The cost of European liberalism
Dr. Amira Halperin of Hebrew University’s Truman Research Institute spoke to Arutz about the series of six coordinated attacks claimed by Islamic State (ISIS), which left at least 129 people murdered in Paris on Saturday.
Halperin explained how she became familiar with the topic of Muslim terror in Europe when she was a journalist with the show “Panorama” and covered the 2003 shooting and bombing at the Mike’s Place bar in Tel Aviv. The attack, which left three murdered and 50 wounded, was perpetrated by British Muslim terrorists.
“What I saw and learned is the indescribable tolerance of the European states, particularly Britain, states that contribute and strengthen the terror cells in Europe,” she revealed.
The researcher noted how in Europe, in the name of freedom of speech, terrorists are given almost free reign to incite at universities against Israel and Europe, and the wave of incitement at mosques likewise goes unchecked on the part of the European authorities.
She noted that the same countries are now seeking to take in hundreds of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, in a move that raises threats of the migrants joining the local terror cells. At least one of the perpetrators of Saturday’s attacks appears to have entered Europe via Greece as a Syrian “refugee.”
“The solution is not just in the political and military sphere, but also in a much wider issue – eradicating the incitement in the world and in Europe. These are terrorists who live in Europe and some of them study at good established institutions, some of them work at respected places.”
Halperin noted that this familiarity with the European system from within affords them with a level of support and protection as they strengthen local terror cells throughout the continent.
Why Europe can’t act
“The (counter-terror) actions must be a lot more significant. It’s coming clear now that it was known that one of the (ISIS) terrorists (in the Paris attack) was actively inciting and nothing was done against him,” said Halperin.
“This was also the case when I interviewed the family of the terrorist from Mike’s Place, people from his mosque and British intelligence officers told me ‘we knew there was terror activity and bombs in the mosques, but the investigations didn’t lead anywhere and nothing was done.’ Just now that terrorist was extradited to the United States.”
There are three major reasons why Europe is not acting against terror, according to Dr. Halperin, with one source of the problem being fears of the political power of Muslim voters, given that “their votes cannot be ignored.”
“It’s a large, strong and politically involved community, and the moderates there must be spoken to. The government cannot act unequivocally against the terror cells because they want the (Muslim) votes.”
Beyond the political spectrum, an effective struggle against terrorism is prevented by “the liberal policy of granting freedom of speech, which is given in a very clear manner. The Europeans won’t give up on free speech for someone, even when it’s incitement.”
A third cause stopping Europe from stomping out terror is “the policy of political refuge and aid to those who are in danger in their homeland.”
Currently, the expert predicts it will be very difficult for Europe to reverse these trends, given that these freedoms have become an inseparable part of European policy.
“There’s a very big problem with going back. The steps (to do so) that have been taken until now were not significant,” she explained.
No more excuses
However, the recent massacre in Paris constitutes an escalation in the French awareness of the threat, reasons Halperin. She noted that until now the French was able to find outside reasons for attacks such as those seen in January, which targeted the satirical Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket.
The attack on the satirical magazine was explained as targeting the paper for its satirical jibes against Islam and Mohammed, and the supermarket attack was explained as being against Jews, “but here it’s against the West and against those who are fighting Islamic State.”
Halperin estimates that the location and timing of the recent Paris attacks are not coincidental, noting the targets were tourist attractions such as a concert hall, soccer stadium and restaurants, and the selection of such targets “was meant to frighten and disrupt the routine.”
“The timing was (US President Barack) Obama’s leaving for the (G-20) summit of industrialized nations. They want to grab the attention of world leaders to themselves. They know how to gain media attention, and therefore Europe is dealing with a very large problem today.”
“It’s very hard for Europe now, particularly due to the stream of refugees arriving from Syria, and due to the French fight against ISIS,” explained Halperin. “The situation is getting even more serious.”
“The right way to my understanding is the obligation to stop what’s happening inside (Europe) – to stop the terror activities immediately. Any issue of legislation will take time, but that’s the only way. A local struggle against ISIS activities will yield a small chance of success.”