Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Teves 5764 - January 21, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











French Interior Minister: French Government "Suppresses All Antisemitism"
by Arnon Yaffa, Paris

A group of Israeli journalists was invited to France to meet with government officials. The French purpose is to show that France is not anti-Israel.

French Prime Minister Rafarin and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkosi received a delegation of Israeli journalists at their respective palaces and said the problem of antisemitism is a national problem in France unconnected to what takes place in Israel. "Antisemitism existed before the founding of the State of Israel and nobody has the right to justify it on the basis of his objections to the stances of the Israeli government in the Middle East," said Sarkosi. "One can like or dislike Sharon but one cannot condone Madame Cohen of the suburb of Garges les Gonesses getting hit on the head by a rock, as happened to her on the way to the synagogue, because somebody wants to take revenge against Israel."

Sarkosi says there is no peace and quiet these days in France and people are easily drawn into clashes and violence. The government's job is to bring calm and to suppress all antisemitism--a difficult task because every manifestation must be monitored. At a demonstration against the war in Iraq the government arrested two protesters carrying Israeli flags with swastikas. Sarkosi revealed that two imams were deported last week for inciting hatred and terrorism.

The previous left-wing government did not consider burning synagogues criminal antisemitism if the arsonists did not leave words like "dirty Jew" written in graffiti on the walls, but now this attitude has changed and every attack against Jews is viewed as an act of antisemitism. In the northern town of Compiegne a gathering was held to acclaim the World War II puppet Vichy regime for "the reforms it carried out" and was accompanied by messages against Jews written on local houses.

Prime Minister Rafarin told the journalists that the Justice Minister has appointed a judge in every courthouse, to focus on investigating antisemitic attacks. These judges have plenty of work on their hands. Rafarin says he received shockingly antisemitic video tapes shown in Arab countries and he intends to screen them to his ministers.

Sarkosi received the delegation before a meeting of the government while a storm was still raging over his ambitions to appear as the heir to Chirac's presidential legacy without asking him, which constitutes a deviation from the usual rules of French politics. In France the president acts like a monarch who appoints his successor.

For the first time the government initiated the appointment of a Muslim Arab from Algeria as governor of a province in the French Alps, a move that has been referred to as "affirmative action." The appointment was intended to foster the integration of Arabs in the administration of national institutions and to placate Arab anger over the prohibition against Islamic head-coverings in schools. Sarkosi said in France the ruling class is one-dimensional. All of them study in the same prep schools. The appointment of the secular Muslim would bring multiculturalism into the government.

In all of the meetings French officials reiterated Chirac's statements that France is currently working to rehabilitate relations with Israel without altering its basic Middle East policy or its votes along majority lines in the United Nations. Rafarin said Israel is assisting, but is not intervening with the details of the arrangements or the process itself. Sarkosi said the attacks in Israel against the French President are unjustified. In France criticism of Israel is too emotionally charged and acerbic, but this means the existence of the State of Israel is no longer challenged, therefore it is subject to criticism just like France or England. Senate President Francois Founcela expressed reservations about the Geneva Accords, which created controversy within the Jewish community. At a luncheon held in honor of the delegation, Consistoire President Jean Kahn called the French intellectuals who went to Geneva "traitors," an accusation that drew protests from several of the journalists in the delegation.


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