Monday, February 16, 2015

NRG: 10 Hours of Fear and Loathing in Paris

The video and accompanying article were published yesterday by NRG, the media website of Maariv, one of the three main Hebrew daily newspapers in Israel. The story was quickly picked up by some influential anti-Islam and pro-Israel websites and bloggers. In the last few hours the Daily Mail and other British newspapers have given it front-page billing. The Drudge Report started linking to it this morning but a few hours ago began to feature it as their headline story under the title "Jew Hell in Paris".

So the idea was to walk through the streets of Paris as an "obvious" Jew and see what happened. A similar experiment was done by a Swedish Television station a month or so ago in Malmo, Sweden. The results--the taunts, harassments, threats and so on--were similar. The difference is that Malmo has a population that is probably 30% Muslim and a Jewish population that has shrunk to a mere few hundred. Paris has a Muslim population of perhaps 15% and a Jewish population of a quarter-million.

Also, it's Paris.

Here is the video:

And here is the original text from Zvika Klein, the reporter that created the video:
10 Hours of Fear and Loathing in Paris 
One month after the terrorist attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris, NRG's correspondent, wearing a tzitzit and a kippa, took what proved to be an intimidating walk across the French capital. "What is he doing here Mommy? Doesn’t he know he will be killed?" one little boy asked, saying it all 
PARIS – "Go f*** from the front and the back," "Viva Palestine," "Hey you, with the kippa, what are you doing here?" these were only a few of the remarks sent my way as I was walking through the streets of Paris wearing a tzitzit and a kippa. 
Welcome to Paris 2015, where soldiers are walking every street that houses a Jewish institution, and where keffiyeh-wearing men and veiled women speak Arabic on every street corner. Walking down one Parisian suburb, I was asked what I doing there. In modern-day Paris, you see, Jews are barred from entering certain areas. 
About six months ago, New Yorker Shoshana Roberts uploaded a video to YouTube in which she documented the sexist remarks and harassment she suffered during 10 hours of walking down the streets of the Big Apple. After the Jan. 9 attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris, where four people were murdered for the sole reason of being Jewish, we decided to see what it was like for a Jew living in the City of Lights. 
For 10 hours I quietly walked down the streets and suburbs of Paris, with photographer Dov Belhassen documenting the day using a GoPro camera hidden in his backpack. Given the tensions in Paris, which is still reeling from a wave of terrorist attacks (including the murder of Charlie Hebdo magazine journalists), I was assigned a bodyguard. 
In zero-degree weather, thousands of Frenchmen braved the cold wind on their way to just another day at the office. We started walking – first through the quieter quarters of the city, across from the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-ֹlysיes, and the Jewish neighborhoods, and later through the mostly Muslim neighborhoods. 
Areas known as tourist attractions were relatively calm, but the further from them we walked, the more anxious I became over the hateful stares, the belligerent remarks, and the hostile body language. 
At times it was like walking in downtown Ramallah. Most women were wearing a veil or a hijab, most men appeared to be Muslim, and Arabic was prevalent everywhere. We decided ahead of time that I was to walk through these areas quietly, without stopping anywhere, without speaking to anyone, without so much as looking sideways. My heart was pounding and negative thoughts were running through my head. I would be lying if I said I was not afraid. 
"Just like Ramallah" 
Walking into a public housing neighborhood, we came across a little boy and his hijab-clad mother, who were clearly shocked to see us. "What is he doing here Mommy? Doesn’t he know he will be killed?" the boy asked. 
Walking by a school in one of Paris' neighborhoods, a boy shouted "Viva Palestine" at me. Moments later, passing by a group of teens, one of the girls remarked, "Look at that – it's the first time I've ever seen such a thing." 
Walking down another neighborhood, a driver stopped his car and approached us. "We've been made," I thought. "What are you doing here?" he asked. "We've had reports that you were walking around our neighborhood – you're not from around here." 
In one of the mostly-Muslim neighborhoods, we walked into an enclosed marketplace. "Look at him! He should be ashamed of himself. What is he doing walking in here wearing a kippa?!" one Muslim merchant yelled. "What do you care? He can do whatever he wants," another, seemingly unfazed merchant, answered. Over at a nearby street I was lambasted with expletives, mostly telling me to "go f*** from the front and the back." 
At a nearby cafe, fingers were pointed at us, and moments later two thugs were waiting for us on the street corner. They swore at me, yelled "Jew" and spat at me. "I think we've been made," the photographer whispered at me. Two youths were waiting for us on the next street corner, as they had apparently heard that a Jew was walking around their neighborhood. 
They made it clear to us that we had better get out of there, and we took their advice. "A few more minutes and this would have been a lynching," the bodyguard told me as we were getting into the car. "Leave this area right now." 
Is this what life is like for Paris' Jews? Is this what a Jew goes through, day in and day out, while walking to work or using public transportation? The majority of French Jews do not flaunt their religion, as the Jewish community leaders have urged them to wear hats as they walk to and from work, or go bareheaded. But what about nighttime? Well, Jews prefers to stay inside in the evening. It is safer at home.
What do we learn in the video?

Well, obviously, Paris is now quite hostile to Jews. Much of Paris is now very Muslim in an obvious way, in many areas "keffiyeh-wearing men and veiled women speak Arabic on every street corner". The publicly expressed anti-Semitism in the video is exclusively a Muslim thing. Therefore, Paris is hostile to Jews because it now has a large (and growing) Muslim population. 

Let's assume the "best-case" scenario, that Western leaders acknowledge that we're in a war with Islamic "extremism". The problem is, for the most part the abusive and threatening Muslims in the video do not appear to be "extremists" in the usual sense--that is young males with automatic weapons, plotting with their Al Qaeda cell member mates at internet cafes or whatever.

Instead, there's a merchant, a little boy, a teenage girl walking with her mother or grandmother (she's the one that spits at the guy).

Anti-Semitism in the French Muslim community is virulent and deep. These views are almost certainly held by a majority (whether they take the time to spit or not).

At the same time we should acknowledge that they are not unanimous. Recall the merchant who rebuked his comrade--"What do you care? He can do whatever he wants".
So, no ideology is completely corrupting. There are good men everywhere. The problem of course, is often there are not enough. Will that good Muslim merchant still feel free to air his thoughts when Paris is 40% Muslim?

Where is this headed? Defeating the "extremists" won't defeat this. I imagine most Jews will move out of France.

And what of attitudes among non-Muslims, including those in this country (the USA)? So, you're against anti-Semitism but you also decry "Islamophobia"? Listen carefully:

You're either lying (you don't really give a fig about anti-Semitism) or ignorant. Indeed, at this point, if you claim to follow the news, you're willfully ignorant. Or your hate for either the Judeo-Christian religious tradition or liberal Western civilization, is such that it has blinded you utterly--"Muslims oppose those things--well then, they must be the good guys, or at least the victims then". Or you're just a coward who is terrified of going against what seems to be the dominant zeitgeist.

You scream "Islamophobe!" Well, what have you done to help your brother?

This will not end well for anyone, least of all (as usual) for the Jews.  

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