An imported conflict? No, a Fourth World War

Posted: August 27, 2014 in World News
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Article source:  Written by: Misha Uzan

During his last press conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared Hamas to the Islamic State (IS). According to him, Israel and the United States are both fighting the same war against radical Islam. But in fact, that war is taking place on more than just these two fronts.

For 15 years, all French presidents without exception have expressed their refusal to allow the conflict in the Middle East to be “imported” inside of France’s borders. Since France has the largest Muslim and Jewish communities in Europe, that fear is widespread and repeatedly comes up every time Israel and its closest neighbors enter another round of hostilities. Yet I dare to say it: the conflict has not been imported into France (or elsewhere).

My point is not to deny the events of July and August: the synagogues that were attacked, the violence against Jewish businesses in Sarcelles or elsewhere. Nor do I wish to deny the numerous attacks that have been ongoing since before the 2000s. On the contrary, I argue that in France, as in Israel, the United States and elsewhere, this is a single conflict.

When flags of Hamas and Jihad adorn the streets of Paris, it is not an imported conflict but the same conflict in France, Israel, and in all democracies. This fight is the one that pits jihadism, Islamist totalitarianism — hence enemies of liberty in general — against democracies.

Should we not fight totalitarianism wherever it is found? When people shout “Death to the Jews” or “Death to Israel” in the streets of the French capital, shouldn’t the French react and protest instead of being afraid of “adding fuel to the fire”, “raising tensions” or “importing the conflict?” In order to not “import the conflict,” should we muzzle those who think that the fighting in Gaza is important not only for Israel but also for the rest of the civilized world?

When the French intelligence service thwarted an attack against the Strasbourg Cathedral, they participated in the war against Islamic totalitarianism. When the Israeli army destroyed tunnels that permitted Hamas members to infiltrate Israel so as to kill soldiers or civilians, they did the same. When American forces bombed Islamic State targets in Iraq, they contributed to the war just as French army did when it fought against al-Qaida in Maghreb and in Mali. These are all just several fronts in the same war.

Of course, I realize that there are strategic reasons and geopolitical interests that push a particular state to act in one country and not in another, at one time and not at another. Nevertheless, it is the still same conflict against the same totalitarianism that is comparable to fascism, Nazism and communism. It is a world war. Although it is left unsaid and even if the heads of state are not always aware of it, WWIII (or WWIV, if you consider the Cold War to be the Third World War), has well and truly begun. It is certainly different from the previous two, but the Cold War was also different. It is a war that could spread over time and space and one that could prove to be even harder than the previous ones were.

In a discussion on Facebook, a friend asked me why the conflict between Israel and Gaza has provoked so many strong reactions, passionate arguments and controversies in francophone communities on social networks while the war between Russia and Ukraine gave rise to so much less, despite the fact that there are notable Russian and Ukrainian communities in France. There are several reasons that could explain this discrepancy: the growing importance of social networks in a long conflict on the one hand and the relative detachment of Russian and Ukrainian communities vis-à-vis their respective countries on the other, or the fact that those of Ukrainian origin in France are often Russian speakers and very divided on the events. But all these reasons are not sufficient. The main reason lies in the fact that the war between Russia and Ukraine, however important it may be in the world and for the world given the powerful sides involved, is only a local conflict. The conflict between Israel and Gaza, on the other hand, which directly involves much smaller players on the international scene, is not a local conflict, but a local expression of a global conflict. And that makes all the difference.

As Elie Wiesel wrote recently, “what we see today is not a war of the Jews against the Arabs or a war of Israelis against the Palestinians. Rather, it is a war between those who defend life and those who glorify death. This is a fight of civilization against barbarism. “

Misha Uzan is a Web Editor for i24news in French and a journalist. He is also the author of “Next Year in Tel Aviv”, recently released book for sale on the Internet.


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