Even as the political oligarchies of France and half a dozen other European states joined to denounce the "extremism" of Jean Marie Le Pen, German police were extracting (that's the polite word, I think) a confession from a real-live extremist who had plotted to blow up a synagogue in France.
The extremist has no connection whatsoever with Mr. Le Pen or his Front National and undoubtedly doesn't much care for them. His name is Aeurobui Beandali, a native of Algeria who invited himself to Germany in 1992 as an immigrant.
Mr. Beandali was nabbed on a tip from British and French police, who say the leader of the plot to bomb the synagogue in Strasbourg was another Muslim immigrant now in jail in Great Britain. U.S. authorities would also like to talk to Mr. Beandali about possible connections he has with terrorist plots in Los Angeles.
The point is that nowhere in all this argosy of global terrorism does an "extremist" of the Le Pen kidney pop up. If it's terrorism, the violent anti-Semitism that blows up synagogues, and political extremism you're looking for, Europe's immigrants from the Middle East are where you'll find them.
The New York Times reported much the same earlier this month, in the wake of a series of bombings directed against French Jews in almost a dozen different cities, what the Times calls "the worst spate of anti-Jewish violence in France since World War II." [NYT , April 8, 2002.: The Mideast in Marseille: Violence Shakes a City (Pay archive) free version] For all the blather over the last several years about the "rebirth of fascism," neo-Nazi skinheads and the political success of such populist right-wing leaders as Mr. Le Pen, Austria's Joerg Haider and others in several different countries, that's not where any of the new terrorism is coming from.
It's coming from the very immigrants these emerging leaders have been warning about for decades.
"This is not anti-Semitic violence, it's the Middle East conflict that's playing out here," the president of the Jewish Council in the Marseilles region told the Times. What has been obvious to critics of mass immigration for years is now flapping home to roost: Immigrants don't leave their beliefs, values and habits at the border; they carry them across, and old feuds, fights and ethnic and religious conflicts are perpetuated in their new countries.
Terrorism, however, is one thing, but immigrants also become citizens, and citizens vote, and when they vote, the same cultural and political baggage they imported across the border drives their ballots. France today has 600,000 Jews. It also has five million Moslems, about a third of whom now have the vote. Guess which group will exercise more political clout.
"All the political parties have taken into account the reality of the Muslim voting potential in France," a French sociologist recently told United Press International. If democracy knows one law, it is that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and in France, as in the United States, non-Western immigrants are a wheel around which national politics is beginning to turn.
"There is an electoral cushion of about 1.5 million people of North African origin," says the leader of a French anti-discrimination group. "They can make or unmake majorities. They can make or unmake a president. They can make or unmake a deputy. The politicians have understood."
The brute fact of Muslim political power may go far to explain the kind of hysteria about Mr. Le Pen's anti-immigration policies that gushed from French politicos of the left and right last week. Certainly it's a fact that helps explain the anti-Israeli slant of President Chirac.
"Today," UPI reported just before the first voting in the presidential election, "Mr. Chirac is winning new respect from Muslim youth, who consider him more pro-Palestinian than Mr. Jospin," the socialist whose career was extinguished by Mr. Le Pen's votes. Mr. Jospin, however, was no sluggard when it came to pandering to Muslims. His campaign program committed him to supporting giving non-European residents the vote.
The anti-Semitic terrorism of recent weeks in France is, in the long run, probably much less worrisome than the shape of French politics in the future. As Arabic and Muslim immigrants gain more and more power through the ballot box, they'll have less and less need for dynamite. That may make for a more peaceful country, but the contents of Arabic-Muslim politics may not be willing to stop merely at forcing a more pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli foreign policy.
If immigrants can blow up synagogues now, what will they do to synagogues—and the Jews who worship in them—when they can actually pass and repeal laws?
Maybe some people who have long supported mass immigration in both Europe and America ought to start thinking about it again.
COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
April 29, 2002