The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
Yes, France today is a very silly country. Like Gloria Swanson in the classic movie “
Yes, France today is a very silly country. Like Gloria Swanson in the classic movie “Sunset Boulevard,” France is still pretending to be a Great Power but is really an aging shell of an actress, smearing on rouge to hide the hideous wrinkles, waiting for that phone call from her agent for a new leading lady role. The phone call does not come.
France today has little, if any, leadership role to play in the world. And nothing better symbolizes the decline of the Grand Republic than the “comedian” called Dieudonn?. Simply put, France has outgrown Balzac and Voltaire and is today best represented by a guttersnipe bigot pretending to be a comic.
Dieudonn? M’Bala M’Bala (his full name) is the French offspring of a mother from Brittany and a father from Cameroon. These days, Dieudonn?is so popular in France that he is planning to run for French President in 2007. Beloved by many on the French Left, he symbolizes superbly all that is wrong with France today.
Dieudonn? has long appeared on French TV and in nightclubs. A while back, dressed as a uniformed Israeli settler in the Palestinian occupied territories, he gave Nazi salutes and called upon young people to “join the American-Zionist axis.” He also likes to dress up as a rabbi and cry on stage “Isra-heil!“
Throughout France many see him as the “left-wing Le Pen,” a reference to the leader of the right-wing Front National party, although for many Frenchmen that is a compliment. Dieudonn? has also performed for French audiences in Montreal. He is only the tip of the growing iceberg of French anti-Semitism.
“I wish I could ignore Dieudonn?,” Alain Finkielkraut, a Jewish professor of philosophy told a French radio show. Finkielkraut says Dieudonn?has shown himself to be an open anti-Semite.
Dieudonn?has been building up his own little comic repertoire into a sort of French nightclub version of Mein Kampf. He insists (falsely) that Jews were behind the slave trade that brought Africans in chains to the Western Hemisphere. He has also called white Catholics “racist slavers” and last year was convicted of hate speech and slander for that comment before an appeals court reversed the ruling. He has been sued at least twenty times.
Dieudonn? is to go on trial again soon under French anti-racism laws for comments made in 2003, when he declared that Jews were “a sect, a rip-off.” He also has repeatedly asserted that Jews spread the AIDS virus in Africa. (For the record, it was Jewish doctors who first diagnosed the AIDS virus and identified it as a virus.)
In his standup sketches, Dieudonn? does an impression of Bernard-Henri L?vy, the Jewish-French philosopher, haggling with a street potato seller. Dieudonn?-as-L?vy says: “How can you ask me to pay so much when 6 million of us died in the Holocaust?” Roars of delight follow from the bigoted French audiences. He similarly does a Hitler-in-his-bunker sketch, with the closing line: “You will see, in the future, people will come to realize that I, Adolf Hitler, was really a moderate.”
Dieudonn? had faced criminal charges following a 2002 interview he gave to French magazine L’Echo des Savanes in which he said bin Laden had changed the way force could be used in the world, and that “he (bin Laden) is alone against the biggest power in the world, so naturally he inspires respect.”
He has also praised bin Laden’s “charisma.” Paris prosecutors demanded an apology from the comic, tying his remarks to the events of September 11, 2001, and started legal proceedings against him, saying he was trying to justify terrorism. The charges were later dropped – hardly the first manifestation of cowardice by France.
Dieudonn? was convicted, however, and fined more than $6,000, in the southern city of Avignon for comments published in Le Monde. In that case, he had accused Jews of “organizing a very strong lobby and taking control of the media.” Dieudonn
Dieudonn? frequently attacks Jews for “whining” about the Holocaust while they themselves are “mistreating” the poor Palestinians. Dieudonn?reportedly described the Holocaust as “memorial pornography”; subsequently, about a dozen theatres all over France, and one in Geneva, cancelled Dieudonn?‘s shows. Several television and radio networks also ordered him off the air.
He has been barred from the Olympia Theatre in Paris, although hundreds of his supporters protested the ban. Dieudonn?described the ban by the Olympia as “an infringement” on “freedom of expression.”
Recently Dieudonn?was back in the news: it seems he has a new hobby – spraying tear gas on Jews who criticize him. He was just arrested for it (Maariv, April 29). You see, it seems that the concept of free speech, supposedly so treasured by Dieudonn?, does not extend to those who denounce Dieudonn?‘s own racism and vulgarity.
Dieudonn?was walking down a Parisian avenue with his two kids when two Jewish passersby, one aged 19 and the other 25, recognized him and decided to express verbally their dislike of some of his more openly anti-Jewish remarks. They told him they believed that bigotry such as his was what actually lay behind the recent torture-murder of in Paris of Ilan Halimi.
It is alleged that then walked his two kids home, took out a tear gas canister, went back to the boulevard, searched out those two Jews, and sprayed them with tear gas. The victims reported the attack to the gendarmerie and Dieudonn? was busted. His PR spinner told the French media that Dieudonn?had been attacked by “two right-wing Zionists from the Extremist Right.”
The spokesman insisted the verbal “attack on Dieudonn?“proved how extremist Jews and Zionists are.” Few, if any, of the same French intellectuals who routinely defend Dieudonn?‘s “free speech” came out to defend the free speech of the two young Jews he assaulted with tear gas.
It is not only the French Left that loves Dieudonn?. Dieudonn? has also been championed by Counterpunch, a web magazine that has never met an anti-Semite or pro-terror jihadnik it does not wish to publish. Run by Alexander Cockburn, a man who hates America but not enough to give up its perks and move back to his native Britain, Counterpunch’s notion of pluralism and balance is to offset the screeds it publishes by Arabs and leftists who want to see Israel annihilated with columns by self-hating leftist Jews who want to see Israel annihilated.
Cockburn likes to pronounce his family name “Koash-Burn,” a pseudo-French affectation complete with faux aristocratic Norman airs. But Cockburn has long acted as little more than a decidedly non-aristocratic equivalent of Dieudonn?, the racist “comic” celebrated on his website.
The mystery is why “Koash-Burn” does not move to one of those swanky suburbs of Paris in which the Third-World masses riot and burn, there to compete with Dieudonn? for the title of New Europe’s most pathetic buffoon.
Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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