It was just a coincidence that "Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis" (Farleigh Dickinson University Press) appeared in the mail the same day a New York Times article on the subject of Eurabia landed on the doorstep. "Eurabia," the long-awaited book by Bat Ye'or, is a comprehensive, even overwhelming and absolutely shocking explication of how and why it is that Europe is transforming itself into what the Egyptian-born historian calls "a new geopolitical entity -- Eurabia." The New York Times article, on the other hand, a muddled analysis by Craig S. Smith about the "fear of Islamists" and the "far right" in Belgium, is one more illustration of how desperately Bat Ye'or's trailblazing work is needed.
Few of us have the long-view vision to make sense of the sweep of history as it smokes past our eyes; Bat Ye'or, as a historian of Islam, and, in particular, the dhimmi (the non-Muslim peoples who live as second-class citizens under Islamic rule), has precisely the laser-lens required. She also has the fortitude of the historian/gumshoe to wade through the stacks of articles, memoranda and conference declarations generated by something called the Euro-Arab Dialogue (EAD). Created 30-odd years ago at the instigation of France and the Arab League, the practically unknown EAD has provided structural and theoretical underpinnings to a Euro-Arab axis -- Eurabia. These have fostered the political, economic and cultural bonds between Europe and the Arab world that Bat Ye'or maintains were designed to create "a global alternative to American power."
How? Very basically -- and this is detailed in the book -- by shepherding a meeting of Euro-Arab minds, first and foremost, on the Arab League war on Israel. This would come about in exchange for freely flowing Arab oil into Europe, which would come about in exchange for freely flowing Muslim immigration into Europe, which would come about in exchange for research and development and labor and education and tourism and cultural ties between the Europe and the Arab world ... which would all come about with an increasing independence of (and, indeed, hostility toward) America.
This goes a long way toward explaining the behavior of Old Europe -- the heart of Eurabia -- since Sept. 11. It also leaves a question hanging when The New York Times pegs Muslim immigration into Europe to a simple "postwar labor shortage": Is that really all the news that's fit to print?
Trying to assess the rise of the anti-immigration party Vlaams Belang, which represents almost a quarter of the Belgian electorate today, the Times reporter seems perplexed. This is how it seems he thinks: To be anti-immigration is to be, as he puts it, "far right" or "extreme right." And to be "far right" or "extreme right" is to be very, very bad. Weren't Nazis both far and extreme right -- or is that the Republican party? Whatever.
He knows Islam is a religion, although he doesn't seem to know it is also a political system. And to be prejudiced against religiosity (but not Christianity or Zionism) is very, very bad also. So Smith writes: "Many people" -- himself, for instance? -- "worry that the appeal of anti-Islamic politics will continue to spread as Europe's Muslim population grows." No mention, of course, that to be "anti-Islamic politics" is to be anti-sharia law, which sounds perfectly Jeffersonian to me.
This reasoning, however, is beyond a guy who marvels -- again, perplexed -- that one of his interviewees, a son and grandson of Holocaust victims, has campaigned for "far right" Vlaams Belang. The poisonous animus for Jews (and Christians) contained within "Islamic politics," not to mention its totalitarian strictures, fails to move the reporter's silly sense of political direction. His compass tells him anti-immigrationists are on the "far right" (jackboots), while Muslims, he writes, join "left-leaning parties" (save the whales).
Then Smith interviews a Belgian Muslim whose son faces terror charges in Turkey for killing 61 people in a 2003 bombing, and who calls the 9/11 attacks "a poetic act." In his, I suppose, "left-leaning" way, terror-dad "dismisses the far right's fears of an Islamization of Europe, even if he does dream of an Islamic theocracy governing the continent someday." Smith's conclusion? "In many ways, radical Islamists" -- such as terror-dad -- "are holding Europe's broader, moderate Muslim population hostage, attracting attention disproportionate to their numbers."
I say the reporter is holding The New York Times' broader, moderate readership hostage. The facts shall set you free in Bat Ye'or's "Eurabia."