Monday, 13 March 2017
by Hugh Fitzgerald
Professor Georges Bensoussan of the University of Strasbourg is a celebrated French historian of the Holocaust. He is currently the lead editor at the Shoah Memorial in Paris, and author of, among many books, Europe, Une Passion Génocidaire (Europe: A Genocidal Passion), a work he defined as “an intellectual archeology of the Shoah” and an attempt to rehabilitate “a historical approach wrongly accused of being essentialist.” As a Jew born in Morocco, he also researches and writes, with the authority of direct knowledge, on the subject of Jews in Arab lands. And he writes, too, about North African Muslims in France. In 2002 he produced, under the alias of Emmanuel Brenner, a collective work on the state of French schools with Muslim students. This book was Les Territoires Perdus de la République (The Republic’s Lost Territories). Les Territoires was the first account directly written by teachers and high-school directors set in the French cités, reporting on the antisemitism, sexism, and racism that plagued these places and emanated, for the most part, from Muslims whose cultural roots were in North African countries. The book was both an immediate hit and a scandal, and Bensoussan soon ended up labeled by the left as a “new reactionary” and a “French neocon” for daring to discuss what everyone in France, but especially teachers and school administrators, knew was true about the effect of Muslim students on French schools, and especially on discipline. He also received support from many on the anti-Islam left, including not only the philosophers Élisabeth Badinter, Pascal Bruckner, and Alain Finkielkraut, but also, and importantly, from several Arabs, including the Algerian writer Boualem Sansal, who had witnessed the Algerian civil war of the 1990s, and the Algerian journalist Mohamed Sifaoui, who has risked his life both in Algeria and in France denouncing Islamist threats. The “anti-racists” of the LICRA (the League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism) also supported Bensoussan’s attempt to tell the truth about French schools. In 2004, the French government commissioned two successive reports on anti-Jewish violence in the Muslim-populated suburbs (banlieues), both essentially confirming what was in Bensoussan’s book, but these reports were both shelved because their conclusions were so disturbing.
In October of 2015, Professor Bensoussan was invited to be a guest on Répliques, a radio program hosted by Alain Finkielkraut, the philosopher and member of the French Academy, to discuss a new documentary, Profs en Territoires Perdus de la République? to be broadcast that very night. Among Professor Bensoussan’s remarks on the program was his reference to the Algerian-born French sociologist Smain Laacher, a non-Jew, who had in an interview for a documentary declared that in Arab families, “antisemitism is in the air one breathes.” Bensoussan paraphrased Laacher as saying that in Arab families, “antisemitism is imbibed with their mother’s milk.” The words were different, but the meaning was exactly the same. Nonetheless, Laacher took offense at Bensoussan’s paraphrase, which he claimed implied that antisemitism among Arabs was “biological,” in the blood, and he further objected to being called an “Algerian sociologist” when, he said correctly, he was “French.” Here is how Laacher described what he had actually said in his documentary, that Bensoussan had paraphrased somewhat differently: “This anti-Semitism is already planted into the domestic space. It quasi-naturally rolls off the tongue, planted into the tongue. From parents to children, when they want to reprimand them, it is enough to call them Jews. OK, every Arab family knows that. Not to see that this anti-Semitism is first domestic is a monumental hypocrisy.”
Not a monumental difference, but the hint he detected of a “biological” antisemitism in Bensoussan’s version disturbed Laacher. Eventually he and Bensoussan, with their lawyers, came to an agreement in mid-2016, basically to patch things up and quarrel in public no longer. Things seemed to have ended there, but then the Muslim group CCIF, the Collectif contre l’Islamophobie en France, independently of Laacher, decided to accuse Bensoussan of “hate speech” for his remark about Muslim antisemitism “being imbibed with their mother’s milk.” The group managed to obtain the support of the human-rights group LICRA (though some of its members, including Finkielkraut, promptly resigned in protest). And French judges took seriously the absurd charge of a “hate crime.”
The trial finally began in December 2016. The witnesses for the prosecution included Muslims who admitted that in Arab families, when children misbehaved, they were called “Jew” — a ready term of opprobrium — by their parents, but the same witnesses insisted there was nothing “antisemitic” about this. Many French academics had been scathing in their criticism of what they saw – rightly – as the trumped-up persecution of Professor Bensoussan. The political farce came to an end on March 7, when the Court absolved Bensoussan of the charge of “hate speech”:
That this gigantic effort was made to punish, and thereby shut down, the free speech of someone who had dared to write truthfully about the effect of Muslim schoolchildren on French schools, and about the No-Go areas (“the lost territories of the Republic”) in France, and about the rampant antisemitism in Arab families, is scandalous. Bensoussan, after all, was made to endure months of anxiety, before the trial, and during it, all for the putative “hate crime” of slightly misparaphrasing what Laacher had said, without however doing any violence to Laacher’s meaning.
And while today in France, the Muslim groups such as CCIF (Collectif contre l’Islamophobie en France) are furious, all those who defend freedom of speech can breathe a sigh of relief, happy that for now the forces of darkness and obscurantism have not prevailed. There will, however, soon be another such grotesque charge of a “hate crime”against Muslims or Islam brought in France, or Germany, or Belgium, or elsewhere where freedom of speech, in the Muslim view, needs to be curtailed – which is to say, everywhere — and where the offended Muslims will attempt, just as they did in the Bensoussan case, to shut down any criticism of Muslims or of Islam.
Meanwhile, one would like to ask members of the French press, in the interests of collective sanity, to simply reprint a florilegium of Qur’anic quotes that help explain why antisemitism is “in the air one breathes in Muslim families” (Laacher) or, if you prefer Bensoussan’s version, “imbibed by young Muslims with their mother’s milk.” And if a Muslim group were to bring suit if such passages were published, that suit would only draw attention to the very passages that Muslim group would prefer non-Muslims remain unaware of, or at least not pay much attention to, as they are spread out throughout the Qur’an. But the authenticity of these passages cannot be denied. They needed only to be brought together in one place, which is exactly what Robert Spencer has done. Nor could Muslims claim, with such a mountain of textual evidence, that antisemitism is not deeply embedded in Islam, nor could they pretend that all these Qur’anic verses, and the commentaries upon them, have been “misinterpreted” or, in a variant and just as absurd claim,” cannot possibly be understood by non-Muslims.
Here’s that florilegium of antisemitic verses, compiled by Robert Spencer:
Perhaps Professor Georges Bensoussan, in issuing a public statement about his private calvary, would like to append the antisemitic verses from the Qur’an, and their endorsement both by well-known Qur’anic commentators and by present-day clerics, all of these posted above for handy reference. For Muslims, such passages will be ho-hum, though they will of course be furious that such verses may now receive too much attention from the Kuffar. For many of the Kuffar, however, this evidence should provide a salutary shock. And clearly, if Europe is to save itself, shock therapy will be necessary.
First published in Jihad Watch.
Posted on 03/13/2017 6:55 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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