with a seemingly innocent SOS. “Hurry up a car is on fire.” The police arrive, like the Israeli commandos lowered onto the Mavi Marmara, and are met with 200 masked men armed with iron rods, baseball bats, knives, machetes and, more and more often, guns.
Law enforcement finally decides to crack down on a flourishing banlieue drug trade. Drugs and hundreds of thousands of euros are seized, a few people are arrested, and the neighborhood goes berserk. Cars, schools, community centers, shopping centers, and buses are torched; riot police sent to escort the buses are attacked, the thugs shoot at the police, shoot at the buses, aiming at the driver… and a few days later the story drops out of the news. Forgotten. Any more drug busts? Who knows?
French culture is Latin… people feel free to come and go at all hours, stroll in lively streets, sit in cafés, eat in restaurants. Four young people got off a tramway in the center of Grenoble on a Saturday evening at the same time as a bunch of rowdy “youths” who were kicked off the tram. The youths accosted, insulted, egged on the law-abiding citizens, then jumped one of them, a 23 year-old cartographer, knocked him to the ground, kicked him in the head with all their might, bashed him into a coma, stabbed him, perforating his lung, and ran away. There were no video images of that attack (France is under-equipped with surveillance cameras) but it would have looked something like the images we saw this week of “peace activists” ganged up on an isolated Israeli, bashing him with murderous iron rods.
It would be a mistake to think that breaking the Gaza blockade is the only kind of grievance that can lead to this kind of violent confrontation. It is a tragic error to disconnect what looks like a humanitarian operation from what looks like common crime.
Last month, a French family was waiting in line at the Asterix theme park outside of Paris. Asterix is one of the heroes of the feisty village that defended Gaul against the Romans. Four “youths” from the Essonne banlieue pushed ahead of them. The couple’s young adult sons, aged 18 and 20, objected but did not resist. A little later, as the family was picnicking, the youths returned, with dozens of reinforcements. They beat up the sons and knocked around the mother when she tried to protect her boys.
These are not isolated incidents, they are everyday life. Schoolteachers are beaten, stabbed, stomped. Doctors and nurses are viciously attacked. The Sheikh Yassin commando kicked the imam of Drancy, Hassen Chalghoumi, out of his mosque and has promised to kill him because he associates with Jews and publicly supports the anti-niqab law. The same commando attacked people who came to a debate on the anti-niqab law organized by Ni Putes ni Soumises (Neither whores nor doormats, an association created by Muslim French women who want to resist the imposition of sharia). Another sort of commando—but maybe they work together, who knows? -- is attacking ATM machines and Brinks trucks. No one seems to be able to stop them.
Recently a commando in a panel truck was spotted by the (national) police as they bopped down the highway, apparently en route to a big heist. When the police tried to stop the truck the commando shot at them with AK 47s, injuring several people, some seriously. The thugs drove into Villiers sur Marne and set the truck on fire to destroy the evidence. Municipal police (who are not connected to the national police wavelength and had not been informed), thinking it was a traffic accident, approached the burning truck. The commando shot at them, killing a 26 year-old policewoman. By a stroke of luck the police captured one member of the group. And, contrary to usual procedure, they released his name and photo. Malek Khider is a repeat offender, who had been released from jail in 2005 after serving three years of a ten-year sentence. The police are searching for his 6 accomplices. They say they know the identity of one of them. But don’t trust the public to keep an eye out for him. No name, no photo.
In 99% of cases, criminals are not identified or in any way described… unless of course they are Serb or 10th generation French. Otherwise, they are youths. It is not rare to read of a “35 year-old adult youth.” Journalist Eric Zemmour is under fire and under investigation and about to lose all of his jobs because he said, in the heat of a let it all hang out TV program, that Arabs and Africans are stopped more often than others for ID checks because they are more likely to be involved in criminal behavior, and that is also why they make up the vast majority of the prison population.
There is a radical shift in the balance of power in France (and all Western European countries). It is happening on all levels of society—politics, media, academia, the professions, the civil service, the military, and security. This shift is taking place under cover of a variety of legitimate aspirations. Equal opportunity, anti-racism, peaceful resolution of conflict, helping the disadvantaged, respecting other cultures and religions, anti-colonialism, righting wrongs, celebrating diversity…
It is taboo to describe and analyze this process as jihad in France and other European countries and now in the United States as well. And many will think it is far-fetched to connect it to the Gaza Flotilla. But then did they ever imagine, when two Israeli reservists were bashed to a pulp and torn limb from limb in Ramallah in October 2000, that their citizens would risk death for taking a walk in a university town like Grenoble? Bombed to smithereens in buses and trains in London and Madrid? Incinerated in the skyscraper ovens of the WTC?
If the French Foreign Minister is deeply shocked to see a handful of Israeli soldiers shoot their way out of a murderous ambush on a ship with 600 passengers armed to kill or willing to stand by and let them be lynched it is because he is not shocked to know that the citizens of his own country are defenseless in the face of thousands of little flotillas sailing out from the same heartland.
PS: the Defense Department just admitted that the French skipper shot dead last year when special forces stormed his yacht to liberate him and his family from armed Somali pirates, was in fact the hapless victim of a French special forces bullet. C’est la vie. Et la mort. These things happen.
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