The Euro-Arab Axis,
by Bat Ye'or
384 pp., $23.95)
Terrorist attacks on the United States, and then the campaign in Iraq, brought out into the open the anti-Americanism in much of European public opinion. This came as a shock, but it should not have done so. For decades now, European leaders have been seeking ways to centralize and unite, with the aim of making their continent a power in the world to rival the U.S. Generally speaking, they have not tried to explain why this is a good idea, nor whether it is practical, but have simply proceeded on their chosen course with a strange mishmash of deception and self-deception.
The prejudices and assumptions feeding this anti-Americanism originate mostly in France, a country grievously suffering from a sense of political and cultural failure. For two centuries now French policymakers have spoken of France as "a Muslim power," that is to say one with a grand imperial design for incorporating the Arab world and its resources. Not even widespread violence and wars of liberation could stifle the persistence of this fantasy. Originally inspired by General de Gaulle and backed by every subsequent French president, a policy program known as the Euro-Arab Dialogue acquired formal shape as from 1973, with the purpose of fitting the Arabs into the new imperial design of Europe.
Virtually nobody has ever heard of this Euro-Arab Dialogue. With no recognizable public profile, behind the scenes it nevertheless is changing the relationship between Europe and the Arab world, and the relationship of both to the U.S. It is a classic example of the invisibility and lack of accountability that are the hallmarks of the European Union's method of proceeding. Bat Ye'or's contribution is to bring this Euro-Arab Dialogue and its consequences into the light of day.
Born in Cairo, she has made a special study of the social and legal inequality that Christians and Jews were obliged to accept in the old days under Muslim rule. Known as dhimmi, minorities had to acknowledge their inferiority in all respects, and this bred in them a subservience for which she has coined the word "dhimmitude." For her, the Euro-Arab Dialogue is the foundation of dhimmitude in a new setting.
Much of what she records looks like the routine of international meetings that keep diplomats immersed in tedious routines of their own design. There they go from Barcelona, to Lahore, to Naples and Hamburg and Venice. But out pour the resolutions, in pours the European taxpayer's money, and lo and behold, shoals of new organizations are spawned, a Parliamentary Association for Euro-Arab Cooperation, a Euro-Mediterranean Partnership program, a Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership, and so on, as in the reproductive process of the amoeba.
By definition, representatives of European democracies have a different standing from representatives of Arab tyrannies, and ought to have different values. Instead, they are determined to give the Arabs whatever they demand. In the face of such surrender, the Arabs — skillful negotiators — naturally raise their demands, and so are incorporating Europe into imperial designs of their own. Arabs must be allowed to immigrate into Europe with full and guaranteed rights, and they must be shown a tolerance that they would never consider granting any Europeans who immigrated into their countries. The figures are uncertain, but something on the order of 20 million Arabs are now in Europe, and whether they will integrate or choose Islamist separatism is an urgent question.
Separatism is in effect jihad, that is to say a contemporary version of the traditional Muslim conquest by war of the infidel, with subsequent dhimmitude as the other side of the coin. A main ingredient of European anti-Americanism stems from the determination of the U.S. to resist jihad, indeed to break it by all available means. In Bat Ye'or's view, Europeans are being pressured by their leaders into dhimmitude; their continent is being remade as Eurabia. That is the real purpose of the Euro-Arab Dialogue.
Dhimmitude, she writes, is based on "peaceful surrender, subjection, tribute and praise." Signs of all this are everywhere present. European statesmen and intellectuals line up to assert that Western civilization stems from Islam and its learning, ignoring or deprecating the Judeo-Christian heritage and the contributions of Greece and Rome. "Europe's roots are as much Muslim as Christian," was the bizarre assertion of Jacques Chirac, an apostle of dhimmitude. Muslims claim Abraham as a prophet, and churchmen accept this nonsensical distortion of chronology and Judaism. The Muslim occupation of Spain, known as al-Andalus at the time, was an occupation like any other, but academics and publications pretend that it was a golden period of multicultural togetherness.
All the evidence is that Arabs are their own worst enemies, mired in tyranny, corruption, falsehood, and prejudice against women and infidels, but either as a cover or out of ignorance they insist that Israel is the sole obstacle to their peace and prosperity. Inspired by France, and by means of the European Union and offshoots of the Euro-Arab Dialogue, the Europeans have steadily promoted the Arab goal of delegitimizing Israel, and dismantling it; they rescued Yasser Arafat from the disastrous consequences of his one-man rule, and have paid about half the running costs of his regime, terrorism included. Arabs in Europe and their supporters accordingly are encouraged to attack Jews; and Thirties-style anti-Semitism is everywhere on the rise.
What really motivates this abject performance? Bat Ye'or points to various factors: greed and the necessity of Middle East oil; an unwritten compact that accepting millions of Muslims in their midst will spare Europeans from being victims of Islamist terror; a guilty conscience spurred by awareness that American support for Israel, particularly its moral support, is only just and right. All things considered, however, the inescapable conclusion is that those who speak and act in the name of Europe no longer believe in the cultural and moral values of their inheritance.
Ordinary people who are still in the dark about the way the Euro-Arab Dialogue is refashioning their lives may one day rebel — in which case, Bat Ye'or and this book will seem prophetic. Or they may sink helplessly into dhimmitude, in which case Bat Ye'or will be ignored and her book unobtainable. Either way, she is a Cassandra, a brave and far-sighted spirit.
Mr. Pryce-Jones is a senior editor of NR, and the author of numerous books, including The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs.