Antisemitism in France
If you want more detail about the activities of the CRIF after reading this, try this piece from Michele Sibony, also from UJFP, published on the AIC website.
To answer your question, there’s basically no credibility to the e-mail below concerning anti-Semitism in France. By the way, what’s that fairy story about Patricia and I having an underground wedding and walking through a garage on our way to the marriage hall in order to avoid a potential antisemitic attack? You’ve got a fertile imagination – it sounds like good material for a thriller fiction novel. I can get into the details about our wedding (which was rather funny) another time but your description sounds like a report from another planet.
You said to Robin Zilberg that you’d pass that alarmist e-mail around [See text below – ed]. Bad reflex: I hope you haven’t done so. It’s a good thing you asked me about the situation in France. It just goes to prove, once again, that internet is the best and the worst tool around. Great stuff for accessing information quickly. But deadly when it comes to spreading false rumors, defamation and dubious propaganda (not to mention, pornography, organized crime, pedophile networks, hate literature, etc.). One should never forget to use internet with caution. Anyway, it might be an idea to pass on my reply to the same correspondents to whom you sent that “anti-Semitism” alert on France.
Concerning the author’s e-mail (who wrote that thing anyway? it’s not even signed), he says: “Nowhere have the flames of Anti-Semitism burned more furiously than in France.” You don’t have to be a history scholar to realize that such prose is at best a gross exaggeration and at worst totally unfounded. From the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem under the Roman Empire to the Spanish Inquisition, from the pogroms in the Middle Ages to the Shoah under Hitler, who could believe that anti-Semitism is worse in France right now than it has ever been before anywhere else? This mere phrase (the third sentence in which our anonymous source is quoted) is sufficiently implausible to discredit the rest of the text.
However, the person who sent off the e-mail in the first place (and who comments the lengthly quotes) starts off by saying in the first paragraph that there are now between 5 and 6 million Muslims about 600,000 Jews in France. This statistic is correct but the very fact that he gives those figures is suspect. There are also significant proportions of the French population which are of Italian, Portuguese, Armenian and Polish origin, not to mention the numerous communities from sub-Sahalian Africa and from the West Indies. So what? Canada is even more multi-cultural than France. As for the 600,000 French Jews and 6 million French Muslims (out of a total population of 60 million), they basically get along very well. In fact, most of them are of the same origin. Most French Jews are Sephardic, originally from former French colonies in North Africa (Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco). And most French Muslims are of Arabic or Berber origin from those same countries. So they share the same cultural references (music, cooking, the Mediterranean mentality). Very close to my neighbourhood in Paris is an area they call “Little Tunisia”, where Tunisian restaurants, shops, synagogues and mosques are situated next to each other. The restaurants are mostly kosher and halal. The clientele in most of them are both Jewish and Arabic (when food is kosher, it’s also halal – a practising Muslim can do his shopping in a kosher boutique and be perfectly in conformity with the Koran concerning dietary rules). On the weekends, you can see the older folks sipping tea on sidewalk terraces in that neighbourhood, discussing in the Tunisian Arabic dialect. But don’t be mistaken by appearances: half of them are Jewish! They speak French at work, Arabic at home (or with friends) and Hebrew in synagogue. There’s never been any problem between the different communities in that part of town.
By the way, the anonymous author of that e-mail (below) calls on internautes to boycott France. That of course is ridiculous but what’s revealing is his statement: “Only the Arab countries are more toxically anti-Semitic.” It’s questionable to affirm that, in general, Arab countries are anti-Semitic. Some of them are of course (I don’t know to what extent they are toxically so – it depends on the country) but most of them are not. With sweeping affirmations like that, the author appears to be void of any credibility.
In that alarmist e-mail, the anonymous author talks about numerous incidents of anti-Semitism in France. In fact some of them are true but he exaggerates the phenomena. What he doesn’t say is that there are many more Islamophobic incidents targeting Muslim citizens. Unfortunately, racism exists just about everywhere. Once again, that’s not the scoop of the century. The kind of ordinary and stupid racist incidents you can see in Canada, the United States, etc. also exist in Europe (including France). Nothing new under the sun. Most racism in France today is targeted against Blacks, Arabs (because they come from former French colonies – mainstream French society hasn’t yet digested that) and more generally immigrants. You get the picture – it’s like that in most developed countries in times of economic crisis. As for the Jewish community in France, you know that it’s been through hard times in the past, particularly over the last century (from the Dreyfus affair up to the Holocaust). But since the post-war period and especially today, the Jewish minority in France is perfectly integrated, totally accepted by its fellow citizens and even courted by the political elites and by the press. You may say that French Jews have paid the price of acceptance with the Nazi genocide, but today, the Jewish community is thriving. There is absolutely no comparison with former historical periods when Jews had to deal with official and widespread anti-Semitism. Dreyfus is dead and so is Pétain. By the way, even during the Second World War, France was the country in occupied Europe where the largest proportion of its Jewish community survived (two thirds of French Jews in the 1940s lived to talk about it). Despite the fascist pro-Nazi regime presided by Pétain, large sectors of the French population hid Jewish children on farms and most of them survived. But let’s get back to 2009.
The incidents the anonymous author of this e-mail referred to are partially attributable to the attitude of the CRIF (Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France), the local equivalent of the CJC (Canadian Jewish Congress). In other words, the self-proclaimed Jewish leadership (which in fact only represents about 20% of the community here) is more Zionist than the Israelis, unconditionally defending the repressive policies of Olmert, Livni, Barak, Netenyahu and the entire clique in power in Tel Aviv, covering Israeli war crimes in Gaza during the January offensive. In so doing, they have succeeded in confusing a lot of Frenchmen, who now assimilate France’s Jewish community with the political, military and diplomatic interests of the State of Israel. A number of French citizens (and not just those of Arabic origin) have gobbed this up lock, stock and barrel. A small minority of them have stupidly taken it out against Jewish targets (synagogues, kosher shops, Jewish community centers) in reaction to Israeli repression. As if a Jewish citizen in Paris or Marseilles was responsible for the massacre of 1,300 Palestinians in Gaza! But it’s not so much these gullible and feeble-minded idiots who vandalized Jewish buildings that I’m most angry against. It’s the idiots at the leadership of the CRIF who make their countrymen believe that all French Jews support Israel unconditionally. If any of the destinees of this e-mail read French, you’ll find in the attached file a press release put out by my association (UJFP – the French Jewish Peace Union) on this very subject. It sheds some light on the responsibility (or should I say the irresponsibility) of certain Jewish community “leaders”. With leaders like that, we can do without enemies.
By the way, demonstrations took place in most French cities in January – as they did around the world – to protest against the massacre in Gaza. No less than five Jewish organizations marched in those demonstrations in Paris. Here’s the list: Union Juive Française pour la Paix, Une Autre Voix Juive, Réseau International des Juifs Antisionistes, Israéliens Contre l’Occupation (a group of Israeli pacifist expatriates) and Union des Juifs pour la Résistance et l’Entraide. The former organization is a founding member of the CRIF (which was created in 1945 after the Liberation). In other words, they constitute an organized dissidence within the officially-recognized Jewish leadership. Although Jewish opinion is divided on the Israeli-Palestinian question, it is only the pro-Israeli spokespersons of the official leadership who are regularly quoted in the press and supported by government circles. This gives the French people a false impression of the Jewish community, portraying it as 100% pro- Israeli. The reality of the Jewish community in France in quite different from this simplistic image.
Anti-Semitic incidents have indeed occurred each time the Israeli army leads a bloody offensive against its Arab neighbours. The same thing happened in 2006 during Israel’s war against Lebanon. It’s sad but not all that surprising. Between various Israeli military adventures, when the dust settles and the headlines concentrate on domestic issues (notably layoffs, delocalizations, stock market crashes, bailing out banks and economic turmoil in general), ordinary racism takes its toll once again. But this time its the Blacks, the Arabs and the immigrants who bear the brunt of discrimination.
To conclude, don’t believe every thing you read in the papers, don’t believe everything you read on internet and don’t be trigger-happy to send out just any e-mail on the world wide web until you verify your sources.
Aside from that, the world’s a great place to live in, isn’t it? (Jewish humour). Have a good day,
Richard Wagman, Honorary President of the French Jewish Peace Union (www.ujfp.org)
Bad News From France – VERY Bad
Once again, the real news in France is conveniently not being reported as it should. To give you an idea of what’s going on in that country where there are now between 5 and 6 million Muslims and about 600,000 Jews, here is an E-mail that came from a Jew living in France.
Please read! “Will the world say nothing – again – as it did in Hitler’s time?” He writes: “I AM A JEW — therefore I am forwarding this to everyone on all my e-mail lists. I will not sit back and do nothing. Nowhere have the flames of anti-Semitism burned more furiously than in France. In Lyon, a car was rammed into a synagogue and set on fire. In Montpellier, the Jewish religious center was firebombed; so were synagogues in Strasbourg and Marseilles; so was a Jewish school in Creteil – all recently. A Jewish sports club in Toulouse was attacked with Molotov cocktails and on the statue of Alfred Dreyfus, in Paris, the words ‘Dirty Jew’ were painted. In Bondy, 15 men beat up members of a Jewish football team with sticks and metal bars. The bus that takes Jewish children to school inAubervilliers has been attacked three times in the last 14 months. According to the Police, metropolitan Paris has seen 10 to 12 anti-Jewish incidents PER DAY in the past 30 days. Walls in Jewish neighborhoods have been defaced with slogans proclaiming ‘Jews to the gas chambers’ and ‘Death to the Jews.’ A gunman opened fire on a kosher butcher’s shop (and, of course, the butcher) in Toulouse, France. A Jewish couple in their 20’s were beaten up by five men in Villeurbanne, France (the woman was pregnant). A Jewish school was broken into and vandalized in Sarcelles, France. This was just in the past week.”
“So I call on you, whether you are a fellow Jew, a friend, or merely a person with the capacity and desire to distinguish decency from depravity, to do – at least – these three simple things:
First, care enough to stay informed. Don’t ever let yourself become deluded into thinking that this is not your fight. I remind you of what Pastor Neimoller said inWorld War II: ‘First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.’
Second, boycott France and French products. Only the Arab countries are more toxically anti-Semitic and, unlike them, France exports more than just oil and hatred. So boycott their wines and their perfumes. Boycott their clothes and their foodstuffs. Boycott their movies. Definitely boycott their shores. If we are resolved we can exert amazing pressure and, whatever else we may know about the French, we most certainly know that they are like a cobweb in a hurricane in the face of well-directed pressure.
Third, send this along to your family, your friends, and your co-workers. Think of all of the people of good conscience that you know and let them know that you – and the people that you care – about need their help.
The number one bestselling book in France is….‘September 11: The Frightening Fraud’ which argues that no plane ever hit the Pentagon!
Please Pass This On, Let’s not let history repeat itself, thank-you for your time and consideration.”