Anti-Semitism and Anti- Zionism are ideologies that have influenced French foreign policy for more than 200 years. One could speak for hours describing the anti-Semitic attitude and propaganda of the Quai d'Orsay, our State Department, over the past two centuries.

Since 2007, France has a new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who claimed that he wanted to end French diplomatic hostility toward Israel. Before and after his election, he had nice, friendly words for Israel. At the beginning, his words were irreproachable; all of us were charmed.

But, apart from nice words on Israel, Sarkozy has not been so good, as shall be discussed shortly.

However, as much as Sarkozy's dealings with Israel are a cause for concern and disappointment, I doubt that Sarkozy is responsible for France's troubled diplomacy with Israel. Some of his advisers in the Quai d'Orsay, and some Court Jews, are responsible for it -- the same who have always attacked Israel and who would do anything to belong to the so-called French intellectual elite.

In France, Jewish access does not equal Jewish power. In fact, it means the opposite.

Do not expect anything from the Jews who are working with Sarkozy or in the media outlets: they are Court Jews who are willing to sacrifice truth that might seem inconvenient in exchange for personal power, access and influence with the French rulers -- no different from the Jewish courtiers who benefitted while their European monarchs persecuted Jews who were not fortunate enough to be of use to their enemies.

Most of the Jews who are close to power must leave their Jewish ideals behind - and, more often than not, must betray their ethics for fear of being accused of caring more about Jews than about France. Therefore, a Jew with access does not fight for -- or even weakly advocate -- Jewish concerns if he wishes to maintain his precious status in the inner circles of French power. If he does not quickly learn this most important lesson, overnight he will find himself without personal power, without access and without influence.

If a French Jew has something to lose and something to fear, he will not risk what is precious to him by being the kind of bold and courageous Jew that is needed now in France.

Further, Jews in the French media are just as fearful as French Jewish politicians. Some are even more hostile than French non-Jews, so eager are they to prove that they are "truly" French.

It is media brainwashing that enables the French to mask their politically incorrect anti-Semitism behind the politically correct hatred for Israel.

Thanks to the media, anti-Zionism is almost a badge of honor in France. Most see nothing wrong with it, and perhaps even believe that it has nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

The situation is critical for Israel and the French Jews. It is also very critical that any foreign involvement in French politics be productive and not cause harm.

Some American Jewish organizations have had a counterproductive influence in France this past decade.

Some of them tried to interfere in the French political system by pretending they were lobbying in

France; maybe they sincerely thought they were doing the right thing.

They assumed that access was everything. They hired French people who had access to convey the message of their mission statement.

It had the opposite effect.

The French people they hired played it the French way: Instead of conveying the necessary message to the government, they appeased and built good relationships with the government to help the leaders of their organizations in the US.

In fact, they traded their reason-to-be for "access."

The result was only that they weakened the Jewish life and the position of the State of Israel inside the French politics.

Unfortunately, most of the people in America confuse access with influence. American access to French Court Jews is as fruitless as French Jewish access to French Court Jews.

But let us look at facts, not just words. What has Sarkozy provided at this stage when it comes to the Middle-East?

As soon as he was elected, he appointed Jean-David Levitte as his personal diplomatic adviser. Levitte was a troubling choice: a non Jew, who claims to be Jewish because of his name, and who used to be the diplomatic adviser of Jacques Chirac, probably the worst anti-Zionist president ever in France.

So for Sarkozy to keep the same man to change foreign policy did not make sense.

The next day, Sarkozy leaked to the media that his Foreign Affairs minister would be Hubert Vedrine - again very bad news. Vedrine used to be a socialist foreign minister between 1997 and 2002, and probably the most hostile person to Israel since WWII -- someone who now courts Hamas and Hezbollah.

Thanks to the energy and the strong words of some courageous people, this was prevented. Sarkozy eventually relented and appointed Bernard Kouchner instead.

We felt better but started to worry. We did not have to wait long: two months after his election, Sarkozy invited Hezbollah -- which had not been welcome in France even under the regime if Chirac - to Paris for "peace talks" about Lebanon.

A few months later, Sarkozy invited Libya's Qaddafi to Paris for a State visit, and offered him nuclear civil technology.

Then, in July 2008, during the Bastille Day celebration, Bashar el Assad - who had been persona non grata under Chirac - was the guest of honor at our military parade…while Israel's Prime Minister at the time, Ehud Olmert, stood two rows behind.

In January 2009, during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Sarkozy hastily asked Israel to end its use of "disproportionate force."

After that war, at the Sharm el Sheikh conference for the reconstruction of Gaza, Sarkozy said: "We will not accept that the life of Gilad Shalit is endangered; his liberation in exchange for Palestinian prisoners is a priority for France." This request for freeing Arab terrorists was the same demand Hamas was making.

In April, 2009, France refused to boycott the Durban II conference, where Ahmadinejad delivered another revisionist, anti-Semitic hate speech.

In August 2009, Sarkozy spoke in front of the French diplomats, saying: "The Middle-East conflict is not a local one. The whole world is concerned about this conflict. We all know what the solution is. Why should we wait? Everybody knows I'm a friend of Israel and the starting point is freezing colonization."

Does this sound familiar?

U.S. President Obama said the same thing. So did Mahmoud Abbas. Is this what you should expect from a real friend of Israel?

Last year, we had in Paris the election of the director general of the UNESCO. Guess who the official French diplomatic establishment was supporting? Farouk Hosni, who became popular in Egypt when he declared his desire to personally burn Israeli books if he could find any in Egypt. Sarkozy had one of his closest advisers write an op-ed in Le Monde in support of Hosni's candidacy.

The French diplomatic reaction to the Goldstone report surpassed even Obama's hostility to Israel: France did not question or oppose the Goldstone report at all.

When Sarkozy came to Washington DC at the beginning of April 2010, he agreed with Obama about freezing construction in Jerusalem, and supported and reinforced Obama's angry over-reaction, helping to deepen the crisis between Israel and the rest of the world.

After all this, one might think, "But what about his strong opposition to a nuclear Iran?"

Although it seems friendly and courageous, especially as he always links it to the defense of Israel, it is in France's self-interest to oppose a nuclear Iran. If you look at the new ballistic technology developed by Iran, France is well in the range of a nuclear Iran.

France, moreover, should also care about the Iranian threat to France's "friends": the Egyptians, Saudis and other Gulf States. This is also in France's national interest; it is just a bonus that a tough stance on Iran is good for Israel.

Even Pascal Boniface -- the director of a major French foreign policy think tank, who, in 2002, published an article suggesting that Israel should be placed in "The Axis of Evil" - summarized France's current policies: "Sarkozy's diplomacy is very good, he is on the same tracks as Chirac, and even surpasses him: he invited Hezbollah and Bashar el Assad to Paris."

A character trait of Sarkozy is that if he finds someone he trusts, he follows him blindly. But he is also pragmatic and could change part of his team if he understands he has been duped.

Take, for example, Jean-David Levitte, his diplomatic adviser, mentioned earlier. Last year, Levitte declared to a French newspaper: "I'm a French Jew who never experienced anti-Semitism".

This declaration from someone who has spent his whole career in the Quai d'Orsay, is both ridiculous and logical: despite his claims, Levitte is not Jewish.

I wish we could find a real Jew, just one, who could say as much.

Well… we found one. His name is Jacques Attali; he was the closest adviser to Mitterrand and now has become a close adviser to Sarkozy. Last year, when asked by the Israeli daily, Ha'aretz, if anti-Semitism were a problem in France, Attali answered: "Zero! None whatsoever. It's a lie. It's a pure lie. Not true… I think it is propaganda, Israeli propaganda."

Then, asked if anti-Semitism were a problem in the Muslim community in France, he answered: "Absolutely not. They are absolutely adamant to avoid it, wherever and whenever. Of course they are against the Israeli policy in the territories…. It's not a political problem; it is not growing, and in fact it does not exist. If you look at the numbers you cannot prove it."

If we asked the hundreds of victims of violent anti-Semitism in France each year, however, we would probably hear a different story.

Attali and Levitte' s behavior marginalize dissenting voices -- people who have a real desire to fight anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Attali and Levitte simply provide an alibi for the broadest attacks on Israel.

At the same time, ironically, French society repents almost every day for the Holocaust. If the French political environment is biased against Israel and the Jews, there is one exception: Dead Jews.

This may seem a contradiction, but it is just another excuse to criticize the State of Israel even more harshly. Some of our intellectuals even use the imagery of the Holocaust to demonize Israel and Israeli actions: "You, the descendants of the victims of the Holocaust, how can you inflict the same treatment on the Palestinians?" The duty to remember the Holocaust has backfired on the State of Israel and the Jews.

Some Jewish politicians sometimes talk about their ancestors who were deported and sent to gas chambers. But you will never hear them publicly defend Israel -- except to Jewish friends and behind closed doors.

Unfortunately, French people do not see the contradiction between repenting for the Holocaust and protecting the new anti-Semitic blood libel of our time, the Mohammed al Dura hoax, which is preparing the ground for the next catastrophe.

If Nicolas Sarkozy and the French government were serious about fighting anti-Semitism, they would not have to increase the number of police in front of synagogues as they are doing now.

Instead, the French government would take this problem to its roots and expunge the Israel-attacking ideology from its state-owned media.

There is a French saying: "Former politician, friend of Israel; politician, former friend of Israel". Another goes: "Commitments are engaging only to those who listen to them."

When it comes to Israel, these summarize everything.

  • Follow Philippe Karsenty on Twitter

© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Related Topics:  France, Israel
Recent Articles by
receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free gatestone institute mailing list.


Comment on this item

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Gatestone Institute greatly appreciates your comments. The editors reserve the right, however, not to publish comments containing: incitement to violence, profanity, or any broad-brush slurring of any race, ethnic group or religion. Gatestone also reserves the right to edit comments for length, clarity and grammar. All thoughtful suggestions and analyses will be gratefully considered. Commenters' email addresses will not be displayed publicly. Gatestone regrets that, because of the increasingly great volume of traffic, we are not able to publish them all.