A quarter-century ago, author Bat Ye'or set out to debunk the myth that Jews and other non-Muslim minorities enjoyed a golden age of freedom while living in countries under the sway of Islam.
Her ground-breaking book, Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam, shined a spotlight on the plight of those who found themselves under Muslim rule. But after several other works that also focused on the concept of the dhimmi the word used by Muslims to describe those who lived as their legal inferiors the author has expanded her focus. (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)
For Ye'or (a pen name), the question is no longer one of correcting the historical record about supposed golden ages of interfaith relations. Writing at a time of resurgent Islamic fundamentalism that embraces the concept of jihad, she sees the dhimmis as no longer just the marginalized non-Muslims living in Arab countries. Her main concern today is how contemporary Europe is itself being transformed into a dhimmi nation.
THE FUTURE OF OLD EUROPE
The result of her work on this question is a new book, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, and those who wonder about the future of what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is fond of calling "old Europe" would do well to consult this dense, scholarly work.
A Jew who was born in Egypt and a subsequent immigrant to Britain, the author ultimately settled in Switzerland. From that vantage point, she has observed a sea change in European culture and politics, where anti-Semitism has gone mainstream and acquiescence to Islamic extremism is a given in foreign policy. Spend an hour talking about the situation with her, as I did this week, and you walk away with a grim vision of the future.
How did an Islamic world that was prostrate only a generation ago come to threaten the citadels of European culture?
Bat Ye'or starts her answer by pointing to the massive immigration from Asia and Africa that has created new demographic facts on the ground in Europe where, outside of the rapidly growing Muslim population, birth rates have declined precipitately.
But the crisis for Europe isn't just about the number of Muslim babies born there. For the historian, the trouble also lies in the way European elites have acquiesced to their nations' adoption of anti-American and anti-Israeli foreign policies.
"The intensity of Judeophobia in Europe reflects Islamic influence," she says, an accusation that is backed up by evidence she compiles about the massive influx of anti-Jewish hate literature into the West along with the immigrants.
In her view, this has led to a process that is bringing about nothing less than the creation of a "new civilization" she calls Eurabia, a new entity built upon a platform of advocacy for the Palestinians, anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism, where the values of democracy and individual rights are under threat.
The creation of Eurabia is the coming together of a number of diverse factors. Combine the persistence of hatred for Jews on the far right, the animus of the left for Israel and America, and a general refusal to see the rise of Islamism as a threat and what you get is a political and cultural snowball that is overwhelming the ability of the West to defend itself.
NOT AN ACCIDENT
The key point is that anti-Israel and anti-American strategies are not an accidental byproduct of the coming together of European and Arab elites.
Since the 1960s, the sacrifice of Israel has been a key to understanding the European Union's attitude toward the Arab world. Add to the mix traditional European resentment of the United States, and you have a recipe for appeasement of Arab demands not only on Israel, but on the fight against Islamic fundamentalism.
"The Arab-Israeli conflict itself has been kept alive by a European strategy as a tool against America and to advance their influence in the Arab world," asserts the author.
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Wrongly viewing Israel as the product of Europe's original sin of colonialism, rather than as the national liberation movement of the long-oppressed Jewish people, the continent's elites have "projected onto Israel all the evils of Europe."
Digging even deeper into the European psyche, Bat Ye'or sees a growing willingness to view European Christianity as more compatible with Islam than Judaism.
"This post Judeo-Christian Europe," she explains, is practicing an intellectual version of unilateral disarmament, pointing out that this has been promoted by official E.U. dialogue forums with Islamic thinkers.
As is the case here, academic institutions in Europe devoted to the study of Islam are soft-pedaling the threat. European intellectuals who are unwilling to stand up for Western values and who sneer at America's mission of bringing democracy to the Arab world are "abandoning resistance to jihad and dhimmitude," according to the author.
The inevitable result is a Europe that will, over the course of the next few decades, gradually fall more and more under the control of the Islamic world.
For Bat Ye'or, the only good news comes from the United States. She writes in her book's conclusion that America's policy toward the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and its war on Islamic terrorism has "crystallized within European societies an awareness and resistance of a policy of dhimmitude." An assertive America, undaunted by the siren song of European appeasement, has the chance to turn the tide of history.
Is she right?
It is possible to argue that the book pulls together a number of trends that are not necessarily related to one another. You could also point to the fact that European Muslims have a long way to go before they are kingmakers in Brussels, Paris, Berlin or London.
But in light of the astounding growth of anti-Semitism and the feeble response of European governments to Islamic violence and threats directed at critics of Islam; the insistence of European governments on a policy of appeasement rather than confrontation of Iran's nuclear weapons programs; as well as their attempts to undermine American efforts in Iraq; and the author's alarmism seems not only well founded, but long overdue.
The battle to reverse the conquest of Eurabia will not be easy, but it must begin with an acknowledgement of the problem.
Let's hope that Bat Ye'or's book is the first step on the road to victory.