French “help thwart UN resolution protecting Israeli children”

November 18, 2003

* At the UN, the PA delegate conferred with the French delegate over how to thwart the resolution protecting Israeli children...



[Note by Tom Gross]

IF RACISM AND ANTI-SEMITISM ARE A DAILY REALITY, IT IS NOT ACKNOWLEDGED

[Today's dispatch on France is divided into three separate emails.]

In 2002, statistics by the French Ministry of Justice showed that victims of six acts of racism out of ten in France, were Jewish. However, at the same time a poll revealed that one French person out of twenty, believes that this is true. If racism and anti-Semitism are a daily reality in France, it is not acknowledged.

Following the arson attack that destroyed most of a Jewish boys' school (the Merkaz Hatorah school) in a Paris suburb on Saturday, President Jacques Chirac yesterday called a special cabinet meeting on fighting anti-Semitism.

More than 100 firefighters were needed to put out the blaze at the school. 3,000 sq meters of the school were destroyed, as was the area and building works where a primary school and a kindergarten for 200 children were to be inaugurated in January 2004.

The "emergency" French cabinet meeting, the first of its kind, follows years of anti-Semitic attacks at synagogues, cemeteries, schools, football matches, and in the street. So far this year there have been over 400 attacks against Jewish persons and property. In the first 10 months of 2002 there were 184 attacks against Jewish property and 685 against Jewish people in France. Over 2000 French Jews a year are now fleeing to Israel.

Yesterday, Chirac finally admitted that these attacks were "anti-Semitic". While this will be welcomed by non anti-Semites, Chirac may also wish to ponder the fact that he has done his fair share in stirring up French anti-Semitism since he was re-elected in May 2002 with 82 per cent of the vote.

Last month, Chirac refused to condemn the comments by outgoing Malaysian president Mahathir who called on the Moslem world to achieve a "final victory" against the Jews, remarks which may be interpreted by Moslems extremists as calls to genocide.

In August 2003, Chirac defended Hamas, voicing objections to attempts by other European leaders to place Hamas and Islamic Jihad on the European Union's list of terror organizations.

And the resulting decisions of yesterday's cabinet meeting? Invest billions of Euros into France's Muslim communities, and condemn Israel for building a security barrier to keep terrorists out.

Blaming Israel for anti-Semitism has also been a theme throughout many supposedly liberal newspaper columnists and BBC presenters in the aftermath of the Turkish and French attacks. As the (London) Daily Telegraph asks today in an editorial: "What has happened to the liberal media in Europe that the slaughter of innocent worshippers and the desecration of ancient synagogues in Istanbul should evoke implicit criticism, not of the perpetrators, but of Turkey's ally Israel?"

And even the (London) The Guardian which has done its bit in helping to revive left-wing anti-Semitism in recent years asks in its editorial today: "Could not the liberal left, which in an earlier era vigilantly sought to protect Jews from prejudice and bigotry, rediscover its old values?"

Instead of yet again condemning Israel, Chirac may also wish to consider the following: Is anyone offering to help rebuild the Merkaz Hatorah school? Are French people marching in solidarity with Jewish children this week? Have they sent them letters? Where are the Jewish children going to study this week?

-- Tom Gross

 

I attach two articles, with summaries first:

HAVE THE FRENCH AND ENGLISH LEARNED NOTHING FROM THE 20TH CENTURY?

1. Prejudice and Abuse in Paris and London: Have the French and English learned nothing from the 20th century? (By Tom Gross, the National Review, January 10, 2002)

This is a piece I wrote, examining how the British and French reaction differs from the American reaction to the statement by the French ambassador to London that Israel is a "shitty little country."

"The Israeli ambassador to Berlin wrote a letter to Der Spiegel, Germany's leading news magazine, protesting an editorial they had published comparing the policies of the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, to those pursued by Adolf Hitler. The comparison, wrote the ambassador, was "an insult to all Holocaust survivors and to the entire Jewish people." In the ensuing days, the editorial was widely condemned in Germany. Though neo-Nazi elements do still exist in German society, the postwar majority has taken large and largely successful strides to purge itself of the legacy of anti-Semitism.

That the same cannot be said of France, however, was inadvertently given away by the writer of Der Spiegel's editorial, Rudolf Augstein, who is one of Germany's best-known journalists. Rather than properly apologize for his obscene comparison, Augstein made a telling remark in reply to the ambassador's letter: "In France one can say that, but apparently not in Germany."

Augstein may have had in mind comments of the kind recently made by Marc Gentilli, the president of the French Red Cross, who described as "disgusting" a request by the American Red Cross that Israel be admitted to the International Red Cross, and that the Star of David be accepted alongside its existing emblems the Cross and the Crescent..."

“GIVING NEW LIFE TO OLD CANARDS”

2. "In the UN, Arabs have the ultimate revenge over Israel" (By Barbara Amiel, Daily Telegraph, November 17, 2003)

"... The topic last week in Conference Room 1 of the UN was human rights in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo a part of the world where human rights are fulfilled by simply waking up alive and where democratic republics are anything but. The UN Special Rapporteur found no improvement in Burundi. Children were still being recruited as soliders; mass rape had increased and now was aimed at young boys as well as girls. The latter was "a new phenomenon", said Rapporteur Ms Keita-Bocoum. In neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, where three million people have died in the past five years.

... Before the early break for Ramadan, Burkina Faso, the Congo and Zimbabwe co-sponsored human rights resolutions. Sudan introduced one. The atmosphere remained clubby and cordial as the Ambassador of Israel came to the microphone to present a resolution on behalf of Israeli children.

... When he finished, the session chairman did not ask the names of co-sponsors for the Israeli resolution. Because there were none.

Afterwards, the PA lady conferenced earnestly for 20 minutes with a French delegate over procedurally thwarting the Israeli resolution so it would not come to a vote.

... Down the hall, in Conference Room 2, the Second Committee (Economics and Finance) was discussing "the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people over their natural resources", or how to stop thuggish Israel looting them. The Fourth Committee (special Political and Decolonisation committee) regularly considers the atrocities of Israelis in their role as imperialist running dogs.

Unesco, Unicef and UNRWA spend much of their time visiting Israel and condemning it. The General Assembly, unable to pass a single resolution condemning Palestinian terrorism, routinely condemns Israel and calls emergency sessions especially for the purpose.

... This week, Third Committee delegates will consider deleting anti-Semitism from the new UNHCR resolution on racial and religious intolerance, thus giving new life to old canards..."



FULL ARTICLES

PREJUDICE AND ABUSE IN PARIS AND LONDON

Prejudice and Abuse in Paris and London
Have the French and English learned nothing from the 20th century?
By Tom Gross
January 10, 2002

www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-gross011002.shtml

A week before Christmas, the Israeli ambassador to Berlin wrote a letter to Der Spiegel, Germany's leading news magazine, protesting an editorial they had published comparing the policies of the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, to those pursued by Adolf Hitler.

The comparison, wrote the ambassador, was "an insult to all Holocaust survivors and to the entire Jewish people."

In the ensuing days, the editorial was widely condemned in Germany. Though neo-Nazi elements do still exist in German society, the postwar majority has taken large and largely successful strides to purge itself of the legacy of anti-Semitism.

That the same cannot be said of France, however, was inadvertently given away by the writer of Der Spiegel's editorial, Rudolf Augstein, who is one of Germany's best-known journalists. Rather than properly apologize for his obscene comparison, Augstein made a telling remark in reply to the ambassador's letter: "In France one can say that, but apparently not in Germany."

Augstein may have had in mind comments of the kind recently made by Marc Gentilli, the president of the French Red Cross, who described as "disgusting" a request by the American Red Cross that Israel be admitted to the International Red Cross, and that the Star of David be accepted alongside its existing emblems the Cross and the Crescent.

Gentilli, head of one of France's leading humanitarian organizations, left little doubt of the disdain he holds for the Star of David, but less he be thought hostile to all "foreigners", he did call at the same time on the Palestine Red Crescent Society to immediately apply for membership to the international body, even though Palestine is not yet a state.

But if anyone still had doubts that Augstein was correct in his reading of French attitudes, they would have been dispelled the very next day by a column by Barbara Amiel in the London Daily Telegraph.

Amiel revealed that at a reception at her house, the ambassador of "a major EU country" told guests that the current troubles were all because of "that shitty little country Israel."

"Why," he asked, "should the world be in danger of World War Three because of those people?"

Within 24 hours, the Guardian newspaper identified the ambassador in question as Daniel Bernard, France's man in London and one of President Chirac's closest confidants. (While Bernard has not admitted using these exact words, he hasn't clearly denied doing so either.)

Several conservative columnists in the United States (where are those who profess to be liberal?) have condemned the ambassador for his "crude anti-Semitic remarks".

What has not been properly noted in the US media is that in the British and French media, it is not the French ambassador or anti-Semites who are being condemned, as one would expect, but Barbara Amiel and "those people". As for Israel, it seems to be open season.

A piece in the Independent, for example, by one of the paper's regular columnists (titled "I'm fed up being called an anti-Semite," by Deborah Orr, 21 December 2001) described Israel as "shitty" and "little" no fewer than four times.

"Anti-Semitism is disliking all Jews, anywhere, and anti-Zionism is just disliking the existence of Israel and opposing those who support it," explains Orr. "This may be an academic rather than a practical distinction," she continues, "and one which has no connection with holding the honest view that in my experience Israel is shitty and little".

In the Guardian, another British daily that claims to represent enlightened liberal views, columnist Matt Wells ("Every salon tells a story that's why the lady is a hack," December 20, 2001), denounced Amiel as "an arch-Zionist" but had nothing but sympathy for poor Mr. Bernard who, he claimed " was struggling against a tide of anger from Israel." (In fact the Israeli government hasn't made a single official comment in relation to the whole affair).

Indeed, rather than impinging on the distinguished diplomatic career of M. Bernard, who previously served as France's ambassador to The Netherlands and at the United Nations, it is Amiel who apparently made the "diplomatic gaffe", according to the British and French commentators. (Le Monde ran a front-page attack on Amiel, and rubbished the Daily Telegraph as "reactionary," "paranoid" and "preachy".)

If the French are now almost as open about their anti-Semitism as the Egyptians (the best-selling song in Cairo in 2001 was titled "I hate Israel"), England seems to be a country where the real crime is to condemn someone for their anti-Semitism rather than being one.

Writing in the (London) Observer, columnist Richard Ingrams (in a piece titled "Black's hole," December 23, 2001 Black is a reference to Amiel's married name), says the "gaffe" wasn't made by the ambassador, but by Amiel for "betraying the confidences of the dinner table" and writing such an "intemperate article".

Ingrams predicted that it would not be Bernard who would no longer be welcome in polite London society but the Blacks, who he guessed would have to "shortly decamp" to Manhattan.

As if one column of this stripe in a single edition of a newspaper wasn't enough, another of the Observer's columnists, Euan Ferguson, ("Gossip: 'tis the reason to be jolly", December 23, 2001), that same day writes "Ms Amiel is apparently as welcome now in the chic salons of north London as a fatwa in a sauna". Ferguson has no criticism to make of Bernard or the French government that has given him its full backing, but he does say as part of his commentary on 'l'affaire Bernard' that Israel has "the stubborn belief that the lifelong wish of our current pin-up boy, little baby Jesus, was to have his birthday celebrated by the shooting of innocent children in the street."

The level of denial of British racism extends so deep that many in England seem to not even realize what anti-Semitism is.

Columnist Joan Smith ("Dinner at Amiel's leaves a bad taste," 23 December 2001) writes that Amiel's "assumption that Bernard's remark was anti-Semitic, is pretty dubious. If there is a lesson to be learned from this episode, it is not the French ambassador's politics that have been called into question on this occasion, but his taste in friends."

Richard Woods in the London Sunday Times (23 December 2001, "When silence speaks volumes") says the ambassador's remark was only "apparently anti-Semitic".

There have been one or two admirable exceptions to this pattern, notably Andrew Sullivan (a British commentator who has been based in the US for over two decades) and the Anglo-Jewish writer Melanie Phillips, but they are very much in the minority. Phillips has been left to make her strongest remarks on the subject outside the UK ("British Polite Society Has Found a Not-So-New Target", December 24, 2001, The Wall Street Journal Europe).

For every Sullivan and Phillips there seem to be many among the "chattering classes" in London that actually find attacks on Jews rather amusing. Here, for example, is columnist Alexei Sayle in the Independent, writing shortly after the latest batch of Israeli teenagers had been blown to pieces by suicide bombers: "If a vivisectionist has their car burnt or a right-wing Israeli is shot or Ben Elton's musical closes early because of poor ticket sales, I can't say I can find it within myself to care very much." (Ben Elton is a British playwright and stand-up comedian).

Since Bernard's remarks were reported, there have been over a dozen fresh anti-Semitic incidents in France. Only last weekend attackers firebombed a synagogue in the northern Paris suburb of Goussainvil. A few days before that, gasoline bombs were hurled into a Jewish school in the southeastern Paris suburb of Creteil, setting a classroom on fire. On the same day another synagogue was torched.

Fortunately, no one was injured in these particular incidents. But it can only be a matter of time before someone is.

Have the French and English learned nothing from the twentieth century?

(For more writing by Tom Gross on the European media and Israel, see http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-gross110101.shtml )

 

IN THE UN, ARABS HAVE THE ULTIMATE REVENGE OVER ISRAEL

In the UN, Arabs have the ultimate revenge over Israel
By Barbara Amiel
Daily Telegraph
November 17, 2003

A trapped bluebottle circled the conference room, flying lazily towards the tall windows through which New York's East River could be seen. It flew over the chair where the representative for the International Organisation for Migration sat fiddling with his UN, Japanese-made, ergonomically designed earpiece, passed over the African Union and Commonwealth Secretariat and settled somewhere by the Holy See's seat.

Outside, it was a cold New York day. Inside, where these members of the UN's Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural matters) gathered, the room was bathed in a comfy buzz of wellbeing, engendered when like-minded people gather together.

The topic last week in Conference Room 1 of the UN was human rights in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo a part of the world where human rights are fulfilled by simply waking up alive and where democratic republics are anything but.

The UN Special Rapporteur found no improvement in Burundi. Children were still being recruited as soliders; mass rape had increased and now was aimed at young boys as well as girls. The latter was "a new phenomenon", said Rapporteur Ms Keita-Bocoum.

In neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, where three million people have died in the past five years of fighting, another UN Special Rapporteur described it as the "worst human rights situation in the world". She footnoted a special concern for the unlucky children named as "sorcerers", who were maimed or killed for their witchcraft.

It was business as usual. Before the early break for Ramadan, Burkina Faso, the Congo and Zimbabwe co-sponsored human rights resolutions. Sudan introduced one. The atmosphere remained clubby and cordial as the Ambassador of Israel came to the microphone to present a resolution on behalf of Israeli children.

Ambassadors don't normally present resolutions at committee level, but since Israel had not presented one since 1978 (and that was withdrawn after the Syrians tied its future to negotiations with the PLO), it was a bit of a first. The Israeli resolution was a mirror copy of one sponsored by Egypt and passed (88-4, 58 abstentions) in the General Assembly three weeks earlier, underlining the need to protect the rights of Palestinian children.

That resolution was a bit of a first, too: no other group of children had been singled out for protection by the UN not the child soldiers in Burundi, not the raped and mutilated girls and boys of the Congo, nor children in any other of the world's impoverished or warring nations. By tacit agreement, children have always been considered universally at the UN.

The delegates were polite as Ambassador Dan Gillerman spoke. He asked for security for Israeli, Palestinian and all children of the world. He spoke of a "false reality" that pretends one side has a monopoly on victim status. He wished, he said, to prevent the blatant exercise of a double-standard in the UN.

He mentioned the deliberate bombing of discos, pizza parlours and school buses, almost exclusively used by children. When he finished, the session chairman did not ask the names of co-sponsors for the Israeli resolution. Because there were none.

A discussion followed. The Syrian delegate strenuously opposed assistance of Israeli children and said the resolution was procedurally wrong. The Palestinian Authority's lady complained that the Israelis had "copied" their resolution. The situation of Palestinian children was "unique" she said which it may well be, since most children of the world are not used as human shields for terrorist camps or encouraged to be suicide bombers so their pictures can be put up in grocery stores as "martyrs".

It is as if British children in the Second World War had not been evacuated to the countryside but rather placed around the War Office and anti-aircraft embankments. Afterwards, the PA lady conferenced earnestly for 20 minutes with a French delegate over procedurally thwarting the Israeli resolution so it would not come to a vote. The bluebottle returned to the most heated part of the committee room.

The session ended with a report by the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, John Dugard, on "human rights in the Palestinian territories since 1967". Mr Dugard, who had been a courageous campaigner against apartheid, missed out when jobs were given away in the new South Africa and lost election to the International Criminal Court. Without apartheid to fight, he has demonised Israel to fill the gap. This transference of all ills to Israel's doorstep is a psychiatric condition common in, though not confined to, members of the UN.

Down the hall, in Conference Room 2, the Second Committee (Economics and Finance) was discussing "the permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people over their natural resources", or how to stop thuggish Israel looting them. The Fourth Committee (special Political and Decolonisation committee) regularly considers the atrocities of Israelis in their role as imperialist running dogs.

Unesco, Unicef and UNRWA spend much of their time visiting Israel and condemning it. The General Assembly, unable to pass a single resolution condemning Palestinian terrorism, routinely condemns Israel and calls emergency sessions especially for the purpose.

The reality of the Middle East is that the very existence of Israel is considered a nakba a catastrophe. This being so, the Israeli Ambassador could present a resolution recommending all people be encouraged to breathe and it would be unacceptable to that part of the world. Does the UN matter? Only insofar as the record matters. Certain things must be done not because they will make a difference but to set the record straight. This week, Third Committee delegates will consider deleting anti-Semitism from the new UNHCR resolution on racial and religious intolerance, thus giving new life to old canards.

The UN is not furnished luxuriously, but it is a congenial place. Sitting in one of its lounges, sipping an iced chai latte, one could see the irony of the situation. If the Arab world has any legitimate case against Israel, it is not the occupied territories, which are in Israeli hands only because of wars the Arabs launched. It is what they see as the initial injustice behind the Jewish state's founding.

The world's response to the Nazi holocaust and centuries of European persecution of Jews including Tsarist-inspired pogroms and, indeed, French anti-Semitism, whose Dreyfus Affair inspired Theodor Herzl's Zionism was to give away a slice of Arab Muslim land to the Jews. While one fully appreciates the Jews' historical and religious connection to the land of Zion, it must be said that insofar as the Arab case has any persuasive merit, it is on this initial point.

But the Arabs have had a great revenge. They have taken over the very body that was responsible for this the United Nations with the hope that the organisation that created the injustice may well be the instrument of its undoing. And that, as the bluebottle on the wall could tell you, is a story that has not unfolded yet.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.