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Far Away, So Far Away

by afew Mon Jul 21st, 2014 at 02:58:26 AM EST

Over the weekend, two pro-Palestinian demonstrations in France (banned because of previous attacks on synagogues, official reason) began peacefully and ended in violent street fighting.

French president François Hollande alluded to the situation yesterday, when decorating documentalists of WWII deportation and murder of Jews in France Beate and Serge Klarsfeld with the Légion d'Honneur. Here is what he had to say about the current situation in France (emphasis mine):

Hollande refuse tout acte «qui puisse faire ressurgir l'antisémitisme» - Libération

«La République, c'est la capacité de vivre ensemble, de regarder son histoire et en même temps d'être toujours prêts à défendre les valeurs démocratiques, de ne pas se laisser entraîner par des querelles qui sont trop loin d'ici pour être importées, de ne pas se laisser emporter par les déflagrations du monde», a-t-il dit. Il faut, a-t-il ajouté, «faire en sorte que ne soit toléré aucun acte, aucune parole qui puisse faire ressurgir l'antisémitisme et le racisme».

The Republic means being able to live together, to be aware of its history and be always ready at the same time to defend democratic values, not to let ourselves be caught up in quarrels that are too far away from here to be imported, to not get carried away by the explosions of the world ... act so that no deed, no word be tolerated that might bring back antisemitism and racism.

François Hollande does not know that Palestine is not far away, that what is happening there is in every French living-room. He does not know that Israel's war crimes against the people of Gaza are right there on France's doorstep. He does not know that the country he presides is a Mediterranean country. He is ignorant of the ethnic and cultural origins of a large proportion of unemployed young people in France, of their historical and family links to other Mediterranean countries, of the fact that the rise of anti-Jewish sentiment among them is fuelled, precisely, by Israel's oppression of the Palestinians. He does not know that the death of boys playing on the beach at one end of Mare Nostrum washes up on the beaches of Marseille. He therefore fails to "be aware of (the French Republic's) history", and he wishfully believes that incantatory nonsense will suffice to lay the ghosts of the past while he turns his head away from the monsters of the present. By this appalling little speech he has gained his place among the pusillanimous European leaders who averted their eyes from Nazism until it was too late, and thus played a large part in permitting the genocide that followed - and which was exactly the subjacent theme of the ceremony at which he pronounced these words.

If you hear the echo of Neville Chamberlain on Czechoslovakia:

Neville Chamberlain - Wikiquote

a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing

you have finer-tuned hearing than François Hollande, though you win no prizes, it really isn't hard.

Chamberlain? Really?

I mean Chamberlian is the favored villain of all neocons around. Are you implying that France should March into Israel to protect the Palestinians? Because quoting Chamberlain on Czechoslovakia normally implies that Chamberlain was wrong not to be the first to start the 2nd World War.

I think that this wrong. Germany is to blame for what append in Czechoslovakia, not Great Britain. Being cautious before starting wars is a virtue not a vice.

by rz on Mon Jul 21st, 2014 at 06:35:26 AM EST
I think you're taking what I said a long way into what I'm not saying.

The parallel with Chamberlain is the attempt, in a public speech, to dismiss as insignificant, because too far away, unacceptable acts carried out within the sphere of inter-connection and influence of the leader in question's country.

I don't expect Hollande to go to war. I expect him to know what is happening in a closely neighbouring region and its inevitable effects within his own country, and to adjust policies and public discourse accordingly.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2014 at 07:30:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And, by the way, though the neocons are in favour of marching to war in a whole heap of places, the one military intervention they're not going to support is one against Israel...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2014 at 07:42:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that the JDL has been involved in these recent incidents, just "happening" to be around at the time. They have been classified as a terrorist group by the FBI, so one should be very careful before jumping to conclusions about who started the violence (I've seen different accounts of the first event).
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Jul 21st, 2014 at 06:42:58 AM EST
I pointed out in the Newsroom that the violent group may have nothing to do with support for Palestine.

An interesting note in the Libé account I link to there says that some of the Saturday attackers wore T-shirts of a particular section of the Parc des Princes stadium, ie a PSG supporters' club, which hints, given the long history of right-wing PSG hooliganism, in another direction again. (Could also be false flag dress).

There's also a well-established tradition of "casseurs" showing up at French demonstrations to justify strong policing and bans.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2014 at 07:22:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Link to the Libé journalist's account of Saturday's protest in Paris.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2014 at 07:34:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
quarrels that are too far away from here to be imported,

Hillel Cohen, in his recent book on 1929, picks as his starting point for the violence, the Jaffa massacres, by Napoleon (who I think was French).

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Jul 21st, 2014 at 07:49:51 AM EST
And I do believe that the Med pond is so small the French Republic stretched right across it to include what became Algeria half a century ago. Without mentioning French colonial interests in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon...

What's nice is to import colonial goods and labour, not nasty quarrels from far away.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2014 at 08:58:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not the french Republic which stretched across the Mediterranean sea, but the french royalty.

You will have to wait for 18 more years to get a (short lived) II Republic until 1852, and 40 years for a stable republican regime in France. ;-)

I do hope that the syrian crisis is as much in your scope as the israelo-palestinian conflict, because it is a source of concern to french secret services that french arabs may convince themselves that they would be fulfilling God's commands by going to Syria and Iraq to slaughter civilians in the name of the Mahdi (1)... and then get back to France to do the same at home.

(1)Interesting radio broadcast in french here and here.

by Xavier in Paris on Wed Jul 23rd, 2014 at 08:56:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the second link I provide, you may quickly pass the Couturier chronicle, usually very lightly based on facts. The one journalist who is more interesting is Omar Ouahmane, as he is fluent in arabic and usually spend some time in the countries he speaks of.
by Xavier in Paris on Wed Jul 23rd, 2014 at 09:04:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wasn't Napoleon's invasion of Egypt and Palestine the Republic? This was before he was crowned.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Jul 23rd, 2014 at 09:06:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the 20C, and up to 50 years ago, it was the Republic...

Xavier in Paris:

it is a source of concern to french secret services

Apparently not to Hollande, Syria is too far away.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 23rd, 2014 at 11:12:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The conquest has not been a project of the french republic, but of the monarchy. The II republic inherited this colony, which has been a burden on the french economy throughout all the XX century (subventionnized agriculture, and oil discovered only a few years before independence).

The "colonists" were a huge majority of very poor people coming from Spain and Italy with a very small number of rich owners from France.

by contrast, no colony acquired during the III republic were settlement colonies. The settlement of colonists is a very 18th century way of thinking. Tocqueville, famous for his "democracy in america" is the author of a number of less famous books on the necessity of colonization in Algeria and on the usefulness of violent methods of war there.

by Xavier in Paris on Fri Jul 25th, 2014 at 10:56:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jul 21st, 2014 at 08:50:27 AM EST
I think it's fair enough to criticise what he said in his attempt to calm things down, but I think you exaggerate when you attribute it to his "ignorance". Whatever his faults he's a very intelligent, well-educated, well-informed guy -  see his debate with Sarkozy. He knows where the Med is, where Israel is, etc. But he also knows that for many French people even Nice, for example, is far away - too far away often for rain-soaked Parisians.

Fabius has now said:

 "Il n'était pas acceptable qu'un pays soit menacé par des roquettes, en revanche il faut que la riposte soit proportionnée. Six cents morts, c'est évidemment quelque chose qu'on ne peut pas accepter", a déclaré Laurent Fabius sur TF1.

http://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/monde/laurent-fabius-denonce-l-offensive-israelienne-meurtriere-a-g aza_1561243.html

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Jul 23rd, 2014 at 05:24:04 PM EST
My commentary was laced with sarcasm. In fact, I know he knows. Sorry you didn't catch that.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jul 24th, 2014 at 01:51:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I met upon an anti-Israel/pro-Palestine protest during my five minutes in front of the Stephansdom in Vienna:

American tourists in the cafés on one side, angry chants in German and Arabic on the other, nice illustration of the distance in minds.

On the other hand, I feel that these protests are only good for venting anger. Israel won't care at all about them, and they are not focused enough to make European governments care (that is care in a way other than how to clamp down with police).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 28th, 2014 at 02:12:24 AM EST

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