Silver Lining, Maybe?

Silver Lining, Maybe?

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

In reviewing the tragic events of last week in Paris, it is conceivable that if they play their cards well, Israel, Jews, and the fight against anti-Semitism might all end up benefitting as result of this tragedy. If the West can sustain its focus and concern about the world-wide threat posed by radical Islam; if the West can continue to appreciate the actual breadth and scope of the threat posed by Muslim extremists; if the West can accept the fact that these are some of the precise conditions under which Israel lives and has lived; and if the West can continue to walk the very thin line between free speech and national security; then addressing the Islamic State in Syria, the true character of both Hezbollah and Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Iran nuclear threat, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may all undergo a major evaluation.  

Some signs already have emerged over the past few days which suggest that at least some of the European Governments are viewing their own future stability to be at stake.  They seem to be reacting to the extremist threats in a pro-active and aggressive manner. Certainly the actions taken yesterday by the Belgium police to invade threatening terrorist cells as well the round-ups by the French police of additional potential accomplices of last week’s terrorists, as well as a newly aggressive attitude on the party of British police against potential terrorists, suggests a shift in Governments’ polices. On a more global level, there is an apparent recognition by the West of the dangers proliferating in Africa of the radical Islamic Boko Haram suggesting that Western support for Nigerian efforts to eliminate this threat are growing.

On a verbal level the repeated denunciation of anti-Semitism by the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls persists. He has also equated anti-Zionism as being nothing more than another form of anti-Semitism. Whether his rhetoric will have a dramatic effect on the public and other decision-makers remains to be seen, but it does suggest a shift at a very high level in France.  

It is very early to draw any serious conclusions, but there is some movement suggesting that passivity and/or political correctness will not eliminate the more deep rooted threat posed by radical Islam.  It is also too soon to see if there are indeed progressive voices genuinely emerging within Islam ready to denounce and challenge consistently the threat posed by the radicals. It behooves Jews throughout the world as well as Israel politicians to let this shift—if there indeed is one—to evolve on its own.  

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