A French civil servant was sacked in late March for publishing what has been widely reported as a “violent anti-Israeli diatribe” on the oumma.com website, a crime that was investigated by no less than Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie. Bruno Guigue, deputy prefect of Saintes, wrote that Israel was “the only state where snipers shoot down little girls outside their school gates.” The author of several books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Guigue also wrote of “Israeli jails where — thanks to religious law — they stop torturing on the Sabbath.”
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Russian-Israeli author Israel Shamir told Al-Ahram Weekly. “There are thousands of people sentenced and imprisoned for similar ‘crimes’, mainly in Germany and Austria, more than all the dissidents ever imprisoned in Soviet Russia. The majority of these cases never reach public awareness.”
That a lowly sous-prefet became the subject of the interior minister’s personal intervention for stating the above is astounding, just one example of the heavy hand of the Israeli lobby in Europe. Bruno Guigue’s real “crime”, it’s quite clear, was to criticise the state of Israel.
Though not a “Holocaust denier”, Guigue is suffering a similar fate as his fellow anti-Zionists who are prosecuted under the anti-Holocaust denial laws, currently on the books in 12 European countries. The most notorious victims of these laws are writers David Irving and Ernst Zundel, who were jailed for questioning the extent of the death toll of Jews during WWII and the insistence that the Nazis had a plan to kill all Jews (Roma, homosexuals and Communists are forgotten in the brouhaha) as opposed to ethnically cleansing Europe.
Though an essential weapon in Israel’s political arsenal, according to Shamir, these laws are not usually invoked; they are intended more as a warning. Rather, writers and their publishers are sued under broader libel laws, as was Norman Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors, and his French publisher Aden Brussels in 2004, when he was accused of Holocaust revisionism and incitement to antisemitism. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Liaison Shimon Samuels testified: “Finkelstein’s thesis is an extremist attack on Jews in general, and American Jews in particular, accusing them of exploiting the suffering of the Shoah as a ‘pretext for their crimes in the context of the Middle-East conflict’. This thesis constitutes the principal credo of modern antisemitism. He exploits his own Jewish antecedents in order to attack as ‘racist’ specific Jewish leaders, their organisations and the Jewish people. I am convinced that only a judicial penalty will contain the damage wreaked by this particularly offensive libel.”
Samuels compared Finkelstein to Roger Garaudy, a respected Marxist philosopher who himself spent three years in a concentration camp in WWII, who was convicted in France under the Gayssot Law in 1996, which he argued “restores the law, abolished after Vichy, that defines questioning of official truth as a criminal offence. It restores discrimination against anybody who does not submit to one-track thought and to the cult of politically correct taboos imposed by American leaders and their Western mercenaries, especially the Israelis.”
The French edition of “Flowers of Galilee” by Shamir, “a book teeming with incitement to racial hatred” according to Prosecutor Marc Levy, was seized and actually burned, and his publisher Cherifi fined in 2005. At the request of the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA), French judges indicted him for arguing that, “the very concept of Holocaust is a concept of Jewish superiority”, and for referring to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a “political pamphlet”. Ironically, the arrest warrant, if honoured, would have meant deporting him from Israel to France “to be tried for my stand against Jewish hegemony”. He told the Weekly he considered the conviction a compliment, putting him in a class with “the great list of authors whose books were burned and banished in France, from Voltaire to Baudelaire, from Nabokov to Joyce, from Wilhelm Reich to Vladimir Lenin.”
None of the above writers convicted in this witch hunt has ever advocated physical violence against Jews. Shamir and Finkelstein are Jews themselves, though, true, Shamir converted to Christianity. Shamir told the Weekly that “where public criticism of Israel is absent from public discourse, painting a swastika on a Jewish grave is not an act of racism, but rather a protest against Israeli atrocities,” and argues that the stranglehold of the Zionists in European society actually incites anti-Jewish sentiment. He went on to argue that this is precisely what they want, in order to complete the ethnic cleansing of Europe that Hitler clearly intended. “If Jewish fears of racism can be stoked, Jews will migrate to Israel, the Zionists’ goal.”
Vichy thought crimes, book burning, ethnic cleansing — all recall the policies of the very Nazis that the Zionists rail against.
But there are signs that the jig may be up. Even pro-Israeli writer Deborah Lipstadt, despite her legal battle with British historian David Irving, is against the Holocaust denial laws, as are most historians and prominent writers such as Timothy Garton Ash, including Jews such as Noam Chomsky.
In 1996 Garaudy wrote: “In the flood of insults, nobody has contested my analysis of the control of American politics by the Israeli lobby and of the financing of the state of Israel as a proxy of American politics in the Middle East.” Yet this is now the core of a bestselling American analysis of the Israeli lobby, and the outspoken belief of US law professor Richard Falk, who as a UN advisor, compared Israeli policies with regard to the Palestinians to the Nazi-Germany record of collective punishment. Despite shrill condemnation by Israel, he was nevertheless appointed in March to a six-year term as UN Human Rights Committee investigator of Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.
For journalist Ash, the turning point was in 2006, when the French national assembly approved a law making it a crime to deny that the Turks committed genocide against the Armenians during the first world war. He wrote in exasperation that perhaps the European parliament should make it obligatory to describe as genocide the American colonists’ treatment of Native Americans. “No one can legislate historical truth. In so far as historical truth can be established at all, it must be found by unfettered historical research, with historians arguing over the evidence and the facts, testing and disputing each other’s claims without fear of prosecution or persecution.”
After an appeal, Shamir launched a new French edition of his banned book (which was always available on the Internet anyway) in 2006 and published a French edition of essays “Our Lady of Sorrows” with much more interest than if it had been simply ignored by the establishment.
The Holocaust denial law was repealed in Slovakia in 2005 and Spain decriminalised Holocaust denial in October 2007. However, though Holocaust fatigue appears to be setting in as Israel celebrates its 60th anniversary of independence, Zionist cultural hegemony in Europe is still strong. After decriminalisation of denial in Spain, Spanish courts meted a long jail sentence to publisher Pedro Varela of Barcelona and demanded the pulping of thousands of books, including one of Shamir’s.