France’s Coming Battle, and What It Means for French Jewry

France may well show more fortitude and perseverance in fighting Islamist terror than is widely expected, argues Michel Gurfinkiel. But whether a reinvigorated French nation will become more sympathetic to its beleaguered Jews is another question entirely:

In recent years Jews have been a main target of jihadist violence in France, from the Jewish school massacre in Toulouse in 2012 to the Hyper Cacher massacre in 2015. It goes on: four days after the November 13 attacks, a Jewish teacher was stabbed in Marseilles by three men wearing pro-Islamic-State t-shirts. While the government and the political class constantly express their concern, and the police have provided large-scale protection to synagogues and other Jewish public places, . . . many Jews wonder whether parts of the public are not in fact indifferent, ready to wave away Muslim anti-Semitism and terrorism, even in France, as an outcome of an alleged Israeli unwillingness to come to terms with the Palestinians.

The new patriotic mood that has been emerging since November 13 seems to have muted this “argument.” Since everybody feels threatened now and everybody demands protection, there is much greater understanding and sympathy for the special case of the Jews. Israel is no longer described in the media as a country engaged in a colonial war of sorts against the Palestinians, but rather as a victim, along with France, of jihadist terrorism—and even sometimes as a positive example of successful anti-terrorist mobilization.

For all that, however, the long-term consequences may not be positive for Jews, and French-Jewish emigration, either to Israel or North America, will likely not subside. One reason is that greater ethnic and religious polarization means less toleration of all third parties.

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Read more at American Interest

More about: Anti-Semitism, France, French Jewry, ISIS, Israel & Zionism, Politics & Current Affairs, Radical Islam

Reengaging the Syrian Government Has Brought Jordan an Influx of Narcotics, but Little Stability

As Syria’s civil war drags on, and it seems increasingly unlikely that Bashar al-Assad will be overthrown, Arab states that had anathematized his regime for its brutal treatment of its own people have gradually begun to rebuild economic and diplomatic relations. There are also those who believe the West should do the same. The case of Jordan, argues Charles Lister, shows the folly of such a course of action:

Despite having been a longtime and pivotally important backer of Syria’s armed anti-Assad opposition since 2012, Jordan flipped in 2017 and 2018, eventually stepping forward to greenlight a brutal, Russian-coordinated Syrian-regime campaign against southern Syria in the summer of 2018. Amman’s reasoning for turning against Syria’s opposition was its desire for stability along its border, to create conditions amenable to refugee returns, and to rid southern Syria of Islamic State cells as well as an extensive Iranian and Hizballah presence.

As hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians were swiftly besieged and indiscriminately bombed from the ground and air, Jordan forced its yearslong Free Syrian Army partners to surrender, according to interviews I conducted with commanders at the time. In exchange, they were promised by Jordan a Russian-guaranteed reconciliation process.

Beyond the negligible benefit of resuming trade, Russia’s promise of “reconciliation” has resolutely failed. Syria’s southern province of Daraa is now arguably the most unstable region in the country, riddled with daily insurgent attacks, inter-factional strife, targeted assassinations, and more. Within that chaos, which Russia has consistently failed to resolve, not only does Iran remain in place alongside Hizballah and a network of local proxy militias but Iran and its proxies have expanded their reach and influence, commanding some 150 military facilities across southern Syria. Islamic State, too, continues to conduct sporadic attacks in the area.

Although limited drug smuggling has always existed across the Syria-Jordan border, the scale of the Syrian drug trade has exploded in the last two years. The most acute spike occurred (and has since continued) immediately after the Jordanian king Abdullah II’s decision to speak with Assad on the phone in October 2021. Since then, dozens of people have been killed in border clashes associated with the Syrian drug trade, and although Jordan had previously been a transit point toward the prime market in the Persian Gulf, it has since become a key market itself, with Captagon use in the country now described as an “epidemic,” particularly among young people and amid a 30-percent unemployment rate.

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Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Drugs, Jordan, Middle East, Syrian civil war