The eminent scholar, Bat Ye’or, is a towering intellect and a fierce judge of both human character and history. Her work predicted and documented the Islamification of Europe. We both agree that the battle for America has only begun—although I believe that it is well underway. In the following interview I had with Bat Ye’or, we talk about War and Peace and the Clash of Civilizations.
Chesler: What do you see is happening at this moment?
Bat Ye’or: The West is engaged in a very careful exercise of self-censorship. We are trying not to offend Muslim sensibilities. Western governments want to impose respect for Muslim sensibilities in the hope that this will avoid jihad. They are ready to suppress the truth.
Chesler: What do you think of an Obama Presidency?
Bat Ye’or: Obama and his supporters do not seem to understand that Europe has failed. Today, European dissidents are forming movements against the European Union whose policies have led to the Islamification of Europe. Europe is suffering from a huge Muslim immigration problem. The Muslim immigrants do not want to integrate into a modern, tolerant state and they want to impose Sha’ria law on us all.
Chesler: What does this remind you of?
Bat Ye’or: All these Western gestures of appeasement remind me of the dhimmi regulations. These are a whole set of regulations whose purpose is to respect Muslim sensibilities. Therefore, Christians must conduct “quiet” services and dhimmis (infidels) must wear special clothing so as not to shock or offend Muslims with their too-fashionable or too-expensive clothing. Long ago, infidels had to dismount from their donkeys when a Muslim approached and a dhimmi could only pass a Muslim on the left (or impure) side, not on the right side.
I am not in favor of inciting anyone but really, where will this all end? And why this super-sensitivity only to Muslims? There is only one answer. Our intellectuals and politicians want to have a good relationship with the Muslim world. They think they will always have the freedoms that they currently enjoy. They do not understand that those freedoms are at risk.
Chesler: Where does Israel fit into this picture?
Bat Ye’or: Europeans have imagined that the problem is only Israel. They were committed to allowing the Arabs to destroy Israel if that kept them, the Europeans, safe. But these Europeans do not seem to remember that Islam persecuted and then destroyed Christianity in Muslim lands. We see a repetition of this in Europe today.
Chesler: Such politicians and intellectuals are suicidal, don’t you think?
Bat Ye’or: Absolutely. But they want so much to be loved that they are reaching out to their enemy. This is the politics of self-destruction. They are making concessions about their basic security and freedom
Chesler: Some people are already discouraged, almost in advance, about the battle for America. What do you think?
Bat Ye’or: This battle is not yet lost. The handful of us who are working to alert others to the dangers specific to the 21st century are doing heroic work against all odds. We—you—have not failed. I believe that we are planting seeds. When America battled communism it had whole organizations committed to doing so. We—you—have nothing like that today in the war against Islamic terror.
Chesler: I know that your work was initially attacked or “disappeared.” How much has this changed?
Bat Ye’or: My work has been well received in Italy by the most prominent Italian intellectuals. I am, however, conspicuously avoided in the UK by the media and in universities—although I did speak before Parliament two years ago. In France, everyone’s speech is less free than elsewhere. It is the most intellectually repressive society.
After I returned home, I read that French intellectuals, headed by Bernard Henri-Levy are organizing to support Aayan Hirsi Ali’s request for French citizenship. Have the French finally begun to wake up? Or does this say something about Sarkozy’s future politics and his potential interest in a high-profile symbol?
To be continued. . . .