The French Malaise

Tarascon is as French as they come. A charming and tiny Provençal village outside the high crenellated walls of an old chateau on the high bank of Rhone lies in a pleasant country full of sunlight, this
thistle, rough wine and Mistral poetry. But for the river, it is very similar to my arid Palestine; and indeed, an ingenious and liberated Palestinian girl Nicolette was wooed here by the heir to Beaucaire castle, young Aucassin, in a 13th-century fable. Tarascon’s church (bombed in 1940’s by the ubiquitous US Air Force) is old enough to remember their oaths. But Tarascon’s chief claim to posterity is due to a novel by the bard of the South, Alphonse Daudet(1). There is a monument to its main character, Tartarin, an epitome of a Southern peasant, a jovial, earthly but boastful type who is getting carried away by his imagination and invariably gets cold feet.

In a less-well-known sequel, Tartarin is told that the Alps are perfectly safe, and ravines, avalanches and steep rocks are but means for the local guides to squeeze hefty tips from naïve alpinists. Armed with this knowledge Tartarin commits great feats of courage, crosses abyss by walking a rope, climbs unvanquished heights and shocks his guides by his foolhardy bravery; until… Until he learns that the dangers of the Alps are perfectly real. From that moment he is unable to walk even a broad path for fear for his life, and the great hero of yesterday has to be taken down by four strong men.

This mishap of Tartarin reminded me the present U-turn of French politics. Just a year ago, France courageously objected to the US plans of aggression in Iraq. Jacques Chirac forged the coalition of the brave, allying with Germany, Russia and China against the neocons’ drive to submit the Middle East to Sharon’s mercy. But since then, the US tanks reached Baghdad, and the neocons declared France their enemy No.1, on a par with North Korea and Iran. Tartarin of Tarascon had had second thoughts for he paid heed to the Alpine abyss in front of him.

This U-turn is most visible in relation to Israel and to Jews. Just a year ago, the feeling of French independence was so strong that a French ambassador dared to wonder why ‘a small shitty country’ causes so much mischief on global scale. Now, the president of the small shitty country entered Paris amidst the triumphal brouhaha normally reserved for victorious emperors; and the butcher of Qibye, Sabra and Chatila is about to visit the subdued France this summer.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz mused: “If you are planning to visit Paris next week, maybe you should reconsider. Because of the “rising tide of anti-Semitism”? On the contrary. Because of the “I love Israel” parade. President Moshe Katsav will be arriving in Paris for a state visit and his counterpart, Jacques Chirac, intends to greet him with a big bear hug and even halt all the traffic in the busy downtown area. In the 16th century, the Protestant King Henri IV declared that “Paris is well worth a Mass” (i.e., conversion to Catholicism). The sovereign sitting in the capital today believes that warmer relations with Israel are well worth giving irritable Parisian drivers a nervous breakdown.”

The best and biggest congress venue of Paris, Palais des Congres, was allocated to the annual concert of ABSI, Association for Israeli Soldier’s Welfare (it was shifted at last moment to the Expo Park at Versailles). The brave communists of PCN-NCP(2) wrote in their ringing Gallic prose: ‘It appears that we have to attend to welfare of these sweet guys who planted 200 000 anti-personnel mines in South Lebanon, of the henchmen of the check-points, the destructors of Jénine and Palestine, of back-up troops of the death squads, the pilots who bomb the Palestinian refugee camps, of soldiers shooting at children armed with stones’.

The PCN-NCP do not beat around the bush and do not attribute this development to doubtful Israeli charms. For them, “the Zionist lobby are the advance force of Yankee collaborationists who carry out their old worn-down blackmail of ‘antisemitism’,” this equivalent of anti-Sovietism in the Pax Americana. But the real problem is not ‘antisemitism’ but Judeophobia, fear of Jews, not-too-irrational fear of their power. Many people in France and elsewhere believe in their heart of hearts that it is the Jewish power that brought American tanks to Baghdad, and can bring them to Paris, if necessary.

True or not, the idea has its own power. And while the brave French people of the PCN-NCP reject what they call ‘Kollaboration with the American-Zionist imperialism’, less brave trod the submissive path of Vichy. France is not conquered yet, but Tartarin already warms his cold feet.

The Jewish lobby hates every reference to Christ and objects to the epochal film Passion of Christ by Mel Gibson; and in all Catholic France, once the beloved daughter of the Church, not a single established distributor dared to screen this film. This suicidal task was taken by a Christ-loving Muslim immigrant from Maghreb, thus stressing that Christ is the unique figure uniting Arab Muslims, French Catholics and Russian Orthodox in one anti-Mammonite front(3). Indeed(4), the Muslim immigrants restored to France some of its indomitable spirit that was lost with many young lives at Verdun.

The Zionist lobby objected to the wild humour of Dieudonne and this extremely popular stand up comedian found the halls of the country locked in front of his face. The Zionist lobby objected to my book L’Autre Visage d’Israel published by Balland, and its manager Denis Bourgeois, this rightful heir to Tartarin, ordered to burn the book.

Now, on 15 of March, 2004, in Marseille, the CRIF, the shock troops of American-Israeli collaborators in France, take to court the internet publisher of La Maison d’Orient, Pierre-Alexandre Orsoni and the translator Marcel Charbonnier, dour friends of Palestine and my friends, for ‘provocation of racial hatred’ for they translated and published in the Web my essay Midas Ears (read it in “” , in “” , in “” ).
In the essay, I attributed the Iraqi War to the concerted drive of the organised American Jewry. “Oh no, it is OIL”, wrote some readers, “it is WMD”, surmised others. A year passed by, Iraq is conquered, but there is no oil coming out of there, as I predicted; but oil and food is coming at good price to the bleeding American troops in Iraq from Israel. There was no WMD in the Middle East, but in Israel, the only beneficiary of the Iraqi War.

King Midas also did put his barber on trial for disclosing the terrible secret of king’s donkey ears; but too late, the secret was out. Likewise, the secret of Polichinelle of Jewish influence in the US was out thanks to their push for war.

The CRIF had an additional reason to attack <>Midas Ears<>. In the essay, I quoted a French Jewish historian Simcha Epstein, who discovered that French Jewish organisations secretly bought and subverted French media for many years. This historical fact was too close to the dark heart of CRIF’s influence. Instead of arguing with it, or asking Simcha Epstein, a leading Jewish historian with the Centre of Antisemitism Studies in Israel, to enlighten them, they tried to silence it. Two newspapers Le Monde and Libération (a.k.a. L’Immonde and L’Aberration) apparently felt concerned and simultaneously attacked Orsoni, Marcel Charbonnier and me. None dared to deal with the accusation of Epstein. Indeed, Le Monde had met the Israeli President with a front page heading Zionist and Proud of It.

The trumped-up charges of ‘racial hatred’ should not mislead. It is our Zionist enemies who daily incite racial hatred, Alain Finkielkraut (“What’s good for the Jews is good for France”) to Arabs, Andre Glucksman to Russians, Daniel Goldhagen (“Hitler’s Willing Executioners”) to Germans. In 1972, Bernard-Henri Levy applauded summary executions of French lovers of German officers in the most racist terms(5). But de Gaulle did not ‘incite racial hatred’ when he called for Resistance to the German invader. Joan of Arc did not ‘incite racial hatred’ when she fought for France against the English overlord.

Our friends, noble Pierre-Alexander Orsoni and valiant Marcel Charbonnier, belong to the same sort of French as Charles de Gaulle; they fight for Free France against the encroaching shadow of Judeo-American imperialism and its Fifth column in France. Friends of Palestine, they know of the Cross of Lorraine presented by de Gaulle to Arafat; the embattled Palestinian president still wears it on his heart as a sign of love to Christ and to His French and Palestinian warriors. It will surely bring victory to the fearless and deserving.

The judges in Marseille should be fearless, too. For a judge, as opposed to a peasant of Tarascon, cowardice is a sin; it is the unforgivable sin of Pilate. They should not listen to the claque of CRIF calling to crucify these men. After all, France is not occupied yet, though you would never guess it by the impudence of the Fifth Column. The writ of New York and Tel Aviv does not reach Marseille yet. Though Alps are real, Tartarin can still walk this path.
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(1)”mhtml:mid://00000647/” \l “_ftnref1″ Les Aventures prodigieuses de Tartarin de Tarascon (1872; “The Prodigious Adventures of Tartarin de Tarascon”)
(2)”mhtml:mid://00000647/” \l “_ftnref2″ “”
(3)”mhtml:mid://00000647/” \l “_ftnref3″ Muslims’ love to Christ and to His Mother is enshrined in the holiest shrine of Islam in Jerusalem: the Dome of the Rock, with the blazing golden letters inscribed by the Umayyad Caliphs that proclaim “Blessed is Jesus Christ, Blessed is the Day of His Nativity, and Blessed is the Day of His Resurrection.”
(4)”mhtml:mid://00000647/” \l “_ftnref4″ The Sparrow and the Cockroach
(5)”mhtml:mid://00000647/” \l “_ftnref5″ Michel Foucault Debat avec les maos 5 Feb 1972, Les Temps Modernes No. 310

Israel Shamir is a critically acclaimed and respected Russian Israeli writer. He has written extensively and translated Joyce and Homer into Russian. He lives in Jaffa, is a Christian, and an outspoken critic of Israel and Zionism.