I’ve always had a love for things French, from Rabelais to my favorite movie director, Eric Rohmer. I have a few blogging friends in Paris, and I love to read about their beautiful city. But sometimes I wonder — has there ever been a positive thing said about Israel by a French leader? And why not?
I support Israel’s current bombardment of Lebanon, although I’m sad that civilians are being injured and killed. But why is Jacques Chirac always the first out of the gate to call Israel’s offensive as “totally disproportionate”?
Bachar El Assad and Jacques Chirac
“One could ask if today there is not a sort of will to destroy Lebanon, its equipment, its roads, its communication,” Chirac said during an interview.
What would he do if Spain went into France tonight and kidnapped some French soliders? Wouldn’t the French people want to take action? Was the storming of Normandy by the Allies a “totally disproportionate” action? Or was the Nazi presence acceptable? Was the storming of the Bastille disproportionate?
France has a long history in the Middle East, including past colonies in Morocco, Lebanon, Algeria and Tunisia. Millions of Arabs murdered by French soldiers in the past. Maybe that explains French guilt over the Arab world. Does it also explain why Chirac was the only western head of state at Syrian despot Hafez el Assad`s funeral?
These two men had a long relationship. After being pressed by Jewish groups, Chirac finally questioned Assad about former Nazi Alois Brunner, who was living in Syria. Brunner, a top Nazi operative, is believed responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 Jews deported to death camps between 1942 and 1945. He once was commandant of the squalid French transit camp at Drancy. Assad’s simple answer to Chirac’s question: he would “examine the issue.” I guess that was good enough.
President Giscard d’Estaing provided asylum to Ayatollah Khomeini who resided in Neauphle le Chateau near Paris and, on 1 February 1979, arrived in Teheran on a special Air France flight. Two generations earlier, France extended similar hospitality to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, a close friend of Heinrich Himmler and enthusiastic advocate of the “Final Solution.” Although the French government was obligated to detain this war criminal and bring him to law, they lodged him in a villa in the fashionable Paris suburb of Rambouillet.
General de Gaulle was well-known for using the phrase: “le peuple juif, sûr de lui meme et dominateur” (the Jewish people, self-confident and domineering). De Gaulle was an admirer of Charles Maurras, a monarchist-nationalist-Catholic thinker and politician with strong anti-Semitic feelings.
According to the Canadian historian Henry Weinberg, “De Gaulle implicitly characterized the Israelis as arrogant, expansionist war hawks who seek every opportunity to achieve their imperialistic aims, as militarists spoiling for a fight. He also ‘invited’ the Jews to keep a low profile, implying that Israel’s right to live in security was linked to the ‘humility’ of its political behavior.
Which basically meant that Jews were OK, as long as they remained wimpy. You know, like the nice non-aggressive ones who agreed to go onto the friendly trains to Germany.
A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Life is a Cabaret