France’s Fight Against Islamist Extremism
At AJC Virtual Global Forum 2021, two foreign policy veterans participated in The Max Fisher Annual Program, The Great Debate: Is the Iran Nuclear Deal Worth Saving? The session pitted Ambassador Gérard Araud, Ambassador of France to the United States (2014-19), the United Nations (2009-14), and Israel (2003-06) against Michael Doran, Middle East analyst and National Security Council Senior Director (2005-07). Moderated by Jason Isaacson, AJC Chief Policy and Political Affairs Officer.
Germany and other states have cut ties with some Muslim organizations over their embrace of antisemitic and extremist ideologies, but the EU continues to provide financial support to many of these groups. Nicola Beer, Vice President of the EU Parliament, Monika Hohlmeier, Chair of the EU Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee, and Michael Laubsch, Policy Analyst and Member of the European Citizens‘ Initiative STOP EXTREMISM, discussed the integrity of the EU’s funding standards in a conversation moderated by Michael Sieveking, AJC Transatlantic Institute Deputy Director.
The storming of Capitol Hill on 6 January shocked Americans and Europeans alike. However, to analysts studying the online disinformation and extremist ecosystem, the events were hardly surprising. And there even was a recent precedent: In August 2020, far-right groups brandishing QAnon and neo-Nazi flags had rioted on the steps of the Bundestag. Watch this timely discussion featuring Jacob Davey and Jakob Guhl, both from the UK-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), on how governments and civil society can combat the growing far-right networks spanning across the Atlantic. The event was moderated by AJC Berlin Senior Associate Eric Adamson.
April 24th marked the annual commemoration of the Armenian genocide, the systematic annihilation of approximately 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. U.S. President Joe Biden’s recognition of the genocide was a groundbreaking event, one that American Jewish Committee (AJC) had long been advocating for. AJC CEO David Harris explains why in his latest op-ed in The Times of Israel.
Backed by the city of Hamburg through an official state cooperation agreement since 2012, the Islamic Center Hamburg (IZH) is Iran’s direct affiliate in Germany. According to German intelligence, the IZH is Tehran's most important hub in Europe. "The Islamic Center Hamburg is not only tasked with spreading Iran's antisemitic, anti-democratic, misogynistic, and homophobic state ideology, but serves as a hub for Hamburg’s Hezbollah supporters," writes AJC Berlin Director Remko Leemhuis in this Welt opinion article calling on the city state to ban the IZH and its activities.
The American press has been accused of grossly misrepresenting the French political reality, including the concept of laïcité and President Macron’s campaign against radical Islam. Watch this spirited debate on race, identity, and the fight against radical Islam with James McAuley, Paris correspondent for The Washington Post, and Thomas Chatterton Williams, Paris-based contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine, moderated by AJC’s Simone Rodan-Benzaquen.
Islamist radicalism and violent extremism are on the rise in Western societies, as the deadly attacks recently in Vienna and the beheading of a French teacher chillingly reminded us. Writing in Europe’s best-selling newspaper BILD, AJC Europe Director Simone Rodan-Benzaquen and AJC Berlin Director Remko Leemhuis urge governments to cut ties with Islamist groups propagating anti-Western ideologies, like those linked to Iran’s regime or the Muslim Brotherhood: “We must set our sights on the organizations of political Islam, which are not violent themselves but create the climate for such murders.”
AJC hosted Matthew Levitt, Director of the Washington Institute's Counter Terrorism and Intelligence Program, for a one-hour webinar on his recently launched Hezbollah Worldwide Activity Map, the largest database of open-source information about Hezbollah's worldwide illicit activities. Hosted on the Washington Institute’s website, the interactive map highlights the operations of Iran’s proxy in France and in Europe, including Hezbollah’s role in money laundering, drug trafficking, support of other terrorist organizations, and organized crime.
More and more European countries are declaring all of Hezbollah a terrorist organization. AJC discussed this trend with Ambassador Nathan Sales, U.S. State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Sajid Javid MP, who as Home Secretary initiated the UK ban on Hezbollah, and Hans-Georg Engelke, German State Secretary at the Interior Ministry. On the AJC program, Ambassador Sales revealed that Hezbollah moved large amounts of ammonium nitrate through Europe, the same explosive compound it used in the 2012 suicide bombing in Bulgaria.
With Lebanon’s future at stake, France holds the key to making a difference. Writing in the French weekly Le Point, AJC’s Simone Rodan-Benzaquen and Anne-Sophie Sebban-Bécache write from Paris that President Macron’s efforts will fail unless the government finally gets real on Hezbollah: “By considering Hezbollah as a legitimate interlocutor in the process — engaging its representatives in Lebanon — France is perpetuating the problems. Unless Macron addresses the issue of Hezbollah, nothing will change.”