New Alliances Against Zionism


This 2003 article on French politics, if we allow for the ritualised references to anti-semitism, can be studied for its detail and inferences. The construction of an 'anti-Zionist consciousness' through interlocking alliances around issues and incidents, might provide a useful guide for Australians. It follows also that the references by the author to 'anti-semitism' may also show the fear many Jewish people could also come to criticise Zionism.


French Jewish leader stirs anger with talk of anti-Semitic alliance
By Philip Carmel


PARIS, Jan. 30 (JTA) - The annual dinner hosted by French Jewish leaders
is generally a friendly affair.

That was the way it went this year - at least at the start of the Jan.
25 dinner sponsored by CRIF, the umbrella organization for secular
Jewish institutions in France.

French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Rafarrin and leaders from across the
political spectrum were enjoying last week what has traditionally been
one of the more agreeable consensual events of the calendar.

But then CRIF President Roger Cukierman spoke about a new alliance
threatening France's 500,000 Jews, linking neo-Nazis, environmentalists
and left-wing groups.

Speaking of a "brown-green-red alliance," Cukierman warned of the danger
faced by Jews from the alliance, which he described as
"anti-globalization, anti-capitalist, anti-American and anti-Zionist."

Moreover, when he referred to - though did not mention by name - the
spokesperson for France's peasant farmers and international
anti-globalization activist José Bové as being a leading light in such
an alliance, the national secretary of the Green Party, Gilles Lemaire,
promptly stood up from his table and left the dinner.

Bové, together with other pro-Palestinian activists, broke through
Israeli army barricades last year to stand alongside Yasser Arafat
during the army's siege of the Palestinian leader's headquarters in
Ramallah.

The anti-globalization campaigner also regularly used terms that equated
Israel's actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with the Nazi
persecution of European Jews. Last year, moreover, he accused the Mossad
of being behind the wave of anti-Semitic attacks in France.

"There is a nouvelle cuisine which is cooking up old fantasies with a
fashionable sauce, anti-Zionism," Cukierman said at the CRIF dinner.

"This brown-green-red alliance gives us the shivers," Cukierman added.

This comment particularly enraged the Greens.

The atmosphere was not helped the following day by a report in the daily
Liberation newspaper which capitalized the word "Verts" - French for
Greens - thereby implying that Cukierman was referring specifically to
the political party.

The CRIF president went some way to tone down his remarks later this
week, saying in a statement that the organization wished to work with
all democratic political parties in France, "including the Greens."

The Green Party candidate in last year's presidential election, Noel
Mamère, criticized Cukierman's remarks, saying that "just because one
attacks Ariel Sharon's settlement and humiliation policies does not mean
that one is anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli."

The Greens, though, were not alone in condemning Cukierman's remarks -
which France's Socialist Party described as "excessive."

The Trotskyist Revolutionary Communist League, which Cukierman
specifically named in his speech and which received around 5 percent of
the vote in last year's presidential election, called the remarks
"intellectual terrorism that hides state terrorism."

However, Cukierman's views are widely held in the Jewish community,
which believes that the left has not done enough to deal with
anti-Semitism.

Leading Jewish intellectual Alain Finkielkraut wrote recently that
anti-Semitic discourse was taking root in the anti-globalization
movement and within left-wing intellectual circles.

"It needs to be very clear; either José Bové is disavowed by the
anti-globalization and peasant farmers movements or we will hold these
movements accountable for his speeches and say clearly that tomorrow's
anti-Semitism is coming from this camp," he wrote.

Such a view is rejected by the Greens, who fervently deny they are
anti-Semitic.

Green spokesperson Marie-Helène Aubert told JTA that the movement is
aware that "the situation in the Middle East was sensitive" and that
"Greens and others should be extremely careful about how they express
themselves."

Aubert, a former vice president of the National Assembly, said the
possibility of war in Iraq as well as the left's defeat in recent
elections had led to a greater radicalization in the movement but that
"we have to be very strict about remarks by some people."

"It is difficult to have total discipline in a movement such as the
Greens, but there should be no doubt about the good faith of the Greens
in condemning attacks against Israelis and against Jews in France,"
Aubert said.

As for Bové, Aubert said she personally disliked the style of the
anti-globalization campaigner and regretted that some Greens had a
tendency to "over-romanticize" his actions.

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