For the first four or five days, the only reports of the
riots in France that we saw were those filed by Arnon Jaffe,
our Paris correspondent. But after they persisted for seven
and eight days, reports started to appear in the major media
The riots are approaching two weeks in duration and, as we
write, they are still accelerating. They are very serious and
the numbers are numbing. Two nights ago they were reported in
240 locations. Last night in almost 300. Two nights ago 1,295
cars were reported burned; last night 1,408.
The disturbances in the Moslem communities have begun to
spread — across France and into neighboring countries
like Belgium and Germany where a few cars were set ablaze. On
Sunday two policemen were shot and seriously wounded in a
Paris suburb in what spokesmen described as an ambush.
Altogether about 80 policemen have been injured along with
dozens of firefighters and innocent bystanders. One
handicapped woman was doused with gasoline and set ablaze as
she tried to get off of a bus to escape an attack.
The rioting started on October 27 in the lower-class Parisian
suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois. This is one of many areas of
cheap government-built housing that are inhabited by the
millions of immigrant Moslems in France. In a country of some
60 million people, Moslems are now about ten percent of the
French leaders thought that they were immune to serious
trouble from their North African residents and citizens since
they opposed the US war in Iraq and were consistently
friendly to Arabs. Yasser Arafat died in a French hospital
after he was taken there for treatment.
It seems that the recent events are just a more intense
version of what goes on all the time, with no publicity. In
eleven days, almost 5,000 cars were torched. However up until
then, over 20,000 cars were burned since the beginning of the
calendar year 2005. That means that "only" about 70 cars are
destroyed on an average night. Compared to 1,400 it is not
much, but compared to what normal civilized life is expected
to be, it is enormous. The ongoing problems were always
dismissed and explained away as the problems of youth —
without mentioning the Arab and Moslem connection.
Nonetheless, France is being hit hard, and it seems that it
will get worse before it gets better.
Britain found that its openness and tolerance for Islamic
leaders — it was known as Londonistan — only led
to the attacks of 7/7 from home-grown suicide bombers. All
over the world there is a wave of terror and, as one analyst
noted, even though not all Moslems are terrorists, all the
terrorists are Moslems: Israel, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the
US, Spain, the UK, Holland, Indonesia, Iraq, . . . and who
will be next?
It is — or should be — becoming clear that the
answer to these world problems is not any single thing. It is
not the American-led invasion of Iraq or its attack on
Afghanistan. It is not grievances against European
governments. It is not Western success or Moslem failure to
progress. And it is most certainly not the existence of
Israel. There is a deep difficulty in living together with
some powerful elements of the Moslem world.
Everyone yearns to find a full solution to these individual
problems, and especially to the collective problem of
reaching an accommodation with the worldwide Moslem
community. Yet an insistence on building a policy based on a
solution, something to end the conflict "once-and-for-all"
— like the Oslo accords and the more recent Geneva
Initiative of the Israeli Left — leaves one vulnerable
to dangerous oversimplifications and outright deceit.
The only solution that seems reachable and practical is an
application of the venerable Jewish "golus mentality" of
reaching an accommodation with a difficult reality and
learning to live with it — to make the best of
This is what Israeli Prime Minister Sharon seems to be
pursuing with his Disengagement Plan: to create a situation
that will not necessarily be stable or permanent like a full
peace treaty, but is nonetheless livable. Utopian solutions
are for Moshiach. In our situation, a realistic approach
means learning to live with the problems of shibud
malchuyos — both spiritual and material.
The willingness to find a way to live with problems that
cannot be solved is a lesson that seems to have been learned
by the Israeli prime minister. Other nations would do well to
follow his lead in this area.