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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

France wants to use the "Israeli model" to deal with jihadists

Paris -- In the aftermath of recent terrorist attacks in France, leaders there are calling for national unity in the face of "the war" that ISIS has waged on them. The recent killing of an 86-year-0ld priest, Fr. Hamel, has shown that terrorism can strike anywhere and at anytime, even in the jerkwater towns across France.

Many believe that voters will turn on President Francois Hollande, the current socialist in charge who they deem responsible for the anemic responses that have been shown after each horrific attack which are happening with greater regularity.

The new government is expected to call for new security measures to assuage the fears of the populace, as it did after the January and November attacks last year, and in Nice two weeks ago. They called for a state of emergency and that had been thrice extended. They called in military personnel to patrol streets and monitor sensitive locations (such as mosques, 'no-go' zones, and other Islamic hangouts). 

In addition, the government added to its clampdowns: provoking or apology for terrorist acts is now a criminal offense. A new category of "crimes of terrorist nature" was also created. This has reopened the debate regarding the appropriate balance between liberties and security. 

There are calls by people to "do something," which would allow police and the courts to impose more severe punishments on the perpetrators, or the plotters of terrorist acts before the act is committed, (because the perpetrators are often blown to tiny bite-size bits after an attack, or are killed by the police).

The former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, was the first on Tuesday to make a statement asking the government to "implement without delay the measures [the conservative opposition] has been asking for months." He said the government ought to put an end to "legalese nitpicking," but that's what others describe as the rule of law.

The Socialist French government has done linguistic gymnastics insisting it would respect constitutional order, and not seeing the current "war" against ISIS (as referred to by Hollande) as a reason to suspend civil liberties. 

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls in his speech to Parliament last week asked for the state of emergency to be renewed. He said the government would "turn down the temptation to propose arbitrary measures or steps that would run counter to [France's] democratic and constitutional principles." The example he gave was how they resisted the conservative Les Repubicains party's calls for severe consequences for those with "direct or indirect connections" with terrorist groups, either by expelling foreigner or interning French citizens.

The French have recently been discussing at length the Israeli model, which is based on a clear awareness of the risk of a terror attack on the population. It calls for armed patrols in pubic transports and systematic controls at entrance points of public places.

That sounds like it reduces individual freedoms but in reality, it allows people to feel more secure in attending public events. 

Francois Heisbourg, special adviser at France's Strategic Research Foundation, said "It seems clear to me the Israeli model is the direction we should be moving towards." Heisbourg is also a former adviser to Socialist governments and has co-authored several government papers on terrorism. He has publicly called Hollande's response to terror attacks "inefficient and laughable" in terms of intelligence and prevention.

"We have to move to a life where you can't carry backpacks in public spaces, where bags are seriously and systematically searched, not by tired employees who only take a quick look," Heisbourg said.

Personally, I'd rather go to an event where I go through a metal detector, for example, and backpacks aren't allowed. That would give me the freedom to go where I might otherwise not want to take the chance.

One security firm head, who wished to remain anonymous, raised doubts about the Israeli model. "Do we want closed terrestrial borders and to bring back the draft?" he asked.

Yes, if that's the only thing it would take to combat Islamic terrorism. The security firm talking head did not offer an alternative and I doubt he has any constructive ideas.

But it's Francois Hollande who faces the political fallout next year when he's up for re-election. With every new terrorist attack, his chances of winning another term diminish.

That's a good thing.