Op-ed: Michel Houellebecq’s ‘Submission’ presents a France that easily succumbs to Islamic rule merely for convenience. What will happen if similar processes happen in Israel? Will Israelis revolt, risking their next paycheck, their next vacation, their next meal? Or will they, too, submit?

The terror attack at the offices of French satirical magazineĀ Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish supermarket in Paris seven months ago shocked France and the rest of Europe. During that time, a book by Michel Houellebecq, “Submission,” was released in France. The book immediately became a best seller and a hot topic of discussion on social media, on talk shows, and in political and literary magazines. A lot of things can be said against the French; but one of the things you can say in their favor is that books can still move them.

It is a futuristic story: The year is 2020, the place is France. Francois Hollande’s presidency ends on a low note. The two political blocs, center-right and center-left, which have been leading the country in turns since the formation of the Fifth Republic, are dying out, and they are replaced by two unusual movements: Marine Le Pen’s neo-fascist National Front, and the fictional Muslim Fraternity led by Mohammed Ben Abbes. On the backdrop of the story, there are terror attacks that it is not quite clear who is responsible for – radical groups, or the outgoing government. In the end, a coalition government is formed under the Muslim president.

France is converting to Islam. The entire European Union, led by France, starts a quick process of conversion to Islam. This happens not because of demographic or political changes, but because of reasons of convenience: People want to keep living their lives, getting their paychecks and their pensions, eat well, have sex, stay away from politics. They are opportunistic, as are, and perhaps primarily, their elite: When Islam is offered to them as the default choice, they head to the mosque.

Michel Houellebecq (Photo: AFP)
Michel Houellebecq (Photo: AFP)


The book doesn’t excel in its literary qualities, and yet it still manages to shock. The reader asks himself whether it’s possible that the enlightened, revolutionary, secular France turns in seven years’ time into a Muslim country, governed by Sharia Law. Could it happen so easily? And, at least in my case, there is another question that arises: Are processes happening here in Israel not, in some way, similar to those happening to France in the book? Is Israel immune?

In “Submission,” Israel serves an interesting role. Francois, the protagonist, is a lecturer of literature in the Sorbonne. His beloved, Miriam, is a Jewish student. When the political situation deteriorates, her parents decide to abandon all and move to Israel, and she joins them. In the e-mails she sends from Tel Aviv, she mentions the terror attacks in Israel as an afterthought: In Israel, terrorism is part of life, part of normalcy. It’s less threatening.

In one of their goodbye meetings, still in Paris, Miriam asks Francois what would happen to his position at the university. He kisses her and says sadly: “I don’t have an Israel.” You, the Jews, have a country to serve as an asylum, you have somewhere to run; we, the French, do not.

This sentence filled my heart with pride: This is indeed why the State of Israel was formed. Miriam and her family will be welcomed here with open arms (especially Miriam, whose physical attributes are described in the book in annoying detail).

The second thought was less lovely. What would happen, I was wondering, if similar processes to those described in the book happen in Israel? What would happen if a government is formed here that undermines the judicial system, scorns the democratic system, incites against minorities, favors factionalism over unity, floods the education system with religious-nationalistic preaching, and fights with the entire world? Will the Israelis revolt? Will they endanger their next paycheck, their next vacation, their next meal, for the values at the core of this state? I’m not so sure.

“I don’t have an Israel,” says the professor from the Sorbonne, and gives up. I read the book and I’m telling you – surrender is not an option, neither is escape. People like us won’t escape. Not to France, not to the US, and not to Berlin. I have nothing but Israel.

As reported by Ynetnews