Today, historian Georges Bensoussan will appear before a criminal court in France accused of islamophobia. Lyn Julius writes in the Huffington Post that his case is not the first and will certainly not be the last.
A complaint was filed
against Bensoussan, 64, by the Collective Against Islamophobia in
France. During a TV discussion broadcast on 10 October 2015, Repliques,Bensoussan
commented that France cannot hope to integrate its Maghrebi immigrants
unless it recognized that these immigrants imbibe antisemitism ‘with
their mother’s milk’.
Georges Bensoussan (BALTEL/SIPA)
Bensoussan is one of
France’s leading historians and editorial director at the Holocaust
Memorial in Paris. The author of an 800-page volume on the uprooting of
Jews from Arab countries, Juifs en pays Arabes: le grand deracinement1850 – 1975 , heclaims
that he was merely paraphrasing the words of a ‘brave’ Algerian
sociologist, Smain Laachar. “Everyone knows it but nobody will say it,”
Laachar had declared of Arab/Muslim antisemitism.
Laachar has since denied
having said or written this ‘ignominy’. He declared that it was
outrageous for Bensoussan to have claimed that antisemitism was
transmitted by blood.
Bensoussan has countered that Arab antisemitism was not transmitted biologically but culturally.
Arab family knows it. It would be monumental hypocrisy not to see that
such antisemitism begins at home. .. People are being selectively
indignant. In France today, a section of young French youth of Maghrebi
extraction is having trouble integrating and the old prejudices in
North African Muslim culture are being revived – conspiracy theories
centered around the Jew, aggravated by the fact that the Jewish
community is flourishing in France.”
Bensoussan has accused his
critics of ‘intellectual terrorism’. Thankfully, leading historians have
rallied to Bensoussan’s defence and an appeal has beenlaunched to support him.
The Bensoussan case is a
carbon-copy of the barely-reported case brought against the philosopher
Pascal Bruckner in 2015. Bruckner had called for a file to be opened on
certain groups he claimed were collaborators with such Islamist
terrorist attacks as the Charlie Hebdo slaughter of the satirical
magazine’s journalists and cartoonists. He was acquitted.
Even if Bensoussan wins
his case, anyone who states politically-unpalatable fact clearly runs
the risk of falling foul of the ‘thought police’. Freedom of expression
all too easily can become ‘hate speech’ in France today. The Bensoussan
case is another attempt to shut down debate. It’s not the first. And it
probably won’t be the last.