France, we are told, is not an anti-Semitic country. We would expect, then, a public outcry, high profile arrests, and severe punishment when a total of 350 anti-Semitic acts ranging from insults to life-threatening physical attacks were registered in France in the first six weeks of this year. Moreover, there are at least 10 unreported incidents for every reported one, according to Sammy Ghozlan, director of the BNVCA [National office of vigilance against Anti-Semitism].
If the perpetrators of these acts are arrested and punished, it is a well-kept secret. How about the outcry? When the new intellectual magazine, Revue internationale des livres et des idÃ©es [International Review of Books and Ideas], made its dÃ©but this month with a full-panel ad on corner news stands, the lead article, boldly announced in all-caps on the cover, it promised an exposÃ© of the MENSONGES D’ISRAEL [Israel’s lies] by Naomi Klein, Henry Siegman, and Amira Hass.
Subtle or blatant anti-Zionism is broadcast at all levels, from highbrow magazines to middle-brow newspapers to mass media. Anything that damns Israel--Amnesty International accuses the IDF of using outlawed weapons, IDF soldiers allegedly confess to atrocities, Gazans are deprived of pasta and tomato sauce-- makes headlines. Revelations about Hamas lies, misdeeds, or atrocities are not reported.
This anti-Zionism is not just innocent gossip; it fits into an uninterrupted continuum that runs from Islamic genocidal intentions to institutionalized intellectual anti-Semitism. Hamas rocket attacks, motivated by genocidal intentions, provoked an Israeli defensive operation-- Cast Lead—at the end of December 2008. That upside-down war, in which armed Hamas combatants hid behind women and children, was transformed, by way of Hamas-produced fiction relayed by complicit Western media, into a massacre of the innocent. This “lethal narrative” was then used to justify the behavior of enraged Muslim mobs storming through French cities. Today, in the aftermath of Cast Lead, Israel and the Jews are still subject to widespread attacks in the media. Given the facts on the ground, it would seem wise to replace the outworn “anti-Semitism” label with its contemporary variant --“anti-Zionism.”
It is not, we are told, anti-Semitic to criticize Israel’s policies. However, mobs express their objection to Israel’s policies by attacking defenseless Jewish civilians in Europe, and the U.S. Smooth-talking intellectuals couch their aggressions in sophisticated language. Government officials dress up appeasement policies with sparkling peace symbols. Snide intellectual anti-Zionism ultimately legitimizes the keffieh-clad mobs shouting Death to Israel Death to the Jews.
The dynamic French sociologist-criminologist, Laurent Mucchielli, is representative of the anti-Zionist school of thought. University professor, fellow of the national research center (CNRS), director of a review, author of books and articles, he firmly opposes repressive measures against delinquents, and vehemently denounces the notion of a connection between Islam and terrorism.
In an article published on March 5th by Rue 89, a spinoff blog of the leftwing daily LibÃ©ration, Mucchielli accuses the French Jewish umbrella organization, the CRIF, of stirring up fears of resurgent anti-Semitism at its annual dinner. Why was the CRIF indulging in this self-serving ritual, asks Mucchielli, when the CNCDH [National Consultative Human Rights Commission] reports a steady decline in anti-Semitism?
He mentions in passing that the decline reported by the CNCDH covers the year 2007. So what? The January 2009 peak in anti-Semitic acts, he declares with undisguised exasperation, is precisely a reaction to the Gaza War; it has nothing to do with a “return of anti-Semitism.” A comparable peak, he continues, was observed by the CNCDH in 2000 [sic], during the Intifada, and was attributed primarily to “immigrant origin milieux” expressing their “feelings of exclusion.”
Nothing unusual about that, right? If you were in an immigrant milieu suffering from exclusion, wouldn’t you kick around a Jewish teenager when things got hot?
Mucchielli follows with a four-point proof that the CRIF is wrong.
1. Public opinion polls show that in 1946 only 50% of French people thought a Jew was a normal French citizen; it was up to 77% in 2000.
2. France is not an anti-Semitic country. Disapproval of the negationist statements of Bishop Williamson was near-unanimous, and a meager 17% of those polled think there is too much ado about the Holocaust.
3. “Scientific studies” disprove the notion of a “new Judeophobia,” a return of anti-Semitism, shifting from the far right to the far left, and disguised as criticism of Israeli government policies.
4. There is a troublesome trend in French opinion. It’s “anti-Maghrebi or more exactly anti-Muslim racism” - Islamophobia. And Mucchielli draws on the CNCDH, again for confirmation: “Of all religions [Islam] provokes the most negative images.”
Ah, but the CRIF, like a certain Jewish lobby familiar to American public opinion, puts pressure on the government. “And it works,” declares Mucchielli, regretting that France has the most repressive legislation imaginable against racism and anti-Semitism. He does not explain why this legislation almost results in the arrest and punishment of a Jew basher.
How can an intelligent sociologist reason with the likes of a CRIF when they can’t even understand that anti-Semitism is steadily decreasing? The astronomical rise in attacks against Jews doesn’t count, he argues, precisely because those attacks are if not justified certainly occasioned by an Israeli military operation in Gaza.
The problem, according to Mucchielli, is that Jewish institutions in France are too closely identified with the state of Israel. And this amplifies a corresponding problem of French Maghrebis, or immigrants from North Africa, who identify the broader Jewish community with Israel’s policies. He predicts the situation will worsen with the new “right and extreme-right coalition” Israeli government that includes elements whose “belligerent opinions and intention to resume West Bank colonization” are clearly announced.
Extrapolating from the logic developed above, it would follow that, if and when this right wing Israeli government provokes a peak in attacks against French Jews, they had better not complain about anti-Semitism.
Not content to sociologize, Mucchielli concludes with a recipe for peace between Jews and Muslims in France. Both parties should mutually reject their trouble-making “mythical emotional identities,” cooperate to eliminate prejudice, and, if possible, promote peace in the Middle East as outlined in UN resolutions-- two states for two nations, each sovereign in its land.
Take away the trimmings and you are left with an intellectual knife to the throat of French Jewry.