Monday, January 12, 2015

Nous sommes tous des juifs français--sauf Bibi

Charb on IDF tactics: "Hamas is taking the population hostage!" "So let's kill the hostages."
Can't quite let go of Charlie without calling attention to the unspeakable behavior of Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who crashed the party in Paris yesterday despite being politely but firmly asked not to come, as Haaretz reports:
Audibert explained that Hollande wanted the event to focus on demonstrating solidarity with France, and to avoid anything liable to divert attention to other controversial issues, like Jewish-Muslim relations or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Audibert said that Hollande hoped that Netanyahu would understand the difficulties his arrival might pose and would announce that he would not be attending.

The source noted that one of the French concerns - not conveyed to representatives of the Israeli government - was that Netanyahu would take advantage of the event for campaign purposes and make speeches, especially about the Jews of France. Such statements, the Elysee Palace feared, would hurt the demonstration of solidarity the French government was trying to promote as part of dealing with the terror attacks.
Netanyahu would not understand the difficulties his arrival might pose, at least not if he thought he could extract some political advantage out of it, and showed up anyway. (A tweet from Andrea Mitchell, h/t Emptywheel, suggests that Obama and Biden were not invited either, I assume for similar reasons, so as not to distract from the focus of the European event and make the security provisions even more complex and difficult, and showed the grace to accept the situation quietly, though the cons everywhere are criticizing PBO for skipping it as if he had done it out of sheer laziness.)

The Élysée scrambled to invite Mahmoud Abbas as well (good! more recognition for the Palestinian nation) by way of minimizing Netanyahu's ability to turn the solemn event into anti-Muslim propaganda, but they couldn't of course stop him from campaigning. Making Chuck Schumer look like a rank amateur at camera hogging, Netanyahu placed himself in the front lines of the Paris march, arm in arm with President Keita of Mali (a champion of press freedom, something you can't always say for the Israeli PM).

Cabu in more optimistic days in January 2009. Obama spreads fear: "He'll fucking get us unemployed!"
Afterwards he pushed himself into the evening ceremony at the Grand Synagogue, and gave a speech (Hollande, plainly furious, left early and missed it) saying how he "appreciated" Hollande's and French Prime Minister Valls's firm stand against anti-Semitism, and similarly thanking the Muslim cashier for saving lives at the Hyper Cacher superette, as if they had all been doing it specially for him, and wielding his favorite weapon of fear, urging the congregation to flee with him from their French homes to the self-denominated Jewish State:
Amid a growing feeling of insecurity among French Jews, Netanyahu also told them: “ I want to say to you what I say to all our Jewish brothers, that you have a full right to live secure and peaceful lives with equal rights wherever you desire, including here in France.”

But he also added, “these days we are blessed with another privilege, a privilege that didn’t exist for generations of Jews – the privilege to join their brothers and sisters in their historic homeland of Israel....

“Any Jew who chooses to come to Israel will be greeted with open arms and an open heart, it is not a foreign nation, and hopefully they and you will one day come to Israel,” he said. “Am Yisrael Chai. Am Yisrael Chai.”
When he finished his speech the crowd burst (as I heard first from Yousef Mounayyer)  into a spontaneous rendition of the Marseillaise, as if to say, "Thanks, but the Jews of France are French." Some of the Zionist press says they sang Hatikvah first, but that doesn't seem to be the case judging from the video He had led them in a rendition of of the Israeli national anthem (as you can see from a heavily edited official Israeli video) and as he was about to descend from the dais a solo voice responded, "Allons, enfants de la patrie..." as if to say "Aren't we forgetting something?" and the crowd joined in (a report in the Forward by Lisa Goldman confirms the sequence of events). I can't find an embeddable version, but you can watch it here (at the bottom of the story), and it's inexpressibly moving, with Netanyahu looking baffled and irritated like George W. Bush watching a shoe fly past his face; it reminded me inevitably of that moment (well loved in France) from the film Casablanca, which always fills my face with hot, France-loving, Jewish tears.

Richard Silverstein has some details on Netanyahu's original negotiations over the march, the reasons Hollande didn't want him to come—
Hollande was also reacting to Netanyahu’s previous act of bad faith after the Toulouse terror attack, when he joined the funeral service and publicly called for French Jews to leave for Israel before it was too late.  Political leaders don’t forget when foreigners insult their nation, nor did Hollande
—and the roles played by the remarkably slimy Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennet, who had been hoping to show up at the march with Netanyahu absent, to make him look bad. But Bibi's the slimiest, using the occasion to repeat the insult of Toulouse.

Adam Horowitz's report in Mondoweiss includes a response to the insult from the highest levels of the European Jewish community:
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, director of the European Jewish Association, was quoted by the website as saying that he regretted that “after every anti-Semitic attack in Europe, the Israeli government issues the same statements about the importance of aliyah [immigration to Israel], rather than employ every diplomatic and informational means at its disposal to strengthen the safety of Jewish life in Europe.” 
Watching that official video splice of the applause moments of Netanyahu's speech, I notice you can hardly hear the interpreter—applause covers him up—and it seems clear that all the applause is coming from fluent Hebrew speakers. Looks like they couldn't get enough Parisian Jews to fill the shul for the PM and had to round up some Israelis to make him a decent-looking audience. But enough real French Jews were there for a very rousing Marseillaise when they were needed.

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