15 November '15..
Earlier this year, France was one of eight countries that supported a Palestinian resolution at the United Nations Security Council, calling for a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines by the end of 2017.
This vote means that France supports the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, likely to be ruled by the same type of people who on Friday carried out the most grisly terror attacks in France since World War II.
Today, every Palestinian child knows that in the best case, a future Palestinian state will be run by Hamas or Islamic Jihad, and in the worst case by the Islamic State and its affiliates. Has it occurred to anyone in Europe that the Palestinian people might not want to live under the rule of any of the groups, any more than Europeans would?
France and the rest of the EU countries have long been working against their own interests in the Middle East. By constantly endorsing pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli policies, France has obviously been seeking to appease the Arab and Islamic countries. France seems convinced that such policies will keep Muslim terrorists from targeting French nationals and interests. That is probably why the French have made the catastrophic mistake of believing that the policy of appeasement toward Arabs and Muslims would persuade the Islamist terrorists to stay away from France. The French are now in grave danger of mistakenly believing that the November 13 attacks occurred because France did not appease the Muslim terrorists enough.
Sadly, the two earlier terrorist attacks that took place in Paris this year -- against the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper and the HyperCacher Jewish supermarket -- failed to convince the French that the policy of appeasement towards Arabs and Muslims is not only worthless, but also dangerous.
Instead of learning from these previous mistakes and embarking on a new policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general and extremist Islam in particular, the French continued with their strategy of appeasement even after the Charlie Hebdo and the HyperCacher supermarket attacks.
Most recently, France voiced its backing for EU plans to label products from Israeli settlements, doubtless thinking that such a move would make the Muslim terrorists happy with the French. But, as last Friday's terrorist attacks showed, the Islamic State and its supporters are not particularly impressed by anti-Israel moves.
Muslim terrorists do not care about the settlements. For them, that is a trivial issue compared to their chief goal and dream: truthfully, to kill all infidels and establish an Islamic empire. The Muslim terrorists who have been murdering Jews in Israel and other parts of the world also seek to kill anyone they perceive as being friends of Western values in general. These include, above all, Christians -- either those unfortunate enough still to be living in the Middle East, but also those living in France and other Western countries.
The reason Muslim extremists want to destroy Israel is not because of the settlements or checkpoints. They want to destroy Israel because they believe that Jews have no right to be in the Middle East whatsoever. And they want to destroy Europe because they believe that Christians -- and everyone -- have no right to be anything other than Muslim. That is also why Muslims seem not particularly interested in the EU's decision to label products from Israeli settlements. It is worth noting that the decision to label Israeli goods was not even an Arab or Islamic initiative.
The EU's decision to boycott products from Israeli settlements has sent entirely the wrong message to the enemies of Israel and the enemies of Western values. These enemies of the West see the decision to label products as just the first step toward labeling all of Israel as an "illegal settlement." It is no surprise that the first to celebrate the decision were Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
What France and other Western countries do not understand is that concessions and gestures are being misinterpreted by the terrorists as signs of weakness, which just invite more violence. When the terrorists see that pressure works, increasing the pressure should work even more!
The European boycotts are seen by the people here as nothing but cynical and heartless -- attempts to court a thieving leadership at the expense of the people. The boycotts are seen here as nothing but keeping the Palestinian people in the grip of its corrupt leadership and prompting us to take another look at the extremists -- the only choice offered up.
What the Europeans might have learned is that the assaults in Paris are what all of us here -- Muslims, Christians and Jews -- have been living with for decades.
During the past 22 years, all Israel's territorial concessions and goodwill gestures have resulted only in increased terrorism against Israel, including us Arabs. Many Palestinians incorrectly saw the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 only as a retreat and a sign of weakness. If shooting at Jews made them leave Gaza -- as it appeared -- keep shooting at Jews. The result was that Hamas took credit for driving the Jews out of the Gaza Strip with rockets and suicide bombings, and quickly rose to power.
In the same manner, each time Israel has released Palestinian prisoners (including dozens with blood on their hands) as a gesture to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas or U.S Secretary of State John Kerry, the Palestinians regarded the gesture as having their demands met. So the next step is to increase the violence and demand more. The Palestinians saw Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon and Gaza, and the release of Palestinian prisoners, not as a sign that Israel was interested in peace and calm, but as a reward for terrorism.
Two months ago, France took another step in appeasing the Arabs and Muslims. This time, the French voted in favor of raising a Palestinian flag at the UN headquarters. "This flag is a powerful symbol, a glimmer of hope for the Palestinians," UN French Ambassador Francois Delattre said. Again, the French apparently thought that the vote would satisfy the Arabs and Muslims and persuade the terrorists that France was on their side in the fight against Israel.
France's -- and Europe's -- flawed policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not start in the past year or two. Four years ago, France voted in favor of granting the Palestinians full membership of the UN's Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Last month, the Palestinian Authority leadership unsuccessfully tried to use UNESCO to pass a resolution declaring the Western Wall a holy site for Muslims only. The resolution was changed at the last minute into one just condemning Israel, but instead of opposing the resolution, an embarrassed France chose to abstain. UNESCO, however, did vote that two ancient Jewish heritage sites symbolic of the Biblical era, Rachel's Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs, would henceforth be known as Muslim heritage sites. The same week, another Biblical site, Joseph's Tomb, was set on fire (for the second time; the first was in 2000) by people whose government, the Palestinian Authority, had agreed to protect it.
For the past few weeks, Palestinians have been waging a new wave of terrorism against Israelis. This time, the Palestinians are using rifles, knives, stones and cars to murder as many Jews as possible. But we still have not heard any real condemnation -- from France, Europe or anyone -- of the Palestinian terrorism.
We have also not heard France or other EU countries demand that President Mahmoud Abbas condemn the terrorist attacks against Israelis. Most French media outlets and journalists have even refused to refer to the Palestinian assailants as terrorists -- despite many of the terrorists being affiliated two Palestinian groups that share the same ideology as Islamic State: Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
By failing to condemn the terrorist attacks against Israelis and name the perpetrators for what they are -- ruthless murderers and terrorists -- France and Western countries are once again sending the wrong message to the Islamists: that killing Jews is not an act of terrorism.
What these countries do not realize is that the terrorists who are attacking Jews also seek to destroy France, Germany, Britain and, of course, the "Big Satan" (the United States). These countries need to be reminded every day that the Islamist terrorists' ultimate goal is to force all non-Muslims to submit to Islam or face death. Sometimes, the terrorists do not even have the patience to offer this choice to the "infidels," and just kill them while they are watching a concert or a soccer match.
It now remains to be seen whether the French will wake up and realize that radical Islam is at war with the "unbelievers" and all those who refuse to accept the dictates of Islamic State and other Muslim extremists. This is a war that Israel has been fighting now for more than two decades, but, sadly, with little support -- and most often with venomous obstruction -- from countries in Europe, including France.
The French and Europeans would do well to understand that there is no difference between a young Palestinian who takes a knife and sets out to murder Jews, and an Islamic State terrorist who murders dozens of innocent people in Paris. Once the French and other Europeans understand this reality, it will be far easier for them to engage in the battle against Islamic terrorism.
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based on the Middle East.
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