The Right Coast

May 02, 2005
French Diplomacy and the Jews
By Maimon Schwarzschild

Commentary Magazine has posted David Pryce-Jones' account of French diplomacy in the Middle East. He gives a full history of French attitudes toward the Zionist movement and toward the State of Israel: attitudes which have generally been deeply hostile, and repeatedly expressed by French officials in viscerally anti-semitic terms. Pryce-Jones makes it clear that French officials over the years have objected not so much to this or that Israeli policy, but to the existence of a Jewish state, regardless of its policies, and within any borders whatsoever.

It is a squalid but important history. Nowadays once again, as Pryce-Jones shows, there is a recrudescence of anti-semitic attitudes in both the substance and the expression of French policy toward the Middle East:
Jacques Huntziger, the French ambassador to Israel, slammed his fist on the table and left the room when the parents of three Israeli soldiers captured by Hizballah asked him to intervene on their behalf after a visit by Chirac to Lebanon. Gérard Araud, the current French ambassador, declared in December 2004 that “Israelis suffer from a neurosis, a veritable mental disorder that makes them anti-French.” At a London dinner party, Daniel Bernard, ambassador to England and previously the Quai d’Orsay’s official spokesman, called Israel “a shitty little country.” And so it goes.
There are strong ripple effects from this within France itself. Pryce-Jones argues that the official tone not only encourages violent anti-semitism among the growing Moslem minority in France, but also promotes what goes along with it, a generally enraged attitude among French Moslems: separatist and angrily hostile to any idea of assimilating into broader French society. This climate among a large and growing minority in France, in turn, may actually threaten the peace and stability of the French state.

This is an important story. Pryce-Jones tells it well, with plenty of evidence. Read the whole thing.