FLASH -2 January 2015 January 2015 | publicatii - Politica La Est
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FLASH -2 January 2015 January 2015

Mihail E.Ionescu
 
The echoes of the Paris terrorist attacks of January 7 have not faded out and there is a slight chance they will any time soon. But, as we could see, in the meanwhile, international events have unfolded rapidly and other issues may take the public's attention away from the Charlie Hebdo massacre. For example, in the January 23-25 weekend, there was a sudden outburst of violence in Eastern Ukraine, with Mariupol coming under heavy artillery fire and 30 civilian casualties. There has been a swift international response, from George Soros and Bernard Henry-Levy  (Bernard-Henry Levy and George Soros , Save the New  Ukraine,    January 27, 2015- in  “The New York Times”- http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/27/opinion/bernard-henri-levi-george-soros-save-the-new-ukraine.html?ref=opinion&_r=2#story-continues-1story-continues-1 ), while Timothy Garton Ash ( Timothy Garton Ash,  Putin must be stopped. And sometimes only guns can stop guns, in “The Guardian”, February 1, 2015-http://www.theguardian.com/profile/timothygartonash ) has demanded that the „new Ukraine” not be abandoned. The US Congress has adopted a new law on military aid to Ukraine (including lethal military assistance), that now awaits president Obama's approval. The developing Ukraine crisis shows the volatility of the international system and the scenario of a war on the European continent is looking more and more likely.
According to most specialists, we are witnessing the third systemic wave. The first one, of the 60s and 70s: „ The first wave of modern terrorism featured well-established groups, political ideologies, and limited lethality, with Europe as the leading theater. From the 1960s to the 1980s (and in some places, well into the 1990s and beyond), Europe was plagued by spates of ideologically motivated terrorism, principally of the extreme left. Small groups such as the Baader-Meinhof gang in Germany, Action Directe in France, The Red Brigades in Italy, and November 17th in Greece targeted governments and individuals, and threatened the stability of societies across the continent. This was also the hey-day of terrorism as a tactic of national liberation movements, with the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine responsible for shootings, bombings, and hijackings. Their origins were Middle Eastern, but Europe was a principle theater for this type of terrorism, from the Munich Olympics to attacks on airports in Rome and elsewhere.” The second wave was marked by the multiple attack in the United States (New York and Washington) of September 11, 2001: „The hallmarks of this new form of terrorism included much higher lethality, religious motivation, networked organization, and the prominence of private sponsors. The roots of this new terrorism — potentially super terrorism using weapons of mass destruction — were in the Middle East, including the so-called Arab Afghans among the fighters operating in Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion. But, once again, the operational dimension was deeply rooted in Europe. The third wave of terrorism is the present-day one: „The latest, and third, phase of terrorism — an amalgam of Islamic extremism, cultural alienation, and nihilistic violence — will have its center of gravity in Europe. Poorly integrated Muslim communities and proximity to irregular conflicts in North Africa and the Levant are key elements in this equation. The “foreign fighter” problem is not new. Mediterranean countries, in particular, worried about the security implications of fighters returning from earlier wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the scale of the circulation linked to ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, and the networked nature of the challenge, are of a different order.” (Ian O.  Lesser, Europe at the Center of the Terrorist Vortex, Again, 03.02.2015, https://sites-gmf.vuturevx.com/85/762/february-2015/transatlantic-take--europe-at-the-center-of-the-terrorist-vortex--again.asp?sid=ab88d17e-1093-4bc1-838c-d263b13a8130 )
 
 
1.     What is the significance of the overused form of self-identification that went global after January 7, 2015: Je sui Charlie ? Here is an answer among many mentioned in international media after the terrorist attack: „Today a new cry can be heard among intellectuals in the US: ‘Je suis Charlie.’ It is a curious slogan, all the more so since few of the Americans reciting it had ever heard of, much less read, Charlie Hebdo before the 7 January massacre. What does it mean, exactly? Seen in the best light, it means simply that we abhor violence against people exercising their democratic right to express their views. But it may also be creating what the French would call an amalgame, or confusion, between Charlie Hebdo and the open society of the West. In this sense, the slogan ‘je suis Charlie’ is less an expression of outrage and sympathy than a declaration of allegiance, with the implication that those who aren’t Charlie Hebdo are on the other side, with the killers, with the Islamic enemy that threatens life in the modern, democratic West, both from outside and from within. „ The author of this interesting essay delves even deeper, in search of moral clarity: “. The slogan ‘je suis Charlie’ expresses a peculiar nostalgia for 11 September, for the moment before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, before Abu Ghraib and extraordinary rendition, before all the things that did so much to tarnish America’s image and to muddy the battle lines. In saying ‘je suis Charlie’, we can feel innocent again. Thanks to the massacre in Paris, we can forget the Senate torture report, and rally in defence of the West in good conscience.  “ Moreover, the author states that it is necessary that we admit the truth that the terrorists from the France attacks were French citizens, second-generation immigrants, educated within Western civilization, and these facts should not be hidden behind self-identification slogans meant to diminish our critical spirit and especially the responsability we have for what happened:  “To say that France has an integration problem, and that it’s in urgent need of repair, isn’t to let the killers – or, pace Packer, their ideology – off the hook. It is to take the full measure of the moral and political challenge at hand, rather than to indulge in self-congratulatory exercises in ‘moral clarity’. If France continues to treat French men of North African origin as if they were a threat to ‘our’ civilisation, more of them are likely to declare themselves a threat, and follow the example of the Kouachi brothers. This would be a gift both to Marine Le Pen and the jihadists, who operate from the same premise: that there is an apocalyptic war between Europe and Islam. We are far from that war, but the events of 7 January have brought us a little closer. “ (See Adam Shatz, Moral Clarity, ‘London Review of Books Blog’, 9 January 2015-http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2015/01/09/adam-shatz/moral-clarity/)
 
2.     Here are some of the comments regarding the aforementioned essay, that are highly relevant for the trends in public opinion:
 
a.  Peter Fisher says:
10 January 2015 at 9:08 am
“I also find it hard to extract an argument from this article. It seems to boil down to: yes this is awful, BUT there is a serious problem in France with the integration of second and third generation immigrants. Both parts of that statement are self-evidently true, but they don’t belong in the same sentence, any more than when we discuss a rape or a murder we should immediately bring societal ills into the spotlight. If it sounds like the author is making excuses for individual acts, then that is because he is, passing the blame onto society as a whole. As an argument, it has about as much merit as pointing out that a rape victim shouldn’t have been wearing the clothes she had on.
There is nothing morally unclear about killing journalists or shooting up a kosher supermarket, and these crimes should not form the basis for scoring political points about integration in France. In seeking to link the two, the author is parroting Marine le Pen, who also thinks this is a good basis on which to conduct the debate on immigration.
I resent that op-ed authors and politicians immediately want to bring this attack into their analysis of a broader context, whether to say that France is a racist country and had it coming, or to declare a “war” on radical islam. In the face of a crime, any crime, the correct action is to deplore it, punish it, hold fast to our values of tolerance and the rule of law, and get on with our lives. Mature politicians and analysts don’t base their discourse on individual acts of violence, and they don’t seek excuses for criminals who acted of their own free will. The author should be able to maintain a distinction between the individual case and the societal ill.”
 
b. Timothy Mason says:
10 January 2015 at 7:32 am
An excellent article.
As a French citizen, I was myself first reluctant to use the slogan “Je suis Charlie”. To some extent I still am. But I have to recognize that Charlie Hebdo was an important part of my life at the time when I was coming to discover French culture. And, moreover, that the men who died were still at the very centre of that culture, however peripheral the magazine had become. Cabu, & Wolinski were household names, and had an impact far beyond Charlie’s readership (Cabu used to appear regularly on children’s television when my two were growing up in the late 70s & early 80s). If you followed Wolinski’s work through the same period, you were witnessing a man, like so many others, coming to terms with feminism, and attempting to learn its lessons. And Bernard Maris, friend to Michel Houllebecq, was a recognized expert in economics, who was a member of the committee of direction of the Banque de France, was also far more than a simple journalist for a bizarre little publication of declining importance.

So most French people can recognize a part of themselves in Charlie Hebdo, and many of them will have felt directly touched, as I did. If they were not overcome by the media brouhaha, they could also see in their assassins some echoes of La Bande à Bonnot, or of Jacques Mesrine. The two brothers may have killed in the name of Islam, but they were recognizably French.
So, yes, that Americans or the British should say “Je suis Charlie” is bleakly comic. But the French – we – can say it. Yes, Charlie is a part of me – a part I had largely forgotten, a part that was not altogether agreeable, but a part, nonetheless.
 
c. alethia says:
10 January 2015 at 3:12 am
This is rubbish. Sad that Adam Shatz’s lesson after 13 long years is that it’s still our western fault. The people who perpetrate these crimes own them. They are personally responsible and no search for “root causes” can excuse that fact. No one welcomed immigrant Jews to New York (my ancestors) and made it “nice” for us. They worked hard and fit in. These men are treated the way they are because they have earned it: they did not fit in and they chose to their actions.
Since before 9/11 we’ve been at war. In war you make mistakes like Abu Grahib and torture. These mistakes do not abrogate Islamist responsibility for their own actions nor for the actions of Algerian thugs looking for glory as Jihadis.
Trying to pin their familial failure to adjust after years of European multiculturalism and bending over backwards is the true cowardice of western liberals like Adam Shatz. Despicable.

 
d. stanly says:
13 January 2015 at 12:25 pm
I share Adam Shatz’ views on the vulnerability and otherness of North Africans/Muslims in France. I do also agree that charlie Hedbo’s cartoons were politically incorrect. But what I fail to understand, even from the article above, is that why the violence against the magazine? There could have been legal cases, argumentative responses, even protests through democratic means. But what did the Kouachi brothers drive towards violence? or take India for an example. The Dalits (untouchables) in India have been subjected to centuries of social discrimination. They are the “other” in this vast country, which happens to be the world’s largest democracy. But dalits’ response towards this structural injustice has hardly been violent. They are fighting it by mobilising social capital through democratic means. So otherness or cultural or economic deprivation should not always lead to violence. This is where the ideology of the attackers matters. As Shatz rightly points out, the social causes of any form of violence should certainly be analysed. But such analyses should not discount the subjectivity of the ideology the attackers– a tendency predominantly seen among liberals and post-modernists.
3.     So what can be done to put an end to this third wave of terrorism? It is quite obvious that this response should involve a variety of methods, from militarily eliminating Jihadi training camps and changing states already in their sphere of influence (especially in the Middle East, in South Asia or other parts of the globe) or what they are trying to build ( ‘the Islamic caliphate’); rethinking the integration process in the European states that have large Muslim communities, reshaping the immigration trends from South to North in order to maintain the necessary cultural and political balance; tailoring the education for the ones that may be lured towards a Jihadist environment.
4. Here is a suggestion, among many others : The terrorists who murdered 17    people, including         8 staff members of the French weekly satirical     magazine Charlie Hebdo, falsely    claimed to act in the name of Islam. On the contrary, the perpetrators represent a      fanaticism that would    stifle freedoms and science in the Arab and Islamic world, and      beyond. The means used in the eighteenth century remain among the best          options to      combat this warped world view today. Free scientific thinking         and satire — both      religious and political — are crucial in challenging     and undermining dogma and      authoritarianism. “ Obviously, this suggestion comes from a scientific background, as the aforementioned suggestion is ‘diluted’: “Scientists and satirists everywhere must   remain vigilant to protect liberties, and to fight obscurantism in any      form. Social science and other research is needed to better understand the     origins of    violent fanaticism, conflict and intercommunal strife.   Tackling terrorism is about     much more than repressive measures. It     demands long-term political and social     initiatives, and policies to        help to address the root causes. The heritage of Voltaire and    the     Enlightenment explains why the French people have reacted much more    strongly      to the latest attacks than to the many acts of terrorism they          have endured in the past.        The terrorists attacked a symbol of the   right to free expression. Free speech does have    its limits, and many      countries rightly impose laws that, for example, outlaw the    incitement   of religious or racial hatred. But the right to criticize, and even to mock, religion, fanaticism, superstition and indeed science is not only rightly    protected by         law in France, but is enshrined there, as in many      countries, as a fundamental human right.“ ( Vezi: Science and satire, ‘Nature    ‘ International Journal of Science, 13 January           2015-       http://www.nature.com/news/science-and-satire-1.16703 )
5.     Here are two comments regardind the aforementioned article:
a. Gregory A. Petsko • 2015-01-16 10:56 PM
I agree, of course, and will defend free speech to my last breath, but I think this specific case deserves further examination. Satire is best employed as the weapon of the powerless against the powerful (or when the satirists and their targets are on a roughly equal footing). The historical cases you cite are examples of exactly that use. This case is not. Muslims are downtrodden and often discriminated against in France, and to satirize their religion is more a case of the powerful making fun of the weak. While I would never seek to prohibit that, I think it is in poor taste. It would not be hard to imagine circumstances - and countries - in which the same action would be a potent weapon against oppression. I think the journalists probably felt they were doing that. But in view of the situation of Muslims in France, I don't think it quite works.
b. Osvaldo Moreschi • 2015-01-15 02:58 PM
It is clear that any kind of terrorism is an assault to the very constitution of a society, and therefore it must be condemned. But this note intends also to say that satire can be compared with the values gain from science, and also that is useful in a "free and democratic societies". From science we know that there is just one manifestation of life on this planet; that all plants and animals, including ourselves, share the same genetic code; that all humans are biologically indistinguishable from each other; therefore it induces us to think that it is absurd that one person should have authority on the thoughts of another, on the contrary it teaches us to respect one another. From science we also know that even in systems as simple as natural numbers there are statements that one can not prove whether they are true or false; so that in a complex society with the best legal system one will also find actions which one would not be able to prove if they are good or bad. Is satire good or bad? Probably it is easier to answer: Is it useful for the intend of building an stable an peaceful society? Why the freedom of A must be understood that A is allowed to insult B? Is this good or bad? Science accustom us to use numbers and the notion of probability. With numbers it is estimated that there is a Muslim community between 5 to 6 millions living in metropolitan France in 2010. With the notion of probability one could estimate the probability that two of them could not stand the insult to their religion. Although we all share the pain of the killing I do not think is the opportunity to intend to give good values to satire. In fact it is probably an opportunity to think again in the usefulness of using insults as a way to express our thoughts.
 
6.     As reported by international media, the protest group Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA) has organized rallies in Dresden both before and after the Paris terrorist attacks. This movement may spread to other large urban areas in Germany and perhaps even to other countries, such as Austria. They have an anti-immigration, anti-integrationist agenda and the solution seems to be assimilation. German officials, including chancellor Merkel, have taken a firm stance against a possible escalation of such manifestations. But what does PEGIDA really stand for: “Although PEGIDA offshoots have formed across Germany, the movement has failed to gain a similar following in other cities. What makes Dresden unique is its geography and political culture. During communist times, the area around the city was known as the valley of the clueless’ because West German TV signals couldn’t reach it. On the other hand, Dresden was one of the cities where peaceful protesters went out on the street in 1989, helping to bring down the communist regime in the so-called Montagsdemonstrationen – Monday demonstrations.“ Among the characteristics of  PEGIDA there is not only a post-Communist social inertia, but also a frustration towards a prolonged transition in the East towards the capitalism promised by the West 25 years ago: Having undergone the transition from communism, eastern Germans are more skeptical about the country’s political order than western Germans, who take it for granted. The PEGIDA organizers are all disillusioned supporters of the country’s big center-right parties, the Christian Democrats and the Free Democrats, Oertel said. Now many of them are voting for the upstart AfD, which held talks with PEGIDA last week.’It’s silly to talk about cooperation with other parties. We see ourselves as a citizen movement. We only want to address the concerns of the people and convey them to politicians, Jahn’/ one of the participants to the demonstrations / said. ‚We’re not megalomaniacs. It’s clear we won’t sit down at one table with Merkel.’ “(http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/01/14/germanys-pegida-isnt-a-vladimir-putin-plot-the-truth-is-scarier/  )
 
         7. The rise of antisemitism in Europe need not be proven, although we must never underestimate the force of impact the repetition of a tragic past may have. Even the Paris terrorist attacks happened in a context in which antisemitism  holds new connotations. Some sociologists talk about a new form of European antisemitism, naming it  Judeophobia, meaning a mix of traditional/visceral hatred towards Jews and anti-zionism and the desire to punish the „Big Jew”, embodied by Israel. „Pierre-André Taguieff prefers not to talk of old style antisemitism. He believes that what he calls a new ‘Judeophobia’, a mix of archaic prejudices and anti-Zionism, is thriving in the midst of        widespread indifference and    no longer arouses real indignation.„ writes The Guardian on January 15 (http://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/jan/15/-       sp-    threat-to-france-jews#img-4 ) The article from The Guardian compelingly paints the picture of antisemitism/judeophobia from present-day France: „    ‘Today,       in a situation of deep     economic crisis, the Sciences Po academic Nonna Mayer told me,     ‘among people who don’t have a degree or a job there is an enormous    resentment against society, and a tendency to make Jews the scapegoat,   because Jews are the minority that is seen as successful. ‘Jews have   money, Jews have power’ –     these stereotypes work very well. And the   Israeli-Palestinian conflict adds an extra   layer.’ There is a growing turf         war, particularly around the Buttes Chaumont, between        Jewish and          Muslim gangs. People whose parents used to play cards together now find        themselves pitted against each other. In a shockingly under-reported      attack in 2003,     the Jewish DJ Sebastian Sellam had his throat slit and    his eyes gouged out by a         childhood friend and neighbour, a petty criminal     and drug dealer called Adel    Amastaibou, in the underground car park      of their apartment building in Paris’s 10th          arrondissement. According to          Amastaibou’s mother, after the murder he ran upstairs          to the apartment    shared and shouted, ‘I killed a Jew! Now I will go to heaven!’          When the police arrived he told them, ‘It was what Allah demanded.’         Amastaibou          claimed diminished responsibility, and he has never been   tried; he remains in a     psychiatric hospital in Paris, permitted out for          occasional weekends.”
 
In Europe, France has the largest community of French citizens of Jewish origin, over 500,000, and many have expressed their wish to emmigrate to Israel. The phenomenon is not seen only in France, but in Great Britain as also: “A quarter of Jews in Britain have considered leaving the country in the last two years and well over half feel they have no long term future in Europe, according to a survey published on Wendnesday/January 14“                      
(See http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/14/uk-    britain-       jews-idUKKBN0KN0LZ20150114 )
 
3 February 2015
 

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