Wednesday 27 April 2016

Never Again, Fear and Faith in Paris

I meant to watch “Never Again. Fear and Faith in Paris” last night, but unfortunately  I fell asleep.  

It started promisingly. The first part included rather sympathetic treatment of the current wave of antisemitism in France, seen from the perspective of French Jews.

Mother and daughter. Fearful in Paris

Professor Andrew Hussey, author of “The French Intifada” was featured as the film’s resident expert.

I hadn’t heard of Prof. Hussey so I searched for a few reviews of his book. The Guardian’s critic David A Bell, didn’t seem too keen. For example, here:

“.........Hussey has written so carelessly, and in so needlessly inflammatory a manner. He repeatedly makes large, highly questionable generalisations without anything resembling evidence. "For most French people," he asserts, "Tunisians … had the same supposed racial and cultural defects of all North Africans, ranging from stupidity, criminality and a taste for violence." Most French people? How does he know?

and also here:

More serious a problem is his inflammatory style when discussing violence. It is unfortunate, to say the least, that when he describes violence committed by the French, he mostly gives quick, summary accounts, but when he turns to violence committed by Muslims, he cannot resist lurid detail.

One passage seemed out of kilter with the default Guardianista view:
So focused is Hussey on the legacy of colonialism that he pays little systematic attention to what is, in fact, one of the book's most striking and disturbing themes: Muslim antisemitism. As he notes, hatred of Jews now runs deep in Muslim populations, including in France and North Africa. In France, the worst examples of individual violence committed by alienated Muslim youth have been against Jews, notably the torture and killing of the mobile phone salesman Ilan Halimi outside Paris in 2006, and the shooting of four Jews, including three children, in front of a Hebrew school in Toulouse in 2012.

However, Bell continues in a more predictable fashion:
The role of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the formation of contemporary Muslim identities, and the way that Jews have come to stand, in much of the Muslim world, for the worst tendencies of the "west", and even of modernity, deserve more analysis than Hussey provides.

So, although this particular critique largely follows the Guardian’s default position, it deviates a little, actually mentioning “Muslim antisemitism” but swiftly reverts to type in implying that this is primarily attributable to “Israel”. 

The Telegraph’s review by Rupert Edis makes no mention of antisemitism whatsoever. Although the term 'Intifada' is usually associated with violent Palestinian uprisings against Israelis, here the “French” intifada is interpreted solely as an uprising against French society by Muslim immigrants, (mostly) from Algeria. 

Hussey blames France’s tortured relations with “its” Arabs on its colonial history in the Maghreb, which started in earnest with the invasion of Algeria in 1830.”
The Telegraph critic describes Hussey as a regular contributor to the Guardian and the New Statesman.
With this provocatively titled book, he joins the increasing number of respected authors from the liberal Left who are shocked at some of the effects of mass non-European immigration on Western European countries and cultures.”

So, that’s sort of where Prof Hussey is coming from. I imagine his views have influenced the filmmakers.

At the start of this film, Hussey addresses antisemitism, as does the female narrator, who pronounces antisemitic “anti-semetic” throughout. Emetic: (“causes vomiting”.)
We’re told that many French Jews have left France for Israel; others came to London, initially intending to return to their beloved France, but due to ever increasing antisemitism, currently plan to stay in the UK.

“Antisemitism used to come from the far right, but now it’s coming from a different group, a small minority of French Muslims” 
said the narrator. 

The footage turned to images of impoverished suburban neighbourhoods, the Banlieues, mostly populated by Muslim immigrants, There are ‘no jobs’ and no hope.
“Radical Islam offers you a way out” 
says Hussey. 
The film now appears to be accusing French secularism of driving Muslims towards extremism. Antisemitism within Islam is mentioned in passing, but played down, as in this passage:
 “Muslim extremists recruiting in the suburbs often use derogatory passages from the Koran” 
says the narrator, 
“out of context, most Muslims would say, to further their own anti-semetic (sic) ideology” 

Professor Andrew Hussey

“It’s conflation of the Israel-Palestine conflict, but it’s also conflation of that old historical shibboleth - the conspiracy theory - that the Jews control everything.” 
says Hussey 
“They need someone to blame”.

In London, Jonathan Sacerdoti recounts incidents of anti-Jew ‘hate’. 

"Unlike French schools", the narrator continues, "UK schools teach children about religion, all faiths, to improve understanding. " (This could not happen in France because of its secularism.)

To illustrate the correct approach to multiculturalism and diversity - you couldn’t make it up - we’re off to Bradford. 
Bradford has worked hard to promote interfaith understanding. A class of Muslim children are shown visiting a Hindu temple. 
“They’re learning about diversity” says the Hindu lady. 
Prof. Hussey suggests the answer to this difficult problem lies in interfaith understanding, though he realises this hasn’t quite worked so far.

In Bradford Jewish numbers have dwindled down to nearly nothing, we learn, but we’re reassured by the fact that some Muslims have donated funds to repair the synagogue roof, and even better, a prominent Muslim is on the synagogue council. 

The blurb on the website mentions Lassana Bathily, 
We hear from the families most affected and explore the reasons behind the rise in anti-Semitism. With insight from those who live in the notorious Paris suburbs, often accused of being a breeding ground for anti-Semitism, and from Lassana Bathily, a Muslim from the suburbs who saved Jewish lives during the kosher supermarket attack in 2015. “  
which puts a somewhat positive spin on the fact that Bathily didn’t actually assist the terrorists, as the filmmakers might (patronisingly) assume your average black Muslim would be culturally inclined to do.

A rosy picture of Bradford, and a moving picture of antisemitism in France which studiously avoids the core issue. The antisemitism that is part and parcel of Islam.


  1. Well worth reading

  2. “Antisemitism used to come from the far right, but now it’s coming from a different group, a small minority of French Muslims”

    said the Narrative.

    If the BBC can be dishonest about this major point, the rest of this cannot be trusted either. I assume they didn't show the footage of Tim Willcox advocating for the idea that it's understandable for Jews everywhere to suffer for the sins of Israel.

    There will be a flood of Complaints From Both Sides on this one, especially from the side angry at the BBC for being Zionist shill and claiming that the idea that Jews control everything is merely and historical shibboleth.

  3. There were so many things to object to in this programme whose executive producer was Aqil Ahmed BBC's Head of Religious Affairs or some such title) who has been banging the drum for opening the doors to Muslim immigration to the UK, with no checks, let us remember in a number of programmes.

    My main objections was that:

    (a)It offered no debate, only the BBC received version, "Multiculturalism is good and more multiculturalism is even better." No one was allowed to defend French secularism.

    (b) It offered no analysis of "anti-semitism". To be anti-semitic, in the literal sense, is virtually impossible for a Muslim (although Iranians come close sometimes) since Islam is an Arab supremacist ideology and Arabs are semites. Really, there needed to be a distinction made between the 19th/20th century racial anti-semitism and the much more ancient Jew hatred (which is a kind of sub-branch of Kaffir hatred) found in the Koran, and which is more like the traditional hatred of Jews found in Catholicism, which provided a platform for racial anti-semitism in Europe.

    (c) There was no evidence basis for the assertions. How many interrupted terror plots have there been in the UK? Already 100s I believe. What is the situation in France? Just because they have had some recent attacks doesn't mean they have had more plots - it might just mean the security services are inefficient.

    Then there was that mispronunciation ("anti-semEtic" - perhaps having to say all this stuff was literally making the presenter Munchetty sick, but whatever happened to professional standards - we all heard it so why didn't they?).


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