Needlessly Condemning Israel Hasn’t Bought France the Good Will of Its Restive Muslim Population

Oct. 11 2021

While the government of Emmanuel Macron has been fighting its own war on terror both domestically and in Africa, it has consistently condemned Jerusalem’s efforts to defend itself against Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Tsilla Hershco comments:

During the May 2021 Gaza war, . . . France condemned the terrorist organization’s attacks on Israeli cities and expressed support for Israel’s right to self-defense. At the same time, it demanded restraint from Israel on the alleged grounds that the violence was the product of a lack of political progress with the Palestinians, the (supposedly) provocative nature of Jewish communities in the West Bank, and the purported violation by Israel of the status quo in Jerusalem.

France feared that the events in Gaza would lead to violent demonstrations by French Muslims and an increase in anti-Semitic attacks on French Jews (as had occurred in previous rounds of war). Indeed, the French interior minister banned a demonstration by “supporters of Palestine in Paris” on May 14. Despite the ban, hundreds of French Hamas supporters gathered to demonstrate, refused police demands that they disperse, and attacked police officers with dangerous objects.

These events illustrate France’s vulnerability when dealing with growing pockets of poverty and crime, frequently in suburbs with a significant Muslim population. Obviously, the attempt to please Muslims in France by adopting a show of a “balanced” position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict does not solve the serious problems associated with the French republic’s relations with its Muslim population. Many Muslim immigrants, particularly of North African origin, have not integrated into French society and economy and are alienated from France. The growing influence of radical Islamists among French Muslims is reflected, inter alia, in the increase in the number of those who regard sharia law as above the laws of the French republic.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Emmanuel Macron, European Islam, France, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Terrorism

Saudi Arabia Should Open Its Doors to Israeli—and Palestinian—Pilgrims

On the evening of June 26 the annual period of the Hajj begins, during which Muslims from all over the world visit Mecca and perform prescribed religious rituals. Because of the de-jure state of war between Saudi Arabia and the Jewish state, Israeli Muslim pilgrims—who usually number about 6,000—must take a circuitous (and often costly) route via a third country. The same is true for Palestinians. Mark Dubowitz and Tzvi Kahn, writing in the Saudi paper Arab News, urge Riyadh to reconsider its policy:

[I]f the kingdom now withholds consent for direct flights from Israel to Saudi Arabia, it would be a setback for those normalization efforts, not merely a continuation of the status quo. It is hard to see what the Saudis would gain from that.

One way to support the arrangement would be to include Palestinians in the deal. Israel might also consider earmarking its southern Ramon Airport for the flights. After all, Ramon is significantly closer to the kingdom than Ben-Gurion Airport, making for cheaper routes. Its seclusion from Israeli population centers would also help Israeli efforts to monitor outgoing passengers and incoming flights for security purposes.

A pilot program that ran between August and October proved promising, with dozens of Palestinians from the West Bank traveling back and forth from Ramon to Cyprus and Turkey. This program proceeded over the objections of the Palestinian Authority, which fears being sidelined by such accommodations. Jordan, too, has reason to be concerned about the loss of Palestinian passenger dinars at Amman’s airports.

But Palestinians deserve easier travel. Since Israel is willing to be magnanimous in this regard, Saudi Arabia can certainly follow suit by allowing Ramon to be the springboard for direct Hajj flights for Palestinian and Israeli Muslims alike. And that would be a net positive for efforts to normalize ties between [Jerusalem] and Riyadh.

Read more at Arab News

More about: Israel-Arab relations, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia