In France, Holland, Belgium, Great Britain, the United States and especially Germany a wave of books deals with the “Islamization” of Europe. Many of these books rely heavily on ‘Eurabia’, a study written by Bat Ye’or, an alias of Gisèle Littman, a Jewish woman born in Egypt and expelled with her family in 1957.
Although the book was published by an American university’s publishing house, it is a unscientific work of propaganda. Already in the first paragraph the reader is confronted with a series of hysterical questions: ‘Why have generations of Europeans been taught in universities to despise America and harbor an implacable hatred for Israel? Why has the European Union proposed a Constitution that willingly renounces and even denies its Judeo-Christian roots? Has the… World War II alliance of Arab jihadists with European Nazis and fascist trends been resurrected today? Is the European Union’s covert war against Israel, through its Palestinian Arab allies, the secret… fulfillment of an interrupted Holocaust?’
‘Eurabia’ might be clearly a book to save especially Israel from ‘Islamization’ Palestinian style but its pseudoscience has been embraced by European ideologues (including the infamous Norwegian Breivik) who think their own country should be saved from Muslim immigration and from the European Union. Here Israeli and European nationalisms have mixed in a new way. While Israel would need European support in the coming decades to survive the absence of a serious peace deal with the Palestinians, Europe doesn’t need Israel to defend it against any Muslim territorial ambitions, especially if the Arab Spring continues its democratization drive. The ultimate aim of the ‘Eurabia’ book is to help Israel and Littman seems to believe that this can be done by changing European perceptions of Israel, from a war-prone religious state into defender of the West’s most southern frontier against the next Muslim onslaught.
The wave of books warning for the Islamization of Europe came up already before Al-Qaeda’s attacks on America. In the beginning the books published in Europe seemed to be the logical result of a growing presence of Muslim immigrants in Europe since the 1960’s. This presence led to a series of legal and social problems, and to questions about what national governments should do: promote for their Muslim citizens full integration, adaptation or assimilation. Similar questions were raised by something very different: the continuous erosion of sovereignty of states as promoted by the European Union. States were loosing their power not only to set the rules for immigration but also set the rules for their national economy, food production, environmental projects and in whatever area of life the Union could interfere. Social movements against immigration nowadays usually are also against the growing powers of the European Union and against economic or cultural globalization.
Obligation to go to war
The ‘war on terrorism’ after the 9/11 attacks acerbated the perceived problems with Muslim citizens. Added to the question of how many immigrants learned the local language, let their girls go to school or were working instead of relying on social benefits, was the question how many of them actually approved terrorism or were ready to join terrorist groups.
In the book ‘Eurabia’ this last question – a question typically leading to constantly changing answers as years go by – has been brilliantly turned into a historical question with a historical answer. Gisèle Littman writes that Islam in general, the Koran and the Sharia force oblige, push Muslims to conquer other nations. There is no escape from the duty of jihad, from conquest, she writes. She agrees that jihad can be pursued ‘by military means or peaceful methods – propaganda, speech, or subversive activities – within a non-Muslim nation’.
Governments of Muslim countries must also execute this divine jihad policy, as a religious duty. Littman writes: ‘Wherever the ideology of jihad and its precepts have not been rejected, Muslims relate to non-Muslims within its conceptual framework… The “enemies” are those who oppose the establishment of Islamic law, or its spread, mission or sovereignty over their lands. The world of infidels is considered as one entity, called dar al-harb, the region of war – until, through jihad, it comes under Islamic rule. The hostilities between the region of Islam (dar al-islam) and the region of war (dar al-harb) must continue as long as unbelief exists.’ Littman explains there is a third category of countries that live in ‘the land of temporary truce’, dar al-sulh, but these infidels ‘are in a situation of respite between two wars, since, in principle, the truce with infidels cannot exceed ten years, after which jihad must resume’.
According to Littman, Arab governments have been spectacularly successful with their jihad in Europe, blackmailing European countries with the oil weapon and ‘conquering’ their culture by the introduction of more and more Islamic rules and values, the promotion of a rosy view of the Islamic conquest in Spain when religious minorities were allegedly living happily together, and last but not least the promotion of big families, so that in a few decades Muslims would become, demographically speaking, the majority in Europe.
The first immigration waves
The immigration of Arabs, Turks, Kurds and Moroccan Berbers in Europe started off as the work of western recruitment companies and their governments. Of course some Muslim countries were happy to dump their unemployed in Europe and receive back some of their earnings, but it would be a gross falsification of events to claim that these countries started the export of their workers. In the 1950s and 1960s, during the last stage of the post-war economic boom, countries such as Germany, France and Holland were faced with serious labor shortages, especially in agriculture as a consequence of the ‘escape from the countryside’. Holland almost had no unemployment in the 1960s and in this rigid labor market workers grabbed their chance to push wages up. In the beginning the companies tried to solve their expansion needs with import of Spanish, Greek and Italian workers but the numbers were not enough and neither was their docility. Sweden wanted to expand its economy through immigration and attract foreign workers for its vast array of internationally active companies, whose growth was limited by the small Swedish population. In the end Sweden opted for a generous policy towards political refugees to help itself.
In the same time France continued its unique population policy. France had known bad years already before World War II, when not enough babies were born to offset deaths. For certain French politicians this was at the time particularly worrying as they thought France should have a population at least equal to that of bigger arch enemy Germany. After the war, the French state began a policy to help young families and it remained generous with giving French nationality to every baby born on French soil. Another important immigration factor was the arrival in Europe, especially in Germany, of millions of refugees lost in the confusion of World War II. The division of Europe in a liberal and communist zone created other waves, to which was added, especially in Holland, Britain, Belgium and France, massive immigration from former colonies that gained independence.
In her book ‘Eurabia’ Gisèle Littman ignores these beginnings of mass immigration of Muslims to European countries since 1945. She prefers to let it begin with the creation of the Euro-Arab Dialogue group in 1973 – ironically the same year that saw the first measures in Germany against further recruitment of immigrants, especially Turks (the ‘Türkenstopp’). Littman everywhere ignores such measures, as if they are less important then documents of an organization almost nobody heard of until Mrs. Littman made it seem important.
The Euro-Arab Dialogue ‘group’ (EAD) consisted of French president Georges Pompidou and Libyan officials, supported that same year by West German Chancellor Willy Brandt. The group has never spoken to the imagination of Europeans. Ever since president Charles De Gaulle’s vain efforts to keep up the image of France as a superpower, the French have excelled in creating powerless, ineffective organizations that were meant to keep influence over its former colonies on the Mediterranean. The French did manage to keep these countries as markets for their products, but the Euro-Arab Dialogue never became a kind of OPEC for the Islamization of European culture and education, as Littman tries to sell it. A British study published in 1983, ‘Islam in Foreign Policy’, had trouble finding examples of religious diplomacy by Muslim states (except of course Saudi Arabia) and even had one chapter on ‘The Absence of Islam in Moroccan Foreign Policy’.
Initiatives in European culture and education to improve and expand the study of Arabic, Arab societies and Muslim history were mostly bottom-up actions from people inside Europe. Saudi Arabia was the big exception among Arab countries, as it worked on conservative projects in Europe and put billions of dollars into them: building mosques for immigrants and sponsoring European linguists, historians and other scientists to organize Muslim-friendly conferences, exhibitions and publications. It is actually a gotspe that Littman hardly mentions the campaigns of the Saudis – probably to protect the image of the United States as an enemy of Arab dictators – while she never tires of mentioning much less interventionist Arab countries.
If one reads ‘Eurabia’ closely, the reader will discover an absence of sources, notes and facts when it comes to prove the EAD’s alleged successes. It is one thing to quote documents full of noble plans and slogans but another thing to prove that intentions materialized. In fact Littman shows that years after certain declarations were made the same plans and intentions are repeated in next declarations because not much happened. Where are the news clippings, academic studies or documents proving that the EAD’s ‘educational and cultural programs were introduced ‘into European schools’ (into how many? five or fifty-thousand?) and ‘wholeheartedly embraced, applied and monitored by European leaders, intellectuals, and activists’ (a tiny minority, some, many, who exactly?).
So, why this alleged beginning of Europe’s Islamization in 1973? The year 1973 did become a watershed year for Israel when it nearly lost the war with Egypt at that time. So, it’s logical that the most important thing about the Euro-Arab Dialogue group in 1973 was its being ‘anti-Israel’ in Littman’s view. It must be said that Littman defines all criticism of Israel and the defense of Palestinian rights, support for a two-state solution and every resolution concerning Israel coming from the United Nations Security Council as ‘anti-Israel’ . She also repeatedly equals all criticism of Israel as just hidden anti-Semitism.
There is not a gram of understanding in Littman’s book for shifts in Europe’s policies towards the southern and eastern sides of the Mediterranean, not even after the wars between Israel and its Arab neighbors in 1967 and 1973 had set the stage for terrorist action inside Europe by Palestinian groups and a boycott by Arab oil states of European countries that were helping Israel. In 1973 and 1974 most Arab countries also nationalized their oil industry. The Middle East was in such turmoil that events soon led to policies to reduce America’s and Europe’s dependence on oil and gas from Arab sources. European electricity producers switched to coal, gas and nuclear power. Oil and gas production in the North Sea near Britain, Norway and Holland grew exponentially. Heat isolation technology was introduced to tens of millions of homes. Cars were developed that used 1 liter of fuel for 25 km instead of 1 liter for only 6 to 10 km – not exactly the ‘giving in to Arab blackmail’ that Littman sees all the time. One could just as well prove that after 1973 European policies became more aggressive against Arab and Muslim countries. In fact NATO, still busy with the Cold War in 1973, developed a new separate vision on how these non-communist Arab countries could threaten Europe and American interests in Europe and in the Middle East. NATO’s fears culminated already by the end of the 1970’s in the American and European dislike of the Iranian Revolution, problematic relations with Turkey, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria – and not to forget endless criticism of the lack of respect for human rights in Muslim states including labor-exporting countries such as Turkey and Morocco. Nevertheless Littman defines the European Community (the forerunner of the European Union) as ‘an instrument of Arab policy’ since 1973. ‘Europe was giving its tacit approval to the 1964 PLO Charter that called for the destruction of Israel.’
For Littman, criticizing whatever American policies boils down to general, stupid anti-Americanism. People born after 1973 can be forgiven if they don’t know how strong this criticism was, because of the war in Vietnam, American interventions in South America (Chili, Guatemala), the international arms race that threatened to ignite a global nuclear war, support for dictators such as the Shah of Iran and other Cold War events. But Littman, now in her sixties, ignores this too, celebrating the United States as a staunch defender of its Jewish-Christian roots and of democracy. This denial is of course necessary if a writer wants to suggest that anti-Americanism is just the result of hatred against Israel and leftist propaganda in universities. Littman also needs to gloss over the intimate relations between Saudi Arabia and successive American governments. America might have as many Muslims as Europe, who are divided along their original nationality, political preferences and religious currents, nevertheless former president George W. Bush would always give the White House guests list for some all-Muslim event to the Saudi embassy in Washington, in order to get its advice, ignoring that many American Muslims didn’t and don’t identify with Saudi Wahhabism. One can ask what’s the difference in America’s and Europe’s Realpolitik in foreign affairs.
The propagandistic aims and blind spots of Littman become dangerous and sometimes outright ridiculous when she describes immigration policies in Europe. Completely contrary to what is known about the historical realities of the 1960s and 1970s Littman bluntly claims that Muslim immigrants ‘came with no intention of integrating into European society and culture. Instead, they arrived with the desire and legal right, granted by the European Community itself, to impose their own culture upon the host country.’ ‘Arab states and their European lobbies… planned an implantation of homogeneous ethnic communities which in two decades would number millions.’
Not mentioned are the growing number of laws in European countries limiting immigration. Best known perhaps are the ‘Pasqua laws’ in France (1986) that cancelled decades of easy immigration policies and that were named after Minister of Interior Charles Pasqua. Since the 1980’s visa requirements for many European countries have become so severe that they became the delight of smugglers networks, leaving the majority of immigrants with no other choice than to apply for political asylum. Asylum was often the only door left to cross a European border, if one couldn’t use the internationally protected right to be with one’s family and reunite with wife and children.
Littman neither mentions the hundreds of educational, social and cultural initiatives in Europe to help Muslim immigrants adapt or integrate – or force them to do so. Studies showing the wide degree of integration of Muslim immigrants in some European countries are mentioned neither. Nor does she mention the massive intermarrying (between Muslims and Europeans) and low birth rates that have become the rule among Muslim immigrants. All such kinds of facts simply don’t fit her story.
There are no ‘homogeneous ethnic communities’ in Europe, that has become as much a ‘melting pot’ as America – besides that Europe was already a melting pot before America was even invented. After 9/11, civil rights of all people living in Europe have even been curtailed to deal with threats such as Al-Qaeda – but Littman prefers to write that European leaders have “aligned themselves” with political terrorism.
Gisele Littman is unwilling to recognize that the Arab world lost Muslim principles and values – including enthusiasm to start the next jihad – after its military defeats in Europe (the loss of Al-Andalus in Spain, the Turks’ conquest stopped near Vienna). Later on came the colonization that forced Muslims to develop Sharia law only in the realm of family law and relations between men and women, not in the political or economic field. Wars of independence and the modernization of Arab states clearly introduced, instead of jihad against Europe, more earthly, secular and national concerns into Arab societies, from providing universities to food security and establishing armies. Since their independence Muslim countries have never waged a war against a European state, only among themselves and against Israel. Terrorist groups attacking European targets have usually declared themselves dissatisfied with their own peaceful governments. Although the ‘ten years of truce’ have passed since centuries, nothing has happened. Perhaps religious wars by states are universally out of fashion?
It is true of course that many European countries have such low birth rates and/or so much emigration among people with European roots, that their populations are declining or kept stable only thanks to immigration. It is standard strategy in books against the Islamization of Europe to claim that the high birth rate among Muslim immigrants will lead to a Muslim majority in a few decades. They accuse European governments of manipulating statistics to hide this ‘fact’ while it is the high Muslim birth rate that is a robust myth. Calculations about the growth of the Muslim share in populations also ignore the fact that the Muslim birth rate drops as soon as Muslims arrive in Europe and that already the second generation tends to follow the European example. Of course there are a few European cities where one third or half the population are immigrants, children and grandchildren of immigrants, but these people are not only Arab or Muslim. Not even all Arabs are Muslims and apart from Fridays many mosques in Europe are empty during the rest of the week. Cities such as London, Rotterdam or Naples are the exception, not the rule.
It is also a question of mathematics. Let us suppose that the Muslims really practising their faith in Europe are now thirty million (this is highly exaggerated, only for the sake of argument). If they remain thirty million thanks to a slightly higher birth rate of for example 2 children per Muslim woman, how could they possibly overwhelm in any near future a European population of nowadays around 731 million? (this figure is just a best guess, see Wikipedia) What European or Arab government or institution is supporting financially big Muslim families? Who can force the women to have so many kids? Where are the European projects to make the Europeans leave the continent by the hundreds of millions? Such simple but relevant questions are not on Littman’s agenda.
Loss of Christian values
For me as a very moral and ethical non-Christian it is really disturbing that some obscure group called EAD is charged with the blame for the loss of the Christian tradition in Europe. Most historians would be surprised that Europe’s loss of Christian principles and values started with some dinners of the Euro-Arab Dialogue group. What makes sense to historians, religious sociologists and even popes is putting the beginning of this loss for example in 1789, the first year of the French Revolution, or in the period of the rise of non-Christian science and the often anti-religious Enlightenment, or in the lifetime of radical philosophers such as Karl Marx or Friedrich Nietzsche, or during the massacres of the first and second World War, or in the last sixty years in which love of life and love of everything human replaced the despair of ‘God’s death’, nihilism, and other ideologies telling Europeans that life has no sense without religion.
However, Gisele Littman, who cannot be uninformed about these huge cultural transformations, is just unhappy with the European Christians, who are almost immune to the virulent Christian Zionism that has grown up in the United States. Zionist Christians are an important feature of American political life but not in Europe, where Christians and their institutions regularly deplore the lack of a peace deal with the Palestinians, Israeli war crimes or human rights abuses. This fits a European spirit – of the people, not its elites – that for better and for worse has tried to achieve some justice on its continent and elsewhere since 1945.
To deny, ignore and maliciously hide this history, Littman declares herself the enemy of everything that is valuable in European culture and scoiety. She can be silent about the many non-Christians who resisted German occupation, the Europeans will never forget it. World War II showed that truth that (ordinary) people can be patriotic (without jingoism) and accept sacrifice and death, because they love their country as a place of human life (read for example Albert Camus’ Letter to a German Friend). Littman tries to say that such lovely people, who did resist the murderous Germans of the 1940s, will not resist alleged devilish plots of Arab governments. It’s too ridiculous to comment on further.
Before her book ‘Eurabia’, Gisele Littman published ‘Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide’. One will notice that the title is similar to another book by a Jewish author, Samuel Huntington, who introduced the idea of a ‘Clash of Civilizations’ that would dominate the 21st century as a result of new religious fervor everywhere on our planet. Littman goes much further than Huntington who at least doesn’t promote the idea of a Muslim plot to silently conquer Europe with the help of the European elite and lots of Muslim babies.
Littman repeats in ‘Eurabia’ that it is the aim of modern Muslim states to reduce Europeans to the status of dhimmi: religious minorities under the rule of Islam, forced to pay taxes, not allowed to marry Muslims, excluded from political jobs and certain professions, but free to stick to their own religion. According to her the EAD has engaged, together with the Eurocrats, in massive brainwashing to make Europeans slowly accept this – in a new form, Littman writes. Europeans are now afraid to express their love for Israel, according to her, thanks to the ‘economic threats and intellectual terror of Arab countries’. But they are also disinformed, believes Littman, about what it means to live under Muslim rule, thanks to phantasy stories in the media about the good life of Jews and Christians in Spain after the Muslim conquest of the peninsula. As a specialist in this field Littman describes how reality in ‘Al-Andalus’ was living hell. Nobody who knows this history even jsuperficially, will deny the massacres and other wrongs against non-Muslims but the dhimmi-model was at least a far better solution than the devastating all-out religious wars between Protestants and Catholics in France, Germany and other European countries. Not accidentally, the Spaniards adopted the model after the Muslims were expelled… But then, it is not Littman’s aim to give a multi-faceted picture of any period in history.
In the meantime, Europeans might feel terribly bothered by Muslim women wearing headscharfs, Muslim men opening mosques, or Muslim couples having three or more children, but the Europeans’ leaders, elites, school teachers, intellectuals, politicians, artists and company managers are not feeling repressed, simply because they are not being repressed. Some Danish cartoonist might just feel threatened because he is threatened. Some non-Muslims in Europe do get murdered. But on the whole, Europeans are still the boss over their own moral, social, political, artistic and religious convictions. They are being challenged by certain Muslims and responding takes energy and time. Littman is the kind of white collar criminal posing as a political scientist who invents an international plot to advance the interests of one country at the expense of dozens of others. That’s wat Germany did in World War II. She cannot be excused to do the same now for Israel, especially as she is not a citizen there and doesn’t live there. In Israel many people are ashamed of certain events in their country’s history and recent massacres. Somebody once should tell Littman that she is not defending confused and divided Israelis and even less so Europeans but that she is defending a more and more extremist religious state (for in-depth information written by Israelis themselves, see for example Gershon Gorenberg’s book ‘The Unmaking of Israel’).