France’s Chief Rabbi Brokered a Compromise between Michel Houellebecq and Muslim Leaders

Perhaps France’s leading novelist, Michel Houellebecq is no stranger to controversy—especially when it comes to his pronouncements about, and literary depictions of, Islam in his country. Thus his prediction in an interview late last year that in France soon “whole areas will be under Islamic control,” and that non-Muslims will respond with violence, led Chems-Eddine Hafiz, the rector of Paris’s Grand Mosque, to file a complaint against him for “community violence incitement.” Michel Gurfinkiel provides some background, and explains how the chief rabbi of France, Haim Korsia, convinced Hafiz to relent:

Mr. Houellebecq is arguably France’s best and most important contemporary writer. There is a widespread feeling that he deserved much more a Nobel Prize than the 2022 French laureate, Annie Ernaux. While both deal at length with social and societal issues, like class, sex, gender, and race, Mr. Houellebecq never gets stuck, unlike Ms. Ernaux, in Manichean postures, and devotes equal attention and sympathy, as the author, to all his characters.

Ms. Ernaux bought her ticket to fame—and ultimately the Nobel Prize—by subscribing to what America and the rest of the world, it seems, call woke orthodoxy. This includes a denial of Islamist threats to France in 2015 and support for anti-Israel campaigns. Mr. Houellebecq, on the contrary, did not shy away from tackling the Islamic and Islamist challenges to France and the West.

Houellebecq first found himself in legal troubles over similar statements in 2001, not long before the al-Qaeda attacks on America:

The case was then dismissed by the French court, setting a twenty-year-old precedent that Chief Rabbi Korsia did not fail to mention to Rector Hafiz when he suggested to him that he drop the complaint. All the more so since most of the French have doubled down, in the wake of the murder of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists in 2015, and more recently in front of a spreading wokeism, on their traditional aversion to censorship.

Eventually, Mr. Houellebecq met the rector under Mr. Korsia’s tutelage, and agreed to reword his previous statements incrementally, when the interview will be published again as a book. Mr. Houellebecq may have learned one thing at least from the Islamic culture: taqiya, the permissibility to please adversaries if needed.

Read more at Middle East Forum

More about: European Islam, France, French Jewry, Rabbis


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security