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Boycott France?
May 15, 2002 3:33 PM   Subscribe

Boycott France? An American Jewish Congress trade ad placed in Variety and the Hollywood Reporter compares anti-Semitic violence to that experienced during WWII. Some groups are also calling for a boycott of the Cannes Film Festival. Woody Allen doesn't agree. Can the actions of an idioticĀ  minority really justify a boycott?
posted by laukf (45 comments total)

 
We are not calling for a boycott right now.

I think you got the wrong domain name, then.
posted by gramcracker at 3:48 PM on May 15, 2002


I am boycotting France and have given up on Renaults, French bread, French wine and most of all French kissing.
posted by Postroad at 3:48 PM on May 15, 2002


"Can the actions of an idiotic minority really justify a boycott?"

Some people think so.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:55 PM on May 15, 2002


Excuse my French, but what a load of CRAP this is ! I really can't think of anything more insulting to me than some American organization trying to tell my government what they should or shouldn't do.
Farkers rejoice.
posted by XiBe at 4:12 PM on May 15, 2002


I don't believe in the boycott, but I do recognize that there's a problem in France. My Israeli friend told me a couple of days ago that when she stays at her grandparents' house in Paris, she feels absolutely under siege. Not that Paris felt all that safe to her before, but now she's careful not to speak Hebrew in public or give any other inkling that she's Jewish or Israeli (which is, fortunately, easy to do as she speaks English with a lovely educated London accent). She said the environment is absolutely unwelcoming.

From what I'm reading in the French press and hearing on the radio, while it may be an uncivilized minority that is committing the anti-Jewish, anti-Israeli acts, there are huge gaps of silence from many officials and a good deal of the public, gaps where loud protests and angry condemnations of the attacks should be instead. Any study of antisemitism and the French people shows you, in any case, that since at least the 15th century it has never been far from the surface.
posted by Mo Nickels at 4:25 PM on May 15, 2002


I really can't think of anything more insulting to me than some American organization trying to tell my government what they should or shouldn't do.

I'm sure DeClerk felt the same way when everybody started boycotting So. Africa.

While I think it's kind of stupid to "boycott France" because of either the actions of some young thugs on one hand or a lack of sufficiently pro-Jewish sentiment from gov't leaders on the other, if they have the numbers to make the boycott hurt, then more power to 'em.
posted by Ty Webb at 4:45 PM on May 15, 2002


Before you argue for Boycotting France for anti-semitism, do learn that there's only one "s" in Dreyfus. I just e-mailed them on that point.

The French can't be anti-semitic: only 18% of the electorate voted for Le Pen!

Actually, the French have been morality-challenged/blind for, at the very least, decades; well only my theory: collective guilt for WWII (Resistance?! Ha!) and prior events, combined with a disdain for religion (chiefly via Catholicism). Thomas Friedman offered interesting thoughts on the subject in the third, and second to last paragraph of his NYT column today.

In any case, a boycott would be immensely entertaining, satisfying, and not inappropriate (most Jews have been contemptuous of the French for decades).
posted by ParisParamus at 4:50 PM on May 15, 2002


In any case, a boycott would be immensely entertaining, satisfying, and not inappropriate (most Jews have been contemptuous of the French for decades).

this kind of thinking always helps. this is the kind of thing that really builds bridges between cultures. bravo!
posted by rebeccablood at 5:33 PM on May 15, 2002


I've built plenty of bridges: got two degrees there. Learned the language. Dated. Had fun. How about a little morality toll booth on that bridge?
posted by ParisParamus at 5:35 PM on May 15, 2002


This would be a pretty easy boycott to participate in. Do the French actually export anything to the US besides overpriced wine and stinky cheese?

As if I'd need any additional reasons to not buy a Peugot.
posted by groundhog at 5:53 PM on May 15, 2002


Before jumping off the board, note what they are actually saying (and they are not asking the govt to do anything, by the way):
"We are not calling for a boycott right now. Our goal is to inform the public of the anti-Semitic attacks in France, and the inadequate response from the French Government. We urge people to write letters to consulates and ambassadors. We encourage people to discuss the situation openly. Should the attacks continue to spiral out of control without proper response from the French government, we will reevaluate our recommendation. "
posted by Postroad at 6:05 PM on May 15, 2002


I think the primary mode of boycott would be vacations, and perhaps wine. Minitel never caught on here : )
posted by ParisParamus at 6:05 PM on May 15, 2002


Geez, the NAACP needs to fix their webserver. I got source code.

Ron Rosenbaum in the Observer has written recently of European anti-Semitism: 'Second Holocaust', Roth's Invention, Isn't Novelistic and Does Le Pen Augur Another European Darkness? Some theorize that Europe's easy tolerance of intolerance, when it comes to Jews, stems from a desire for moral equivalence ("See, they're just as bad!"), others from mere transference ("Must destroy the symbol of our guilt!"), still others from compassion fatigue. My theory tends toward the latter -- at least, I believe that's a broader, more charitable explanation. Put it this way: making generalizations about 300 million people is foolhardy, but the rise in violence and petty hate probably stems from the same impulses that underly such displays throughout history, a glee in choosing a class of people to blame and excoriate. A lot of Arabs do this with the West; Americans used to do it to the Japanese, and the Arabs, during our economic malaises.

What has happened here is that the political anger -- the anti-Zionism -- has given cover to the more extreme forms that mostly dare not speak. And the political anger does stem, probably at least in part but possibly much more concretely, from the knowledge that the Present Situation in the Middle East is to a great extent the fault of Europe, for making their lands feel unsafe for Jews. It's only in the last decade that Jewish populations began to rise again. Why else would so many feel safer in a fortified enclave just 12 miles wide at one point? Why else would they feel they had no choice but to make a last stand? Zionism began in Europe, gained momentum after events like the Dreyfus affair, and accelerated as one country after another succumbed to the cancer.

The deep irony is that everyone said this was going to happen in America, as hatred of Muslims boiled over. Oddly enough, save for a few scattered incidents, it hasn't.

It may be extreme to demand that these particular root causes be examined for clues to "understanding" the extreme behavior of the Jewish state. But certain moralists demand much lower standards of "understanding" for a people which, after all, has 56 countries to which they may flee. Some say (I used to) that America is a haven for Jews, but now I wonder if once again we're just letting Europe off the hook. They claim solidarity with Palestinian militancy, but when confronted with just 13 hard cases the white gloves whip out. Solidarity, or fear?

One of my friends is fond of the claim that it's religious fundamentalism that makes the Jews cling to their land so tenaciously. I rather think the history of finding themselves murdered just about everywhere else might play into it.
posted by dhartung at 7:32 PM on May 15, 2002


Dhartung, great post but I am having trouble understanding this part:

It may be extreme to demand that these particular root causes be examined for clues to "understanding" the extreme behavior of the Jewish state. But certain moralists demand much lower standards of "understanding" for a people which, after all, has 56 countries to which they may flee.

What does this mean, are you talking about Muslims in America having a place to run in case America turns against them?
posted by chaz at 9:09 PM on May 15, 2002


That *was* a great post.

As to your question, chaz, I think he's saying that it's morally lazier for Europeans to tolerate Arab/Muslim "idiosyncrasies" since the stakes aren't as high -- i.e., Muslims as a global population (although I hate lumping them together as there is a lot of cultural variance across the spectrum, but for the purposes of this discussion it's okay...) aren't in danger of genocide, and especially never have been at the hands Fortress Europa. Whereas the Jews and greater Europe share a sordid history.

Then there's the other point -- i.e., that Muslims could very well have become the scapegoats in the United States that Jews have historically been in Europe ... except this has failed to materialize, largely owing to our national character, our multifarious origins and our geographic and economic expansiveness.

Was that sort of what you were getting at, dhartung?
posted by donkeyschlong at 9:57 PM on May 15, 2002


(Morally? Perhaps I should have said intellectually?)
posted by donkeyschlong at 9:58 PM on May 15, 2002


(most Jews have been contemptuous of the French for decades).

Hmm, I must have missed that poll. Where can I find it?
posted by Ty Webb at 11:01 PM on May 15, 2002


I think we should invade France and convert them to Judaism.
posted by matteo at 2:01 AM on May 16, 2002


The french must be collectively tearing their hair out at the prospect of an american boycott. No americans in france wondering why nobody speaks english.
posted by johnnyboy at 2:59 AM on May 16, 2002


Errr... please. The attacks against synagogues in France are not related to old fashioned European anti-semitism. Indeed the far right in France is too busy being anti-Arab to be anti-Jewish. There is widespread fear of the Arabs in France (which Le Pen has capitalized on)- the Jews are a "European" minority. For all of his (detestable) revisionism, Le Pen's party has never (to my knowledge) attacked French Jews- quite unlike their attacks on French Arabs.
The attacks are a transfer of Middle East politics to France since (please note) it is almost a certainty that the attackers were (mostly if not exclusively) muslim N.African immigrants attacking (what they perceived as) Israeli targets.
This is conflated on purpose with another issue, which is that a large majority of the French do not tolerate Israel's occupation and treatment of Palestinians. This is absolutely legitimate (indeed in my opinion morally correct) and whoever thinks they should "boycott France" because of this are absolutely entitled to- as long as they shed off this idiotic "anti-jewish France" rhetoric that they cling to.
By the way: Can attacks by Arab semites against Jew semites be characterized as "anti-semetic"?
posted by talos at 3:00 AM on May 16, 2002


Hmm, I must have missed that poll. Where can I find it?

Just anecdotes. Parents, friends, acquaintences,

I don't think the French are specifically anti-Jewish; just indifferent or significantly blind to moral dilemmas involving the non-French.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:32 AM on May 16, 2002


may I present the new stand up comic parisparamus, loves a laugh whlist spinning yarns 'bout hypocrisy
posted by johnnyboy at 5:44 AM on May 16, 2002


I don't think the French are specifically anti-Jewish; just indifferent or significantly blind to moral dilemmas involving the non-French.

or:
"I don't think the Americans are specifically anti- (Black- Jewish- Arab - you name it); just indifferent or significantly blind to moral dilemmas involving the non-Americans."

this kind of crap doesn't take the discussion anywhere.
I mean, on MeFi I'd expect something more intelligent than the usual "why do those silly frogs like Jerry Lewis and eat smelly cheese and wear those berets?".
You guys would definitely flame somebody's ass reading the same crap applied to Americans ("those dumb gun-loving, racist, John Wayne types") and I wouldn't blame you for it.
The France-USA love-hate thing is very interesting to analyze, but not like this.
And anyway, just a couple of posters here actually considered that the French right is much more anti-Arab immigrants than it is anti-Jewish (being anti-Israel's current policies as we discussed 1,000,000,000 times does not amount to being anti-Semites, Sharon apologists' opinion notwithstanding)
posted by matteo at 7:10 AM on May 16, 2002


bravo matteo bravo.

I'll venture to shift the conversation. (double expresso, twist of lime, glass of iced water...danke, we shall go to...Monaco?...ah), I (strikes match) liked woodys film since my sister dragged me to a Allen film- fest...must have been 1979?, Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor. "Take the Money and Run" (1969) and "Annie Hall" (1977?). I was ...12....yup, man, i never laughed so hard in my life...well close. the...out the window...walks away with the glass. I didnt savvy all the sex stuff in AH, but those early comedies are somewhat Woodys roots per say. well, i always said that woody would jump start his career with a wacky-zany production. Take Jerry lewis...

Weblog as Conversation?
posted by clavdivs at 9:12 AM on May 16, 2002


The French are in denial. Stop denying it.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:04 AM on May 16, 2002


thats plausable paris
posted by clavdivs at 3:19 PM on May 16, 2002


plausibleparispariah
posted by ParisParamus at 3:46 PM on May 16, 2002


I would take talos's rationalizations more seriously if a million Parisians had marched against tangible anti-Jewish violence rather than the political impossibility of a LePen win. (And if they were serious about LePen they should have gotten the 15 left parties together and endorsed one slate, before it got to a run-off. Talk about quixotic approaches.)

And let's not forget the very old-fashioned "shitty little country" comment ...
posted by dhartung at 6:41 PM on May 16, 2002


Errr... please. The attacks against synagogues in France are not related to old fashioned European anti-semitism.

So, as long as it's the Arab immigrants committing these attacks, it's not as bad as the good ole' skinheads or Nazis doing it? What's your point? Jews are being attacked for simply being Jews.

Indeed the far right in France is too busy being anti-Arab to be anti-Jewish.

Says who? You haven't done your homework, eh? Le Pen and the gang are not as extreme as the Muslim Brotherhood that operates freely in France's mosques, but they're anti-Semitic nonetheless.

There is widespread fear of the Arabs in France (which Le Pen has capitalized on)- the Jews are a "European" minority.

If the Jews are a "European" minority in France (which is not entirely true as the majority of the Jewish population in France is of North African origin - still, they're well integrated), then why the quotes?

Oh, and the Roma (Gypsies) in the Czech republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and other countries in central and eastern Europe, could also be considered a "European" minority (that is by virtue of being residents of those countries for centuries.) That doesn't stop the local racists from beating and killing the Roma.

In fact, the only reason these bigots in Slovakia and Poland are not killing Jews instead of Gypsies is because they killed their Jews off in the 1940's.

For all of his (detestable) revisionism, Le Pen's party has never (to my knowledge) attacked French Jews- quite unlike their attacks on French Arabs.

Sources please.

The attacks are a transfer of Middle East politics to France since (please note) it is almost a certainty that the attackers were (mostly if not exclusively) muslim N.African immigrants attacking (what they perceived as) Israeli targets.

Israeli targets? How is a Hebrew school in Marseille an Israeli target? These are Jews living in France, most of them are not Israeli. They're being singled out and attacked because they're Jews. Who cares about the motives of the Arab anti-Semites?

Btw, the attackers, who're mostly Muslim North Africans, have quite a history of beating, raping and murdering Jews back home (Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco.)

This is conflated on purpose with another issue, which is that a large majority of the French do not tolerate Israel's occupation and treatment of Palestinians. This is absolutely legitimate (indeed in my opinion morally correct) and whoever thinks they should "boycott France" because of this are absolutely entitled to- as long as they shed off this idiotic "anti-jewish France" rhetoric that they cling to.

No one is conflating anything - why are you taking it there?

You want to know what's "morally correct"? Protesting when your fellow Greeks deface and vandalize synagogues and Holocaust memorials.

Also, take a look at this. I especially liked the part about Greece's younger generation being among the most anti-Semitic in Europe.

By the way: Can attacks by Arab semites against Jew semites be characterized as "anti-semetic"?

OMG! This topic, the very definition of the word "anti-Semitism," has been covered so many times already - anti-Semitism is a misnomer that was coined by a German Jew-hater, Wilhelm Marr, to mean Jew-hatred. Anti-Semitism means Jew-hatred and nothing but. And yes, many Arabs, both Muslim and Christian, can be called anti-Semites because they hate and, in the French case, attack Jews.
posted by Stumpy McGee at 1:32 AM on May 17, 2002


Btw, the attackers, who're mostly Muslim North Africans, have quite a history of beating, raping and murdering Jews back home (Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco.)

I have no clue about Algeria, but in the other two countries you mentioned, this isn't true.
posted by chaz at 1:41 AM on May 17, 2002


"I have no clue about Algeria, but in the other two countries you mentioned, this isn't true."

Here's some info on Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.

That's not the best site for good history, but still good info.
posted by Stumpy McGee at 2:07 AM on May 17, 2002


Good post, Stumpy. Whenever anyone is attacked because they belong to a religious, ethnic or any other group then all groups are in danger.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:36 AM on May 17, 2002


So, as long as it's the Arab immigrants committing these attacks, it's not as bad as the good ole' skinheads or Nazis doing it? What's your point? Jews are being attacked for simply being Jews.
As long as it's the Arab immigrants commiting these attacks one cannot claim (as many have done in this thread that the "French" are anti-semetic which was my point.
Le Pen and the gang are not as extreme as the Muslim Brotherhood that operates freely in France's mosques, but they're anti-Semitic nonetheless.
Le Pen is anti-semitic, it is true, but his thugs have targeted, beaten and murdered Arabs. His whole political philosophy can be summed up as "throw the Arabs out". Racism in France is predominantly anti-Arab, and that is obvious even to a casual visitor.
If the Jews are a "European" minority in France (which is not entirely true as the majority of the Jewish population in France is of North African origin - still, they're well integrated), then why the quotes?
Because, as you mention, they are mostly from North Africa and the whole concept of "Europeaness" seems ridiculous anyway.
For all of his (detestable) revisionism, Le Pen's party has never (to my knowledge) attacked French Jews- quite unlike their attacks on French Arabs.

Sources please.


Sources for non-attacks? I repeat this is something so glaringly obvious to anybody that has lived or visited France, that I'll leave French MeFites to show that the vast majority of racial attacks in France were directed against Arabs.

You want to know what's "morally correct"? Protesting when your fellow Greeks deface and vandalize synagogues and Holocaust memorials.

You're barking up the wrong tree here. I have protested against the local Nazis here and (when I was a bit younger) I actively sought - and found- physical confrontation with these idiots. Now I'm older and slower and can only support anti-racist groups etc. You might not be aware of this but we Greeks are not all the same. But I should mention that the local Nazi party (the guys behind the vandalizing) got something like 0.1% in the last elections.
Also, take a look at this. I especially liked the part about Greece's younger generation being among the most anti-Semitic in Europe.
Thanks for the pointer... I would have never known... The part about Palestinian support in Greece is 100% correct. And it's something that is appropriate. The following remark however is seriously misleading:
In the immediate aftermath of September 11, Greek politicians were publicly excoriated by outraged Israeli officials for circulating the conspiracy theory that American Jewry had survived the attack at the World Trade Centre as a result of being forewarned.
A few politicians of the extreme right in some talk-shows repeated this claim. This was not something stated by serious government or opposition politicians and it was thoroughly debunked in serious Greek newspapers immediately.
Anti-Semitism in Greece has been rising, indeed I'll be the first to acknowledge it: a lot of the right's support for the Palestinians is less about their plight and more about anti-semitism. I live here and try to do something about it.
BTW, I took the time to reply to the points about Greece, so as to show that I'm not evading the questions. The remarks were off topic, ad hominem and misdirected, assuming apparently that Greece is a nation of Borgs, thinking, acting and believing in the same things.
As for the anti-semitism issue: I'll concede the point.
posted by talos at 2:52 AM on May 17, 2002


the whole concept of "Europeaness" seems ridiculous anyway

Thank you. I remember years ago we used to laugh when Americans said they were coming to 'Europe', like it was a single country. Now everyone does it. Europe may be small but the differences are vast. What does Sweden have in common with Italy, or Spain with Hungary? Fuck all I'd say. I think Talos has made a good case that anti-semitism in France is due to very local conditions. Talk of a 'rise of the right in Europe' is clearly ridiculous, when you're talking perhaps two or three countries whose circumstances aren't even the same, and yet even Europeans are doing it.
posted by Summer at 4:22 AM on May 17, 2002


"Because, as you mention, they are mostly from North Africa and the whole concept of "Europeaness" seems ridiculous anyway."

Quite a few of them are from North Africa, but they've also been Francophone for nearly two centuries. Also, a significant portion of French Jewry is not North African.

"Le Pen is anti-semitic, it is true, but his thugs have targeted, beaten and murdered Arabs. His whole political philosophy can be summed up as "throw the Arabs out". Racism in France is predominantly anti-Arab, and that is obvious even to a casual visitor."

Spare me the lecture. Le Pen is a xenophobe, and his philosophy is more along the lines of "France for the French." The Arabs just happen to be the majority of the immigrant population in France, and that's why racism in France is predominantly anti-Arab.

"Sources for non-attacks? I repeat this is something so glaringly obvious to anybody that has lived or visited France, that I'll leave French MeFites to show that the vast majority of racial attacks in France were directed against Arabs."

Here you go again, assuming that I don't know that there's a serious problem of anti-Arab racism in France. I know that it exists. Let's look at what was being said:

"talos: For all of his (detestable) revisionism, Le Pen's party has never (to my knowledge) attacked French Jews- quite unlike their attacks on French Arabs.

Stumpy McGee: Sources please."

I asked you for sources about your claim that the French Jews have not suffered attacks from Le Pen's sympathizers. Obviously not as much as the Arabs, but the same Arab-hating thugs who attack Arabs easily "crossover" to anti-Semitic acts.

"a lot of the right's support for the Palestinians is less about their plight and more about anti-semitism."

You make it seem like the European Left is free of anti-Semitism. I don't think that's true at all.

"BTW, I took the time to reply to the points about Greece, so as to show that I'm not evading the questions."

Thanks for answering.

"The remarks were off topic, ad hominem and misdirected, assuming apparently that Greece is a nation of Borgs, thinking, acting and believing in the same things."

First of all, I never assumed anything of that sort about Greece. You have put very ugly words in my mouth.

You brought up the issue of "moral correctness" - that prompted me to direct a couple of points to you that would bring this closer to home. Of course, the Palestinians have just grievances, but you were the one who decided to drag that into this discussion on anti-Semitic attacks.

I think that it's extremely inappropriate to somehow weave legitimate Palestinian concerns with vicious anti-Semitic attacks on synagogues, schools, butcher shops and cafes. Nothing can justify such brutal violence. If these Arab bigots are upset with their marginalized position in French society and the racist attacks against them perpetrated by the extreme right-wing, why not go and burn some Catholic churches in working-class, ethnic French neighborhoods?

Because the Arabs know that if they do that, they'll be slaughtered like sheep! So what do these fucking cowards do instead? That's right, they target a group that is even more numerically insignificant and has a history of getting stepped on.
posted by Stumpy McGee at 5:31 AM on May 17, 2002


"Good post, Stumpy. Whenever anyone is attacked because they belong to a religious, ethnic or any other group then all groups are in danger."

Thanks. I agree with you that this is a serious problem.
posted by Stumpy McGee at 5:38 AM on May 17, 2002


Because the Arabs know that if they do that, they'll be slaughtered like sheep!

No, actually, they would be jailed for a little while and released. And the French government would pay to repair the damage.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:05 AM on May 17, 2002


"No, actually, they would be jailed for a little while and released. And the French government would pay to repair the damage."

I was talking about vigilante justice. In such a scenario, working-class blancs would take matter into their own hands.
posted by Stumpy McGee at 6:19 AM on May 17, 2002


"No, actually, they would be jailed for a little while and released. And the French government would pay to repair the damage."

I was talking about vigilante justice. In such a scenario, working-class blancs would take the matter into their own hands. The police wouldn't bother.
posted by Stumpy McGee at 6:22 AM on May 17, 2002


P.S.: since Woody Allen would seem to have no interest in being Jewish, he's the last one to rule on this issue.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:35 AM on May 17, 2002


Stumpy McGee
You make it seem like the European Left is free of anti-Semitism. I don't think that's true at all.
I cannot think of a single case of any party of the (socialist and beyond) left in Europe that is guilty of anti-Semitism. Anti-Israel's policies yes, anti-jewish, no.
I think that it's extremely inappropriate to somehow weave legitimate Palestinian concerns with vicious anti-Semitic attacks on synagogues, schools, butcher shops and cafes.
Good, we agree. The issue however was whether France was anti-semitic. If immigrant Hutus start attacking immigrant Tutsis in France, that says nothing at all about anti-Tutsi racism in France. These are imported hatreds which were not "taught" in France. The French government took measures to protect the synagogues etc. so I cannot see how the French are to blame.
About Anti-Israel vs. Anti-Jewish: From the linked site: "The French government is entitled to their pro-Palestinian opinions, but Chirac must restrain his vitriolic attacks on Israel which invariably result in more anti-semitic attacks". I didn't bring it up it- was there all along, or do you think that if the French gvt. had a pro-Israeli stance there would even be a boycott issue?
About Greece and ad hominem: We were having a discussion about French anti-semitism, and you suddenly shifted topics and started speaking about what my "fellow Greeks" in general do (they deface and vandalize synagogues and Holocaust memorials you said), proceeding to gleefuly talk about anti-semitism in Greece- now call me oversensitive but since I was the only Greek (I think) in this discussion I took that as an oblique suggestion that I was somehow involved in or tolerant of anti-semitic activities in Greece. Now that's a lot to assume based on what I wrote on this thread (or anywhere in MeFi for that matter)- so if I misunderstood sorry, but I do think the manner in which you wrote lent itself to misunderstanding, no?
posted by talos at 7:31 AM on May 17, 2002


"I cannot think of a single case of any party of the (socialist and beyond) left in Europe that is guilty of anti-Semitism. Anti-Israel's policies yes, anti-jewish, no."

How about Russian Communists? They're obviously left-wing and nationalist at the same time - they're very much anti-Semitic and anti-Israel.

As for being against Israeli policies, that's not anti-Semitic. However, simply being anti-Israel, or being virulently anti-Zionist borders on being anti-Semitic. Such an extremist position is usually taken by people with no understanding of Middle Eastern and European history, Jewish history and the Jewish experience in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

"The issue however was whether France was anti-semitic. If immigrant Hutus start attacking immigrant Tutsis in France, that says nothing at all about anti-Tutsi racism in France. These are imported hatreds which were not "taught" in France. The French government took measures to protect the synagogues etc. so I cannot see how the French are to blame."

I'm sorry, but that's a HORRIBLE analogy. Jew-hatred and the persecution of Jews is not an imported phenomenon in France. Sure, most of the attackers are North African Arabs, and some of their victims have been Jews with roots in North Africa, but that doesn't mean that this hatred is not resonating with the anti-Semitic elements at large.

Here's a better analogy. Imagine immigrant Serbs in your country (I don't know if there are any, but let's say) harassing and beating the shit out of both the Cham Albanians, who have been living in Greece for millennia, and the immigrant Albanians from abroad. I'm sure many Greeks would be outraged, but then a significant minority would tolerate it to an extent - because there's a deep bias against the Albanians already.

" 'The French government is entitled to their pro-Palestinian opinions, but Chirac must restrain his vitriolic attacks on Israel which invariably result in more anti-semitic attacks.' I didn't bring it up it- was there all along, or do you think that if the French gvt. had a pro-Israeli stance there would even be a boycott issue?"

"Must restrain vitriolic attacks" - sounds like a reasonable request. If the French president, knowing that a large segment of the immigrant Arab population is anti-Semitic and attacks Jews under a certain pretext, keeps demonizing Israel, please answer this: what kind of a leader is he? Sounds like someone who's playing with fire.

"Now that's a lot to assume based on what I wrote on this thread (or anywhere in MeFi for that matter)- so if I misunderstood sorry, but I do think the manner in which you wrote lent itself to misunderstanding, no?"

As I've said before, I was reacting to a very specific phrase of yours. I do admit that the style of my address put you on the defensive. That was not my intent.

As for what you wrote elsewhere in MeFi, you've provided a link to Jews for Justice in the Middle East a couple of times. Just want you to know that their spin on the history of the region is unbelievably propagandistic and reminiscent of Pravda. In other words, it's not history. Also, a bit on Edward Said - he's a decent cultural theorist, but an absolutely horrible historian and political scientist. Try Rashid Khalidi and Beshara Doumani if you want to acquaint yourself with serious Palestinian scholarship.
posted by Stumpy McGee at 8:47 AM on May 17, 2002


Briefly: Arab hatred has displaced Jew-hatred in France since WWII , which makes the Serb/Albanian comparison moot, rather the inerse scenario would be relevant.
"Must restrain vitriolic attacks" against Israel, sounds reasonable until one tries to find out what Chirac actually said.
I would be very interested in your opinion on the JfJ piece on the region's history. Pravda-like propaganda is not the description that comes to mind. Care to discuss the flaws in their story? Also about this Shalom summary.
As for Said vs. Khalidi, as far as political views on the Israel Palestine conflict go Khalidi is a Said with toned down rhetoric, plus he is, if my memory serves me well, rather admiring of Said.
posted by talos at 9:33 AM on May 17, 2002


"Briefly: Arab hatred has displaced Jew-hatred in France since WWII , which makes the Serb/Albanian comparison moot, rather the inerse scenario would be relevant."

Briefly: Arab-hatred in France may have become the main current of racist thought and action, but that doesn't mean that Jew-hatred, a phenomenon that has existed there for centuries, has suddenly disappeared. It hasn't. I don't know why you can't just admit that.

And the Albanian analogy is a good one - it's about the history of power dynamics and prejudice. On that emotional level, I'm sure that most Greeks tend to side with Serbs over mostly Muslim Albanians. I'm trying to tap into a collective hatred here that resembles (somewhat) anti-Semitic attitudes in France.

" 'Must restrain vitriolic attacks' against Israel, sounds reasonable until one tries to find out what Chirac actually said."

Is that the only thing that he's ever said? I don't think so. If there's evidence of him saying extremely inflammatory things, then I think the request sounds reasonable.

"I would be very interested in your opinion on the JfJ piece on the region's history. Pravda-like propaganda is not the description that comes to mind. Care to discuss the flaws in their story? Also about this Shalom summary."

I've already told you what my opinion is of their take on things - it's not good history. You don't understand why I would make a comparison of their "piece" to Pravda? It's extremely anachronistic and doesn't cover the ancient, medieval, and early modern historical periods like it should. It writes the Jews out of the indigenous mosaic of cultures and peoples, doesn't explain how the Jews got to Europe and what their experience was like, minimizes the Jewish connection and presence in Palestine that has continued throughout the various historical stages, and buys into the Arab myth that the Jews are complete intruders with no authentic history. They don't present an unbiased history of Zionism, rather, they pepper their diatribe with familiar leftist cliches, but never getting to the root cause of the problem. They romanticize the treatment of the Jews in Islamic lands, while not saying anything about a very long history of anti-Jewish sentiment and massacres in the Arab/Islamic world. I could go on and on, but I'll stop here.

As for Shalom's summary, it's on par with JfJ. Again, it's very propagandistic, intentionally distorts the Zionist perspectives, and is blatantly pro-Palestinian while attempting to seem objective.

"As for Said vs. Khalidi, as far as political views on the Israel Palestine conflict go Khalidi is a Said with toned down rhetoric, plus he is, if my memory serves me well, rather admiring of Said."

Khalidi is not as propagandistic or obfuscatory as Said, but he has to be more objective. Khalidi is an historian, while Said's domain is comparative literature - two very different methodologies. And yes, Khalidi respects and admires Said for various reasons.
posted by Stumpy McGee at 10:48 AM on May 17, 2002


Arab-hatred in France may have become the main current of racist thought and action, but that doesn't mean that Jew-hatred, a phenomenon that has existed there for centuries, has suddenly disappeared. It hasn't.

How do you know that? A lot of countries have a history of violent anti-semitism yet in recent years, especially post-holocaust, have seen anti-semitism become so minor as to be almost non-existent. Why would the French suddenly turn violent now? Do you think the average French person really cares that much about Palestine? It doesn't make sense.

This conversation is suffering from the lack of input from any actual French people. It's very difficult to comment on the character of a culture and its particular prejudices unless you're part of it or have had intimate knowledge.
posted by Summer at 11:35 AM on May 17, 2002


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