More Attacks In France

Roger L. Simon reports on more anti-Semitic attacks in France, including the arson of a Jewish community center.

The French government, to its credit, is doing something about anti-Semitism. At the same time, the way in which legitimate criticism of Israel has slid into a tacit acceptance of casual anti-Semitism is one of the largest contributing factors to this violence.

The argument that anti-Semitism is driven by Israel is simply unacceptable. When a few nuts attacked Muslims in the US after September 11, people didn’t make the excuse that the actions of the Muslim world gave them any justification for doing so – in fact, the President of the United States appeared in a mosque specifically to condemn such actions and make it absolutely clear that Muslims are not our enemies.

French Jews are not Israelis. Arguing that the horrendous crimes against them have anything to do with events in Israel is a dodge that provide rhetorical cover for anti-Semitism. At best it’s illogical, and worst it’s abject anti-Semitism. Until such prevalent public attitudes disappear, the unacceptably high levels of anti-Semitism in Europe are unfortunately likely to continue.

10 thoughts on “More Attacks In France

  1. “The argument that anti-Semitism is driven by Israel is simply unacceptable.”

    Maybe for you, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong!

    “the way in which legitimate criticism of Israel has slid into a tacit acceptance of casual anti-Semitism”

    This is your imagination talking Jay. In the mind of any frenchmen I know (including myself):
    1-anti-semitism is unacceptable
    2-anti-Semitism is driven by Israel
    =>the way Israël acts is unacceptable!!!

    French people do not legitimate anti-semitism in any way. We only observe that the wave of anti-semitism is related to the way muslims are treated in Israel and Palestine. It doesn’t mean we accept this violence against jews, the opposite is true.

    We are doing our best to fight anti-semitism, but it is useless unless Israël makes some efforts to solve the situation (and I’m not talking about efforts to kill and/or wall them off Jay!).

  2. “We are doing our best to fight anti-semitism, but it is useless unless Israël makes some efforts to solve the situation”

    Vincent- this is pure bullshit and comes pretty damn close to blaming the victim for these horrendous acts.

    Let me give you an analogy. There have been a number of low level attacks on French-Americans in the aftermath of France/USA rift on Iraq. A woman in houston has her house vandalized, there was an attack on a French owned cleaning business in California, a person I know personally was intimidated and spat on in a bookstore in Wisconsin because she spoke French.

    Never once did I hear any American claim that these attacks wouldn’t stop until France changed its policy. These low level and isolated attacks were always condemned by local authorities and there wasn’t any sentiment that future incidents couldn’t be stopped unless France changed its mind.

    French Citizens are being attacked simply because of their faith. While I don’t doubt that most decent French people of all creeds don’t support this, you’re trying to pass this off as Israel’s fault is cowardly. These people carry the same passport you do, and have no control over Israeli policy.

    Also, if the perpetrators are mostly Arabs, they have a lot more to be mad at than Israel. The three Mahgreb states, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia all have terrible human rights records. Also, your beur population has an awfully good right to be pissed off at the French state. Apart from Zinadine Zidane, Jamel Debouzze and a small number of other prominent Arab footballers and actors, they have been excluded from French mainstream life. I am not sure elevating Tokia Saifi to the tourism ministry post counts as rectifying this problem.

    Do you even have a single Arab in the French National Assembly or the French Senate? I know the homeboys in Sarcelles and Bobigny have shitty lives, but is it the fault of Israel? What we are seeing is misplaced anger manifesting itself in disgusting racist hatred. And to even mention Israel as a cause of this shows a complete moral bankruptcy. It’s atrophy of honesty and intelligence.

  3. “And to even mention Israel as a cause of this shows a complete moral bankruptcy”

    So why did this started with the second Intifada? Just a coincidence?

  4. Vincent-

    Thank you for completely dropping all my points. Since you seem to think that your fellow citizens being attacked is the problem of another country, I guess I couldn’t have expected anything resembling a reasonable rebuttal.

    Very few members of France’s Arab population hail from the Occupied Territories. They don’t know anything about the Israeli situation except from what they see on Lebanese station Al-Mansar beemed in on French satelite. Any coincidence of course that your government is giving this anti-semitic station a “reprieve” to tone down its content (as opposed to an outright ban)? And what explains the rage of people like Dieudonne M’Bala M’bala other than pure hatred? What has Israel done to subject Cameroon lately?

    There is a broader rage amongst the people who commit these attacks. Unless social justice is brought about I have to wonder if scenes in the film “Ma 6-T Va Cracker” are the future of les banlieus. For every Sami Bouajila, Hassan Ahamada, or Mehdi Baala you have 10 young North Africans who fail to make it to success in acting, football or track. And it’s not like they have much in the way of political or business heroes to look up to.

    The President of the major French Jewish Organization, Roger Cuikerman, has said your government is not doing enough to combat anti-semitism. And Cuikerman is not one to scream off the cuff at every incident. He criticzed American groups like the SImon Wiesenthal Center for being excessively critical of France. So don’t take his words lightly.

    You blame Israel, I blame social and economic exclusion of an Arab minority and more importantly spirit of Pierre Poujade which is apparently alive and well in your country once more amongst many intelligentsia.

  5. Justin, I do appreciate the interest you have in french affairs, but I think you are looking locally to a global problem. Why is no one blaming Australia for the anti-semitic attacks of the recent weeks? And in UK? And in Tunisia? Only France has a problem, or is it in the interest of Israel to make the world believe so, as the french jewish community is the second largest in the world, and Israel is desesperately looking for new immigrants? This is NOT a local problem. Don’t fall in the big media tricky games please.

    It is the real nature of brotherhood between human beings that make people like Dieudonné react to the genocide against palestinians (even if France and Cameroun have not been attacked by Israel). Your american individualism makes you forget that you need to fight injustice whoever is the victim? Abolition of slavery was made by white men!! Defending the right of palestinians to live in the land of their ancester (just as much as jews) should be the fight of all people defending democracy and freedom.

    For your information, Dieudonné has been cleaned of any charges of anti-semitism by a court (even though all political forces have asked for particular severity for anyone being REALLY anti-semitic) and all the anti-racism associations have dropped their claims…His sketch was not anti-semitic, it was precisely anti-racism: accusing the orthodox jews colonizing illegally palestinian territories, and killing/leading to death the people living on the land they want to grab is only fair. Anyone claiming for “Eretz Israel” today is just as nazi as a german in 1939 claiming for the Anschluss with Austria and the enlargement of the “living space of the aryen race”.

    I didn’t try to rebute your points because you didn’t bother to read mine! For example, pretending that I am “blaming the victims” (of anti-semitism in France) just prove that you want to twist my words (In my first post, it was explicitely said: “French people do not legitimate anti-semitism in any way”). Every attack against the jewish community is blamed by every political force in France (and by myself of course). Victims of anti-semitism in France have my full support. It also appears that most jews in France (and in the US as well, as 75% of american jews are prepared to vote for Kerry in order to stop Sharon’s cynical game) are also considering Israel responsible for this wave of anti-semitism in the world.

    You blame the social system in France for the rage of young french “beurs” (french citizens with arab origins), but you didn’t answer my (only) point above:”So why did this started with the second Intifada? Just a coincidence?”

    I know our social integration of immigrants is not perfect, but why has this explosion of violence turned against jews only if the “beurs” were actually protesting against the whole system??? Would someone molest only black teachers to protest against the school faculty as a whole? Please, get your argument to make sense or keep them for you.

    The examples of rare immigrants success you give can very much be compared with Will Smith and Cris Rock types of stars…What is the percentage of afro-americans under the poverty line in the US compared to the few minority representative putted on stage for political correctness, demagogic, or economical reasons? (BTW, the figure of persons living under the poverty line in the US has increased for the third year in a row: almost 20% of the US population is living with less than 400$/month! The American Dream?). Don’t blame France for something the US are probably even worst at…(By the way, why would giving the tourism ministry to Tokia Saifi not be valid for integration?). You also seem to forget that it is a lot easier to be successful integrating immigrants from all around the world to a “melting pot” in 300 years than integrating a new religion after 2000 years of identity building of a nation…Americans always tend to forget that History didn’t waited for 1492 to start …

    In conclusion, I think the media are focusing on France for obvious reasons: leading power in the EU, stock of potential immigrants for Israel, refusal to give up on culture at the WTO, and many other reasons…I guess the biais in the media can be observed from any point, right?

  6. I almost forgot to tackle your last point, about Pierre Poujade. It’s very surprising (and good) that you know about him. It would be better if you knew what was behind the name: Poujade represents the philosophy of corporatism…you know, lobbying for only one part of a conflict…his anti-semitism was personal (not excusable of course) but not part of his political program. It is therefore not included in the concept of “poujadism”. The spirit of Pierre Poujade can more be found today in people like Bush or Sharon, looking only at their own interest, ignoring the suffering of others than in France’s political stance for a better divide of power, land and ressources between populations (multilateralism).

  7. You asked for a reasonable rebutal of your points, and I think I’ve answered ALL your points. If you are considering to answer me, please do the same, and don’t pick only the little corners you can actually contest. (for example, why is everyone focusing only on anti-semitic events in France while they are happening all around the globe? Got an answer to that?)

  8. Vincent, thank you for your constructive reply.

    1) Anti-Semitism is indeed a global problem, I have never not recognized this fact. In discussions on Northern Ireland right wing site, I have brought up this same point. However the frequency and severity of attack in France are far greater than Australia or UK. Anti-Semitism is not uniform, some countries have more problems with it than others. France is one of those countries. As for Tunisia, well seeing that it is an Arab state that kicked out all its Jews in brutal ethnic cleansing in 67, I am not sure that’s a state you want to compare France to.

    2) As for the much beleuaguered Dieudonne, I feel his sort of biased statements do not help fair dialogue. While I am happy he was taken to court, and whatever was decided was their business (in this case acquittal), I think there is a bigger problem. Comparisons between Israel and the Nazis are odious and anti-semitic. His statements were not prudent as a popular public figure and he is not alone in uttering these sort of things. I was using him as an analogy for what is wrong with a larger swathe of French and European entertainers. Faux Brotherhod does not justify bigoted statements. Especially when he doesn’t seem to concerned about the current human rights abuses of Paul Biya in the Douala government.

    3) I never said French people condoned these attacks. But to claim that it is “useless” to stop these attacks until Israel changes, is really a huge cop-out. There are a lot of things you could do, including stiffer penalties for offenders, changes to education curriculums (which I read have taken place), and increased security for Jewish institutions. You can’t just wait to have an all-out fight on hatred until Israel changes policies that the offenders find objectionable. I wish you would retract or clarify that early statement, because it seems to indicate a lack of will to unconditionally fight anti-semitism.

    4) Oh, but there is more violence than just these anti-semitic attacks. I’ve read of their brutal rapes and beatings of young girls by beur gangs in paris and marseille suburbs. There has been documented incidents of gang fighting and a general islamic rage developing in parts of the beur community. Tariq Ramadan’s quite popular in these areas these days, and the more that the Le Pen influence remains a quasi-mainstream force in French politics, the more popularity for extremists like Ramadan will grow. Victims of these young alienated men with Islamic fervor are likely to target many people- with Jews high on their list.

    5) I am not an apologist for American exclusion. We do claim to be the land of opportunity, but of course until 30 years ago we had racist housing laws backed up by the government. We still have many flaws and much inequality, and I am not going to throw stones from a glass house. America still is not a land of opportunity for everyone, but we don’t have the same level of exclusion as Europe does. This is not to say I am complacent, but I will recognize tremendous progress that we’ve finally made the last 30 years.

    6) As for melting pot, your nation is a melting pot too. You’ve had Poles and Italians arrive at the turn of the century. You have had Spaniards and Portugese arrive the first half of the 20th century. You’ve had North Africans, West Africans, and Southeast Asians arrive during and after colonialism. You have your communities from Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guyana and Reunion come to from les DOMs-TOMs to the mainland. Your country does not keep racial records on census.. to me this the epitome of a melting pot. It does seem to me that the West Africans, West Indians, and Southeast Asians are better integrated than those immigrants of North African origin. This to me shows specific problems with how France is dealing with that one community. If this is a misconception on my part, feel free to correct me.

    7) Yes France is being targeted for many reasons. The Neo-Con movement in the states hates France with little intellctual backing other than their own narrow vision of the world. France is a potential stock of immigrants for Israel, and Sharon’s comments are out of line. But note than when that story was posted on this site, I condemned Sharon’s comments (as did Jay). As for being a leading power in the EU, yes neo-cons will always resent France being a mid-major power along with the UK (they don’t mind the UK having such status). I am not an apologist for clear anti-French media bias. Indeed, hating the French (along with hating Catholics) is probably the last acceptable bigotry in this country.

    However.. you are also being criticized because your country has been very slow to react to a rising anti-semitism. The number of attacks has been far greater than elsewhere in Europe. The arrests have been few, the blames on Israel have been many. There is substance to these claims

    8) Lastly, I do indeed know the background of Pierre Poujade. I am well aware he was mainly for small business, wanted to recall the 1789 estates-general, made anti-semitic statements to your Jewish President Pierre Mendes-France, etc.. I was just using that as analogy that within various French political ideologies there is anti-semitism. I am not saying it is a majority of French politcos, I am just saying this is not just an Arab problem linked to Israel.

    Hope this satifies you.. I am always happy to engage in debate on France, a country which I have much respect for and think is badly maligned in the United States but will always criticize with vigor and honesty when it deserves it.

  9. Ok, let’s answer that:

    1) and 3) and 7)
    “to claim that it is “useless” to stop these attacks”.
    Could you please not twist my words so much!!! Where did you read this sentence??? Not in my post!! I never said it was useless to stop these attacks, the opposite is true: I said that we were doing our best efforts, but that it would be in the end useless if in the same time Israel was not also changing its approach. I stand with this comment: we can protect all temple with tanks, if the anger raises again and again amongst the muslims, thousands will come up to burn it. Please quote with a copy/paste if you can’t keep the idea the time you scroll down to your post.

    All the solution you are proposing are being put in place (or have already been). Please note that the last attack occured against a FORMER temple…Today, it was only a food distribution center, very lightly recognizable…We cannot post the military at every jewish home. The biggest temple and jewish schools have been protected first, but random and small location may well never be all protected.

    Finally, maybe we should wait untill the police completes the procedure before we call it an anti-semitic event. Remember Marie L before the Summer. It was a made-up story. Yesterday, police officers were “surprised” by some facts they discovered in the temple (grammar mistakes so big and obvious it could be made-up; open locks instead of broken doors…)insurance money could also be the key…It may of course be an anti-semitic attack, but hold your horses until the inquiry is over, or you could have some egg on your face like we all did in June with the fake subway attack!

    2-“Comparisons between Israel and the Nazis are odious and anti-semitic”

    When people like Sharon are in charge, I think the comparison is valid. Walling off minorities, grabing land to foreign countries, requiring more space for its own race’s “natural development” are things that are on both Hitler and Sharon resumes. The Israel of Itzak Rabin had my full support. The Israel of Sharon should be considered as South Africa during the appartheid. They are acting like nazis (numbering prisonners in ink, making the army kill civilians by thousands…). I also stand by this statement: If Le Pen was ruling France, I wouldn’t mind comments saying that France is a racist State.

    Dieudonné was born and raised in France by french (and white) parents. He is french. Moreover, he condemns all forms of racism in his shows, white against blacks AND blacks against white, which only very few actors do.

    4-You may get raped in a french suburb (more chances to win the lottery though), but you will never get shot by a gang war like in L.A. The situation is A LOT more quiet here than in the US.

    5-Of course. Thanks for your “I am not going to throw stones from a glass house”. Please stand by this statement in the future.

    6-Please notice that in my previous post, I used the term “religion”, and not “foreigners”. All the immigrants you’re talking about are catholics. This means that once they know how to speak french, integration is pretty much done. The scheme is very different with muslims.

    The specific problem of this community…I don’t know where to begin with…

    8-Sorry, but this is really only (78% according to the last study) a problem of arab anti-semitism. the traditional white-french anti-semitism is gone for good (I hope, and the statistics are confirming it). Not a single political party (not even the FN) has any anti-semitic argument in its program!

    Justin, if you know France, if you’ve been there, there’s no way you believe that “anti-semitism” is raging the french street?! Tell me you know how jews can enjoy the best of our society just as much as anyone else! This is pure propaganda and you shouldn’t give it more credit than it deserves.

    Ok this is starting to be very very long…

  10. Today, September 2nd, the main suspect has been arrested. His name is Raphaël Benmoha, a jewish homeless who used to work for this community center. His motives were that the owner of the community center didn’t wanted to let him live in a next door flat for free anymore as he was doing for years.

    Look out Jay on your nose, your cheeks, on your forefront…is that egg?

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