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June 27, 2016 / 21 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘french’

French Political Gymnastics and How to Help the Palestinians

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

The French government seems to be falling over itself to undo its craven vote in favor of a UNESCO resolution accusing Israel — referred to as the “Occupying Power” in Jerusalem — of destroying historic structures on the Temple Mount:

  • Prime Minister Manuel Valls apologized. “This UNESCO resolution contains unfortunate, clumsy wording that offends and unquestionably should have been avoided, as should the vote.”
  • Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve apologized. [I do] “not take a supportive view of the text.” The resolution “should not have been adopted” and “was not written as it should have been.”
  • President François Hollande apologized. [The vote was] “unfortunate,” and, “I would like to guarantee that the French position on the question of Jerusalem has not changed… I also wish to reiterate France’s commitment to the status quo in the holy places in Jerusalem… As per my request, the foreign minister will personally and closely follow the details of the next decision on this subject. France will not sign a text that will distance her from the same principles I mentioned.”
  • Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault did not quite apologize: “France has no vested interest but is deeply convinced that if we do not want to let the ideas of the Islamic State group prosper in this region, we must do something.”

It sounds as if they thought they had made a mistake. But the vote was not a mistake. Underestimating the depth of Israel’s anger about it might have been a mistake, but not the vote. The French — who, according to their foreign minister, have “no vested interest” but need to “do something” about Islamic State — could not have thought that a UNESCO resolution that offended Israel would do anything to slow ISIS “in the region” or in Europe. There is no way it could; the two are not connected.

The French however, apparently thought a vote accusing Israel of something, anything, would keep the Palestinian Authority from presenting a resolution on Palestinian independence to the UN Security Council; Ayrault implied in Israel that the UNESCO vote was a quid pro quo. Why? The French have a veto they could exercise in the UN Security Council. But the Palestinians might then object to France replacing the U.S. as the “Great Power” in the “peace process.” They already have experience with a veto-wielding interlocutor — the U.S. — and they do not want another. The price of an elevated status for the French appears to entail not vetoing Palestinian resolutions, voting for them in UNESCO, and sacrificing Israel in a process that will end in French recognition of a Palestinian State, whether Israel agrees to be bound to the altar or not.

It should be noted that the Russians immediately put out a statement that the UN-sponsored Middle East Quartet is the “only mechanism” for resolving the Palestinian issue. It is not clear whether Putin was supporting American or Israeli interests. Iran and ISIS are similarly disinclined to see the French ascend on this issue.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, are thrilled to have an international conference where others will make demands of Israel as the Palestinian experiment in self-government degenerates into poverty and chaos by its own economic, political and social choices, looking more like Venezuela every day.

For Palestinians in the street, killing Jews in the “knife intifada” did not take the edge off the popular anger and frustration with their own leadership.

Under the circumstances, the French, and France’s enabler, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, might usefully consider the approach taken in fact by President George W. Bush, which required changes in Palestinian behavior as a prerequisite for support for statehood. Honored mainly in the breach, Bush’s 2002 speech nevertheless remains the best statement of American, and Western, interest in moving the Palestinians toward a functioning state:

It is untenable for Israeli citizens to live in terror. It is untenable for Palestinians to live in squalor and occupation. And the current situation offers no prospect that life will improve. Israeli citizens will continue to be victimized by terrorists, and so Israel will continue to defend herself…

Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born.

I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people meet these goals, they will be able to reach agreements with Israel, Egypt and Jordan on security and other arrangements for independence.

And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.

I wrote at the time that,

“Mr. Bush made one huge leap of faith in the speech when he said, ‘I’ve got confidence in the Palestinians. When they fully understand what we’re saying, that they’ll make the right decisions when we get down the road for peace.’ What, in fact, will the U.S. do if the Palestinian people weigh a new constitution and free political parties and STILL decide that blowing up Jews is better? What if they have transparent government, economic advancement and an independent judiciary, and STILL decide Jewish sovereignty must be eradicated with the blood of their children?”

The Palestinians have answered half the question. They do not have a “practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty,” but erasing Israel evidently remains their goal. Rather than offering no-cost recognition, the French should demand a few changes first.

Shoshana Bryen

French Jewish Students Sue Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

Monday, May 16th, 2016

The Union of Jewish Students of France (UEJF) and SOS-Racisme, on Sunday filed a lawsuit against the three social networks Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for failing to delete content deemed racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic or pro-terrorism, as required by French law, The Local reported.

The two groups cited a survey carried out between March 31 and May 10 by their own members together with a third association, SOS Homophobie.

In this “first mass test of social networks,” the three groups discovered 586 instances of content they deemed “racist, anti-Semitic, Holocaust denying, homophobic, or defending terrorism or crimes against humanity,” the two groups said in a joint statement.

Only a small percentage of these postings was deleted by the host network within a “reasonable time,” as required under a 2004 French law: 4% on Twitter, 7% on YouTube and 34% on Facebook.

“It’s a mystery whether the moderating teams in social media are actually working,” said UEJF president Sacha Reingewirtz,.

Dominique Sopo, head of SOS-Racisme, said the social media giants are being hypocritical: “These platforms seem more shocked about content with bare breasts, which is swiftly censored, than about incitement to hatred,” she said, adding, “Our legal step aims at getting the authorities to apply the law so that these organization submit to it in full.”

According to The Local, the suit has been filed under an article of the French legal code which requires a judge to issue a fast-track preliminary ruling in a complaint.

David Israel

The French Will Make Things Worse

Monday, May 16th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Commentary Magazine website}

With the Middle East peace process lying dead in the water for two years, what harm could come from an effort led by France to revive talks between Israel and the Palestinians? The answer is that, whenever one thinks things can’t get worse, the reality of this conflict is always there to remind us that yes, things can always get worse. Moreover, they almost always do when even the best-intended people try to pretend that another conference or paper or the right negotiator can solve a problem that has nothing to do with forums, resolutions or even skillful diplomacy.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will arrive in Israel this weekend to try to lay the groundwork for a new peace initiative. But Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu deserves no blame for rejecting the French formula. It’s not just that Paris’s plan smacks of international coercion that is both deeply unfair to Israel. Nor is the biggest problem here the fact that similar schemes with analogous formulas have already been tried and failed.

The real problem is that the French, like the Americans, the United Nations and the “Diplomatic Quartet” that have trod this path before, are focusing on form rather than confronting substance. Peace between Israelis and Palestinians will come the day the latter gives up their century-old war on Zionism and put to rest their opposition to a Jewish state.

If the goal is to get closer to that moment, the French plan is an absurd waste of time. Indeed, the fact that the Palestinians have welcomed the scheme illustrates what’s wrong with it. Having torpedoed the talks sponsored by Secretary of State John Kerry two years ago and refusing every entreaty to return to the table since then, it’s hardly surprising that the Palestinians would like a plan that starts with an international conclave convened by the French to where neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians will be present.

That sort of diplomacy smacks of an international diktat where nations that are either neutral or hostile to Israel will seek to impose terms on it that compromise both its security and rights. Instead of a negotiation in which the two sides will be forced to recognize each other’s legitimacy, such a process is a one-sided attempt merely to orchestrate another Israeli territorial retreat in which it will be asked to trade land for the hope of peace. Moreover, is there any reason for Israel to trust nations that, like France, voted for a recent UNESCO resolution that didn’t even recognize historic Jewish ties to holy sites in Jerusalem such as the Western Wall or the Temple Mount?

But even if we lay aside the obvious unsuitability of any plan that is so skewed against the Israelis even before it begins, Netanyahu’s rejection makes sense because the premise of the negotiation is false. The French and the international community that appears to be supporting their initiative act as if the last 23 years of history hadn’t happened. Must we remind them that Israel has already placed on the table the same terms that peace process advocates always speak of being the solution that “everyone knows” will be the way to end the conflict? Is it really necessary to point out that the Palestinians said no to those terms — independence and a state that includes almost all of the West Bank, Gaza, and a share of Jerusalem — in 2000, 2001, and 2008? Must we point out that since the last of those offers that sent Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas fleeing from the negotiating table, he has refused to negotiate seriously even when Netanyahu offered in the Kerry talks to leave the West Bank?

Obviously, the answer is yes to all three questions.

But even if anyone thought Abbas would give a different answer to peace than he has previously provided, no one in Paris or in any of the other foreign capitals where this proposal is being discussed is anyone taking into account the fact that Abbas doesn’t speak for all of the Palestinians. Two million of them live in Gaza from which Israel withdrew every soldier, settler and settlement in 2005, and which is now ruled as an independent Palestinian state in all but name by Hamas terrorists. How can even a theoretical deal that grants sovereignty to the PA make any sense so long as Hamas is in place in Gaza and might well expand their rule to the West Bank once Israel does the international community’s bidding?

The answer is that it doesn’t. The only answer that would make sense would be for Abbas to accept Netanyahu’s oft-stated offer of a resumption of direct negotiations that he repeated this week while, again, accepting the idea of two states for two peoples. But that can’t happen so long as Abbas refuses to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its boundaries would be drawn. And he won’t do that because Palestinian public opinion is unalterably opposed to such a formulation. Until a sea change in their political culture permits him or a successor to end the century-long war on Zionism and the Jewish presence in any part of the country that is inextricably tied to Palestinian national identity.

The French, President Obama and Netanyahu all ought to know that if the Palestinians were ever to accept peace on terms that end the conflict for all time, there is no Israeli leader that could successfully resist such a peace plan. The majority of Israelis would give up settlements and even perhaps some of their capital for peace. Building in Jerusalem and the settlement blocs that Israel would keep in the event of peace is no obstacle to a deal. Yet instead of dealing with Palestinian intransigence, the French, like President Obama, focus on their antagonism with Netanyahu.

That is problematic not just because it achieves nothing to get the region closer to peace. It’s foolish because it only encourages the Palestinians to think they won’t have to make the concessions they need to make if they really want two states instead of merely eliminating Israel. Every failed peace effort has led to a new round of violence, and this one won’t be an exception. It’s time for diplomats to realize that, like doctors, their primary responsibility is to do no harm. Unfortunately, that’s a lesson that no one tempted by the glory of making the ultimate deal (attention: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton) ought to forget.

 

Jonathan S. Tobin

Netanyahu ‘Doubts French Impartiality’ in Paris Peace Initiative

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at this week’s cabinet meeting that he told French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in their meeting Sunday morning that his country’s support of a UNESCO resolution on Jerusalem cast doubt on the impartiality of France in its upcoming “peace initiative.”

More than 20 foreign ministers are invited to a meeting on May 30 to set the agenda for the “initiative” to be held later this year. Israel and the Palestinian Authority are not invited to the May gathering.

“I told him that the scandalous resolution accepted at UNESCO with France’s support, that does not recognize the bond of thousands of years between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount, casts a shadow over the impartiality of the entire forum France is trying to convene,” Netanyahu told the weekly cabinet meeting after holding talks with Ayrault in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu had already sent a strongly-worded letter to French President Francois Hollande over his country’s vote supporting the UNESCO resolution to erase historic Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, Channel 2 news reported. The Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted the resolution in mid-April on “Occupied Palestine” presented by several Arab countries. It refers several times to Israel as the “occupying power.”

The prime minister wrote that he was “astounded” by the support of France for such an “offensive and historic distortion of truth” and “an extremely biased and offensive” resolution.

“While we have no illusions as to the the UN’s commitment to truth or decency, we were honestly astounded to see our French friends raise their hands in favor of this shameful resolution,” Netanyahu wrote.

Hollande attempted to excuse his nation’s support for the resolution in a letter to the French Jewish community, calling the vote a “misunderstanding” and pledging not to support such measures in the future. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the wording of the resolution “clumsy” and “unfortunate.” He added that his country’s vote “changed nothing” in its approach to the Israel-PA issue.

The French foreign minister arrived Sunday in Jerusalem to attempt to convince Netanyahu to participate in the Paris “peace initiative.”

But Israel’s prime minister has already dismissed the so-called “initiative” – saying bluntly that any real solution will only result from direct bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

“I am willing to meet President Abbas today, right now,” Netanyahu said during a live chat Q&A session on Twitter this past Thursday. “He can come to my home here in Jerusalem or I can go to his home here in Ramallah.”

There have been no talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority since April 2014.

Hana Levi Julian

French PM Announces $45 Million Plan to Rehab Muslim Extremists

Monday, May 9th, 2016

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Monday unveiled a program to establish regional centers across the country where locals will be “de-radicalized.” The centers will aim to prevent those identified as vulnerable to radical thinking from falling into the hands of the Muslim extremists.

Valls said the judicial authorities will be sending about half, if not more, of the clients for the new de-radicalization centers, primarily individuals “who cannot be put in prison.”

The Prime Minister said the “phenomenon of radicalization had widely penetrated into society” and that “it has deeply damaged the Republican pact.”

According to The Local, some 1,600 young French are already enrolled in state-run de-radicalization programs, which the new budget will increase 3,600 individuals over the next two years. In early February, Le Figaro published a leaked government report showing there were 8,250 committed Muslim radicals living in France — a number which had doubled since the previous year. Around 70% of the suspected Islamist radicals are male and 80% of the cases are considered “serious.” According to Le Figaro, there has been a significant rise in the number of women and teenagers who became radicalized.

In January, France announced the establishment of “de-radicalization” prison wings, where prisoners who have been convicted of terrorism are kept in isolated cells, unable to communicate with and influence fellow inmates.

The new rehab program has encountered the familiar NIMBY problem, as the opening of the first de-radicalization center, in Beaumont-en-Véron in central France, has provoke angry opposition from local residents who feared they could become the next terror targets.

“Yesterday it was Paris, tomorrow perhaps it could be us. Obviously we are scared,” one local resident told reporters.

The government established a “green number” in 2014, which French citizens can call to alert the authorities about their neighbors who have become radicalized. The green number has been a success and the Prime Minister plans to invest in more Jihadist threat hotlines.

David Israel

Marseille Synagogue Becomes Mosque, French Muslims Want Churches Converted As Well

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

The Or Thora synagogue on Rue Saint-Dominique in Marseille, established in 1962, has been purchased by the Al Badr organization, which runs a small mosque on the same street, The Local reported. The sale is under review by the city council and it is expected that the new mosque will open for business in a few months.

Zvi Ammar, President of the Marseille Israelite Consistory, said the move was positive. “For the past 20 years or so we have seen the shift of the Jewish community to other neighborhoods,” he said, adding, “We all have the same God, the main thing is for this to proceed in harmony.”

In January, Ammar said that the Jews of Marseille should avoid wearing their yarmulkes on the street. So much for harmony.

Marseille’s Jewish population has left the city center for the suburbs in recent years, and the Or Thora synagogue sometimes has fewer than ten worshippers at services. Meanwhile, the mosque down the street has been full to capacity during Friday services, with people forced to pray outside on the pavement.

Marseille’s 70,000 Jews are among Europe’s largest Jewish communities. Out of the city’s two million residents, an estimated 220,000 are Muslim.

France has an estimated 2,500 mosques, with another 300 under construction, but demand is even higher, according to some Muslim leaders. Dalil Boubakeur, Rector of the Grand Mosque in Paris, told Europe1 radio that some of France’s 40,000 churches should be turned into mosques. He said, “It’s a delicate issue, but why not?”

Why, indeed?

David Israel

Jewish Agency Planning for Massive Aliyah of 120,000 French Jews

Monday, January 26th, 2015

The Jewish Agency is making plans to settle 120,000 Jews — one in every five French Jews — over the next four years.

The project sounds fanciful if one looks at recent history, but radical Islamic terror and country-wide anti-Semitism have cast a shadow of the Nazi era over Jews in France.

The Jewish People Policy Institute, the Jewish Agency’s think tank, is drawing up plans for opening up job opportunities to attract French Jews, who enjoy a relatively high standard of living.

The number of Jews from France who moved to Israel last year was 7,000, a small number by itself but a dramatic jump from previous years. Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky has said he anticipates 15,000 Jews from France to make Aliyah by 2016, but the Agency’s think tank has bigger plans.

If history repeats itself, the project for mass Aliyah will create lots of work for Jewish Agency , inflate its budget and bring in only a trickle of results.

Aliyah from Western countries never has been very impressive except in the hey-day of Israel’s victory over Arab enemies in the Six-Day War in 1967.

Since the 1970s, the only really impressive Aliyah has been from what was the Soviet Union, from where more than 1,000,000 Jews — and 300,000 people who were not Jews according to Jewish law — moved to Israel.

But Jews have a tradition of enjoying a good life in the Diaspora, hanging on until they are expelled or often trying to flee after it is too late.

Fear and loathing have not yet sent shivers down the spines of American Jews, most of whom consider Israel a place for hapless Jews who cannot survive elsewhere. The “Golden Medina” has been a tough nut for Aliyah ever since the re-establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

On a trip to Baltimore in 1951, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion told rags to-riches millionaire Jacob Blaustein of expectations of the Aliyah of thousands of Jews every month, to which Blaustein retorted, “American is our home.”

Just think if one in every five American Jews were to make Aliyah. The economy would boom. The so-called “demographic problem” of an Arab and Bedouin population dominating Jews would disappear.

If even 10 percent of 1 million American Jews were to settle in Judea and Samaria, there would be no question about its place in Israel.

But Americans do not face the imminent threat that has caused French Jews to panic and fear.

The Jewish Agency plans are not a pipe dream.

“I was in Netanya this past Shabbat, and everyone is talking about the Aliyah of Jews from France,” French expatriate Yisca Maimon told The Jewish Press Sunday.

She explained:

They are afraid to go to the supermarket and to synagogue and get killed. The Aliyah movement starts with one friend, and then another friend, and everyone influences one another. Jews in France are very close to one another. People are afraid of Islamic terror because there is absolutely no security there. Yes, there are attacks in synagogues and supermarkets in Israel, but here we have the IDF. We are in our own home.

Jews in France feel they cannot stay there anymore. They know they have to leave. There are nearly 8 million Muslims in France, and their presence is increasingly overwhelming. Everyone is afraid.

There is another reason for Jews to flee France, if they want their children to remain Jews. The assimilation rate is nearly 70 percent, which raises the question of which Jews will move to Israel.

Haredi rabbis who are not raving Zionists — except for the fact that they live in Israel — already have objected to mass Aliyah because of problems of Jewish law.

They say they are afraid of more secular Jews but  in truth they also are afraid of the growing national religious community in Israel, which in the past two decades has become very influential in the IDF, professional fields and now in the Knesset thought the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party, which has opened up its doors to secular Jews who also are strong nationalists.

The Jewish Agency will have to deal with the problem of “Who Is a Jew” when the time comes. It also will have to streamline the absorption process to allow professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, to practice in Israel without some of the obstacles that have no logic but simply exist from the earlier days of the modern State when old-line Israelis expected everyone to be like them.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet Sunday, “We must prepare to absorb large-scale immigration to Israel. To this end we are working to remove the impediments to [recognizing] diplomas and professional degrees in Israel. At the same time we will prepare an emergency plan to cancel bureaucracy so as to enable massive construction to absorb the immigrants, just as we did previously to absorb the major immigration from the Soviet Union.”

If the Jewish Agency can succeed, it might even begin to attract more Americans, not enough to make baseball the Israel National Pastime but enough to at least make hamburgers as popular as falafel.

 

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/jewish-agency-planning-for-massive-aliyah-of-120000-french-jews/2015/01/26/

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