Tags: holocaust | france | mireille knoll

Slaying of Holocaust Survivor a Wake Up Call for France

Slaying of Holocaust Survivor a Wake Up Call for France
A photograph of Mireille Knoll and flowers are placed on the fence surrounding her building in Paris on March 28, 2018, in memory of the 85-year-old Jewish woman murdered in her home in what police believe was an anti-Semitic attack. (Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images)

By Tuesday, 03 April 2018 12:52 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Since October, when my article published on whether France can fight anti-Semitism while consistently adopting and adhering to anti-Israel policies, France has had to face a certain truth which is that it is the only country in the world, aside from Israel, experiencing a new and brutal form of anti-Semitism, which is the murder of people because they are Jewish.

The murder of two octogenarians, Sarah Halimi in April 2017 and Mireille Knoll two weeks ago have moved the political class and the media to a new and more alarming awareness of France’s problem. The increase in anti-Semitic violent acts each year, with the 2015 attack on the Hypercasher market in a Paris suburb making world news, were taken seriously, but now for the first time all political parties participated in demonstrations against anti- Semitism, and the president Emmanuel Macron was visibly affected both when he mentioned the murder at another State funeral and when he attended Madame Knoll’s funeral.

The fertile ground for extremism, it has finally now been agreed across the political spectrum, is the failure to integrate the waves of Muslim immigration of what are now approximately 10 million people, representing 15 to 20 percent of the general population with a not insignificant percentage attracted to Islamic fundamentalism to one degree or another. What made this worse is the unwillingness to accept that imam teachings were often hostile to Western values without officially accepting that terrorism is inspired by Muslim fundamentalism.

But the demographic and social problem (an expression still not politically correct) has had disproportionate significance when mixed with the widespread sentiment among the political elites and the media that Israel is responsible not just for oppression of Palestinians but destabilization in the region. Animosity toward Israel is shared by an unholy alliance: Muslim terrorists and the French government mainstream media and popular opinion.

What to do?

If France is to address and begin to solve its unique problem of anti-Semitic terrorism today it will need to overcome political and electoral considerations that until now have prevented the Republic from taking concrete steps that would be effective in preventing such attacks in the future that necessarily call for a revision in its relationship to and attitude toward Israel.

Although the new French president Emmanuel Macron has for the first time equated anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, in fact here again we have the pyromaniac trying to put out the fire. In this case it is the Republic itself that has espoused for decades anti-Israel policies, and therefore if anti-Zionism is the new form of anti-Semitism, as Mr. Macron has affirmed, then France itself needs to review and revise what Mr. Macron needs to understand as State Anti-Zionism.

Zionism, simply the belief that a Jewish State deserves to exist in the Middle East, needs to be taken out of the dark corner with pejorative connotations by a forthright and frank acceptance that this movement and philosophy are positive and legitimate.

The very beginning of the fight is recognition of the seriousness and perennially of France’s anti-Israel stance.

France voted in favor of UN resolutions condemning Israel representing more than 80 percent of all UN Resolutions and has refused consistently to accept amendments from the United States that mention Palestinian and in some cases Middle Eastern countries’ responsibility. France voted to condemn the United States for its decision to move its Embassy to Jerusalem, the first time any country is condemned for a decision concerning the location of its own embassy. France accepted and acquiesced in a UNESCO resolution considering that the heritage over the ancient city of Jerusalem is Muslim, with no reference or consideration to Jewish or even Christian civilizations.

The French mainstream press maintains consistently that Israel’s reprisals against missile attacks are vengeful and disproportionate although most Palestinians civilian losses are because humans are often used as shields. It has considered Hamas terror and missile attacks against civilians in Israel as political opposition whereas attacks in Europe are considered terrorism. One extraordinary example of French media bias came during the second Gulf War where George Bush and Ariel Sharon were depicted on the cover of one of France’s major weekly magazines each lighting a match to put the world on fire, a war where Israel was not a participant or supporter.

French anti-Israel politics can also be understood in relation to the very close economic ties between France and several Middle East and North African countries such as Qatar, whose investors are uniquely exempt from of taxes on profits, and have invested more than 20 billion in France properties and companies including the prestigious Paris Saint Germain football team.

To offset decades of policy or begin to change course from decades of anti-Israel sentiment, the remedy has to be strong.

What is needed is a courageous decision to come out of the closet and show France to be pro-Zionist, something that should not be in fact especially outrageous given that France was a strong supporter of the UN Resolution in 1948 creating the State of Israel. Pro-Zionism does not mean blind acceptance or support of Israeli government policies, because it would be a mistake to meddle in French policies that object to certain Likud policies and particularly increasing settlements in the West Bank. Pro-Zionism means the unwavering reaffirmation of support for the existence of a country that deserves to be praised and commended because in addition to its positive contributions to technology and economics allows freedom of expression, open universities, and is committed to the rule of law and parliamentary democracy, never before attempted in a new born nation.

Here are some concrete steps that France can take:

— Accept the support of a Palestinian State but refuse the defeatist idea that without Jerusalem as its capital Palestine can never ever come into existence.

— Publish, instead of keeping discretely under cover, France’s strong relations with Israel in the field of security and defense technology.

— Officially celebrate the signature of security defense and economic agreements at the highest levels.

— Propose Resolutions in the UN to celebrate the first country that owes its existence to the United Nations.

— Introduce into school curriculum the history of the Jews and the history of Israel, a country that is the center of political debate on an almost daily basis.

— Insist that at official events Israel diplomats are not excluded. If other delegations wish to be absent, that will be their decision.

— Invite the Israeli president as guest of honor at the annual Bastille Day parade.

It took 40 odd years before France recognized its responsibility for its role in sending its Jews to Nazi concentration camp deaths.

Either France can swallow the bitter medicine and take concrete action, or the high minded words and the sudden but always brief mourning for Sarah Halimi and Mireille Knoll will not produce any meaningful change, with sadly a repetition of crimes against civilian Jews and non-Jews to be expected.

Emmanuel Macron knows that the stakes are not just the Jews. Wisdom teaches that when a country allows its Jews to be victims the very core of its political and social stability gets shaken.

Mark L. Cohen has his own legal practice, and was counsel at White & Case starting in 2001, after serving as international lawyer and senior legal consultant for the French aluminum producer Pechiney. Cohen was a senior consultant at a Ford Foundation Commission, an advisor to the PBS television program "The Advocates," and Assistant Attorney General in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He teaches U.S. history at the business school in Lille l’EDHEC. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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The murder of two octogenarians, Sarah Halimi in April 2017 and Mireille Knoll two weeks ago have moved the political class and the media to a new and more alarming awareness of France’s problem.
holocaust, france, mireille knoll
Tuesday, 03 April 2018 12:52 PM
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