House of War

Reviewed by Amy K. Rosenthal

Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis
by Bat Ye'or
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2005, 384 pages

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at Ye’or (a Hebrew pen-name which means “Daughter of the Nile”) is a scholar of Islam and a path-breaking researcher on “dhim­mitude”—a term that derives from the Arabic dhimmi, or non-Muslim peoples subject to restrictive sub­ordination in Islamic states. Ye’or has experienced this subordination first hand: The victim of persecution and discrimination in her native Egypt, she was forced to escape into exile in 1957.
She has written three books on the subject: The Dhimmi: Jews and Chris­tians Under Islam (1985); The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude (1996); and Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide (2001). Yet in her latest book she places Europe, and not Islam, on trial, identifying its strains of anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism. Having lived in Europe for decades, Bat Ye’or has witnessed what she takes to be an increasing unwillingness of Western European elites to defend the culture and Judeo-Christian heritage of Western civiliza­tion in the face of Islamist attacks. Her book, she explains, “describes Europe’s evolution from a Judeo-Christian civilization, with important post-Enlightenment secular elements, into a post Judeo-Christian civiliza­tion that is subservient to the ideol­ogy of jihad and the Islamic powers that propagate it.”
According to Bat Ye’or, one espe­cially salient sign of this subservience is reflected in the European position vis-a`-vis the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, a position which reigns with in the European Commission and is echoed in the statements given by those responsible for its foreign policy. She has stated elsewhere, for example, that Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, “repeats that reforms in Arab countries can­not begin until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved. ”She correctly points out that “this puts enormous responsibility on Israel and gives the wrong message--that Israel is block­ing reforms throughout the Arab world.” Here Bat Ye’or merely under­lines a fact that can be verified in the words of many a member of the Euro­pean elite. Former Italian prime min­ister and Europeanist par excellence Giuliano Amato, for instance, has repeated on numerous occasions in the Italian press that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict “puts the entire world at risk and has a spinoff effect.”
The rhetoric of the kind put forth by Solana and Amato, which perme­ates much of the European public discussion of the Middle East, is not of recent vintage, but in fact dates back at least three decades. It is here that Bat Ye’or’s book becomes a useful tool in the hands of readers inter­ested in the roots of European policy toward the Islamic world, offeringas it does a wide range of historical and contemporary documents for that very purpose. In particular, this book will enlighten those who think that European hostility to the United States and Israel dates only from the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and skillfully demonstrates how, why, and when many in Europe abandoned a policy of confrontation and rivalry with the Islamic world for one of conciliation and appeasement....

Amy K. Rosenthal is a freelance journal­ist who lives in Italy. She is completing a doctorate in contemporary European history at Queen Mary (University of London).

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