Heeding the Times from Harry Antonides' Desk

Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, by Bat Ye’or.
Fairleigh Dickinson, 2005. 384 pages
February 20, 2006

In fact, for the past 30 years France and Europe are living in a situation of passive self-defense against terrorism…. The dhimmitude of Europe began with the subversion of its culture and its values, with the destruction of its history and its replacement by an Islamic vision of that history, supported by the romantic myth of Andalusia [Spain under Islamic rule]. (Bat Ye’or, Paris, June 2004) 

Bat Ye’or (daughter of the Nile) is a prolific scholar who has devoted her life to the study of the global impact of Islam. In doing so, she has taken direct aim at what has become established  dogma in the Western halls of learning, eagerly bolstered by a powerful, worldwide Islamic dissemination network. 

Against the Grain

Her main theme is encapsulated in the term “dhimmitude,” which refers to the system of slavish inferiority imposed by the armies of Islam on the conquered nations first in the Middle East, then reaching into Africa, Europe and Asia. It’s a practice introduced by the Prophet Muhammad himself in the seventh century and prescribed in the Koran and the Hadith. 

The author, who was born into a Jewish family in Egypt, experienced first-hand Islam driven anti-Semitism when they were expelled from their native country in the 1950s. The family found refuge in England in1957, where Bat Ye’or received her British citizenship. Now residing in Switzerland, she has issued a string of articles, interviews, and several books detailing the inner workings of Islamic domination throughout its history.

Her publications excel in bringing to light often neglected historical records exposing the myth of Islamic expansion by persuasion and peaceful means. The titles of her major publications suggest this overriding theme of her life’s work: The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam (1985); The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude: 7th-20th Century (1996); Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide (2002). 

Bat Ye’or is up against a powerful stream of opinion now prevailing in the Western world of Islamic and Arabic scholarship. Her views run counter to the Islam-is-a-religion-of-peace syndrome, advocated by such scholars as John Esposito and Juan Cole, current head of the influential Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA), and Karen Armstrong who serves as a propagandist for Islam. Alternatively, Islam-motivated violence is justified as merely the logical response to Western arrogance and imperial ambitions. (The late Edward Said’s book Orientalism has been a major source for this two-fold interpretation of radical Islam.) 

Backed by thorough research and a sometimes numbing accumulation of the historical facts, the author of Eurabia insists that the sanitized version of the history of Islam ignores reality. Her position can be summarized as follows:

·   The Koran and the authoritative texts, that is, hadith and sira (Life of Muhammad), as interpreted by its radical teachers, instruct all followers to strive for the worldwide application of sharia law.

·   The history of Islamic expansion is largely one of discrimination and violent repression of all non-Muslims, especially Christians and Jews.

·   The last 35 years have seen the revival of an aggressive Islamism in the form of terrorism and a gradual encroachment facilitated by European appeasement. 

Bat Ye’or details the story of the little-known, yet far-reaching and extensive discussions and agreements between officials of the European Community/European Union and the Arab countries under the name of the Euro-Arab Dialogue (EAD). 

These initiatives led to the founding of the Parliamentary Association for Euro-Arab Cooperation (PAEAC) in 1974. This body, in which France has played a key role, was entrusted with managing all the details of Euro-Arab relations. The resulting glut of conferences, committees, subcommittees, and agencies have produced a rich harvest of consultations, agreements, seminars, symposia, reports and policies that are astonishing in their reach and complexity.  

Crafty Negotiators

This book represents an admirable attempt to untangle the complicated web that has been spun since the founding of PAEAC more than three decades ago. It includes an extensive index and nine appendices containing excerpts of conference proceedings and other documents that tell a story of European concessions to clever Arab negotiators As the author explains, these negotiators have proven themselves very adept at exploiting the  following fears and aspirations:   

·   Arab countries are major suppliers of oil to European consumers who are fearful of any interruption of that flow.

·   The influence of some 20 million Muslim immigrants, led by spiritual leaders who preach a message of hatred towards Western culture and democracy.

·   Fear of jihad-inspired terrorism within Europe, especially after the attacks in Madrid and London.

·   A prevailing sense of guilt among Europeans for their alleged and real sins as colonial overlords in the Arab world.

·   A determination to form a Euro-Mediterranean power bloc over against America. 

Bat Ye’or does a masterful job of tracing these historical forces that have brought into being the new Europe, where the Muslim faith has invaded every aspect of life. It’s a reality that people shy away from discussing openly, but it has created a great deal of uneasiness among the people of Europe. And there is reason for such uneasiness, for the new Europe is not the outcome of spontaneous and voluntary decisions within civil societies.  On the contrary, it is a product of social engineering at the highest level of politics. The new Eurabia is foremost a top-down, statist structure concocted by a combination of self-confident Arab leaders and European politicians with a collectivistic and appeasement-prone mindset.   

All of these features of the new Europe are dissected by the author of Eurabia in a way that sheds a great deal of light on the murky waters of this new enterprise. Many would be surprised by he extent to which European authorities have agreed to allow Islamic influence into the heartland of Europe. Writes Bat Ye’or:  

Till this day the Euro-Arab Dialogue is totally unknown to Europeans, even though its occult machinery has engineered Europe’s irreversible transformation through hidden channels. European tax-payers do not realize that they are funding the numerous foundations of the Dialogue, its complex bodies which are working under their own national parliament, the European parliament, the Commission, academia, press, media, and politicians – all weaving the web that conditions them to acclaim a system that has raised as virtues the denial of the Islamic threats and the renunciation of self-defense.  

The various agreements and policies within the scope of the Euro-Arab Dialogue have given priority to immigration from Muslim countries. They have furthermore prescribed Muslim-friendly cultural policies for the schools and universities of the EU, the diffusion and promotion of Islam and the Arabic language and culture, via the establishment of Arab cultural centres in European cities, and the promotion of Euro-Arab diplomacy in international forums, especially at the U.N. 

Mind Conditioning

What has received a great deal of attention in the interaction between the two parties is the development of policies independent (read opposed to) that of the U.S., support of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, including the legitimization of Arafat’s corrupt and violent regime, and the deligitimizing of the state of Israel.  

There is an emphasis on shaping public opinion through education and the media. For example, it has been agreed that Europeans dealing with Arab immigrants will undergo special sensitivity training; history textbooks are to be rewritten by joint teams of European and Arab historians; the teaching of Arabic language and Islamic culture in the European schools are to be taught by Arab teachers experienced in teaching Europeans. 

The astounding reality of such surrender by European authorities hits home all the harder if you note that very little is said about the need and methods for immigrants to learn and adapt to the ways of their new homelands. All the impetus is one way only. No wonder Bat Ye’or describes these one-sided arrangements as an abject surrender and a kind of suicide committed by the European leadership. 

One cannot help but wonder how it is possible that this lamentable state of affairs has come into being. There are of course many layers to this reality and all sorts of currents and counter currents are at work here. But I believe that the following all too-cryptic summary gets at an important truth. 

Europe, the once strong heartland of Western democracy, and the inheritor of the Judeo-Christian worldview, is no match for the aggressive, even fanatic branch of modern Islam beholden to a theocratic worldview that is fundamentally at odds with the historic Western tradition of freedom and democracy. 

Everything in this book is important, but I believe that the key to understanding this very complex story lies in what Bat Ye’or calls the conditioning of the minds. This is the reason that the Arabs have pushed very hard for demanding not only a place of honour and respect for Islam but one of superiority within European education and the media.  

Superiority Complex

At the Hamburg Symposium of he EAD held in April 1983, the German  minister of foreign affairs Hans-Dietrich Genscher spoke glowingly of Europe’s debt to Islamic civilization, a recurring theme at all such gatherings. The notion of moral superiority played a major role in the Arab-Israel conflict, ultimately leading to uncritical European support of the Palestinian cause. The same influence is at work in the prevailing anti-Americanism in the European media and academy that has had a powerful effect on public opinion. 

Most importantly, the Arab side of the EAD has pushed hard at convincing its European partners that the Islamic influence in the history of Europe is superior to that of the Judean-Christian tradition. This is how one of the sheiks in his address at the al-Haraam mosque in Mecca in February 2002 explained this to his audience: “The noblest civilization ever known to mankind is our Islamic civilization. Today, Western civilization is nothing more than the product of its encounter with our Islamic civilization in Andalusia [Spain under Islamic rule] and other places.”  

As far-fetched as such a statement is, it represents the attitude that is very much in evidence in the Euro-Arab network of alliances described in this book. And it goes a long way in explaining how a once self-confident and democratic centre of Western culture has entered a partnership that amounts to the betrayal of a sacred trust.

Those who want to get a better understanding of the forces shaping our world will be well served by Bat Ye’or’s diligent exploration of a subject many refuse to touch.