Michel Houellebecq and the Decline of European Civilization

In Submission, his most recent novel, the French writer-provocateur Michel Houellebecq imagines France after an Islamic takeover. The book, argues Amir Taheri, is as much a critique of European decadence as a warning about the dangers of radical Islam:

It is, of course, possible to read Submission as an exercise in tongue-in-cheek provocation. The trouble is that the self-loathing it portrays is real. Many Frenchmen see their society as drifting in uncertain waters without an anchor. They are concerned by increasingly powerless elected governments, distant bureaucrats who intervene in every aspect of people’s lives, and an economic system that promises more and more but delivers less and less. Advocates of the view that the West is in “decline” claim that Europeans no longer believe in anything and are thus doomed to lose the fight against home grown Islamists who passionately believe in the little they know of Islam.

The novel partly answers the question that many French are asking these days: What do jihadists want? The answer is that they don’t want anything in particular because they want everything. They want to seize control of your life and dictate its every aspect to the last detail. In exchange, they offer you security and a share of whatever cake may remain.

Houellebecq’s novel ends without its hero specifically accepting the bargain, although he clearly tilts towards doing so. In other words, the French, even seven years from now (the novel is set in 2022), still have a choice. My guess is that the overwhelming majority of the French will not feel the same temptation felt by Houellebecq’s narrator.

 

Read more at Asharq al-Aswat

More about: European Islam, France, Jihadism, Literature, Western civilization

Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation