The French and British Left—and the Jews

Nov. 21 2018

The UK Labor party’s descent into anti-Israelism and outright anti-Semitism has gained significant attention in the English-language Jewish press. But parallel developments in French politics have garnered less attention, even as they take place in an atmosphere of growing anti-Jewish violence unparalleled in Great Britain. Paul Berman, in a detailed consideration of the left and the Jewish question, explains:

Jean-Luc Mélenchon . . . is the leader of the Unsubmissive France party—which, at least for the moment, has replaced the left wing of the Socialist party and the old Communist party as the main political organization of the French left. And Mélenchon’s relations with mainstream Jews have likewise resembled [those of his British counterpart, Jeremy Corbyn], with variations. . . . Mélenchon is a more sophisticated man than Corbyn, more experienced, better educated, a better orator—a more attractive figure, all in all. Nobody takes him to be a man of hidden bigotries. [Nonetheless], Unsubmissive France has ended up as anti-Zionism’s principal home on the French left. Mélenchon himself has ended up as the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement’s leading champion in France.

Anti-Zionist street protests got under way in the summer of 2014, at the time of the most recent of the full-scale Israel-versus-Hamas wars in Gaza, proclaiming solidarity with Hamas. At a demonstration in Paris—called by one of the smaller Trotskyist parties, not under Mélenchon’s leadership, but drawing on the public that is his—a street full of marchers broke into a cry of “Death to the Jews!” And “Jew: Shut up, France is not yours!” together with “Allahu Akbar!” and “Jihad! Jihad! Jihad!,” which are not normally Trotskyist slogans. Such has been the cultural degeneration in nether regions of the extreme left.

Mobs set out to attack synagogues in Paris and in the suburban town of Sarcelles [and] attacked Jewish stores. And, just as Corbyn has systematically failed to notice the nature and meaning of anti-Zionism on the British left, Mélenchon managed not to notice what was going on among a significant portion of his own social base. Instead of rebuking the rioters, he congratulated them. It was the [leading Franco-Jewish organization] CRIF that issued an angry denunciation. Mélenchon responded by inveighing against the “aggressive communities that lecture the rest of the country,” by which he meant CRIF, and not the people who were staging pogroms. . . .

[T]he political significance of these French events is hard to miss, if you stop to consider that, in the first round of the 2017 presidential election in France, Marine Le Pen [of the far-right National Front] and Jean-Luc Mélenchon attracted, between them, some 40 percent of the vote—which becomes still more striking when you recall that Corbyn’s odds of becoming prime minister someday soon are pretty good.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, France, French Jewry, Jeremy Corbyn, Marine Le Pen, Politics & Current Affairs, United Kingdom

Maintaining Security Cooperation with the PA Shouldn’t Require Ignoring Its Support for Terror

In accordance with legislation passed last year, the Israeli government has begun to deduct from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) an amount proportional to what the PA pays to terrorists and their families. Last year, a similar law went into effect in the U.S., suspending all payments to the PA so long as it continues its “pay-for-slay” policy. The PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, has retaliated by refusing to accept any tax revenue collected by Israel—raising concerns that the PA will become insolvent and collapse—while insisting that payments to terrorists and their families are sacrosanct. To Yossi Kuperwasser, Abbas’s behavior amounts to mere extortion—which has already worked on the Europeans to the tune of 35 million euros. He urges Israel and the U.S. not to submit:

Abbas [believes] that influential Israeli and European circles, including the security establishment, view strengthening the Palestinian Authority, and certainly preventing its collapse, as being in Israel and Europe’s best interests. They will therefore give in to the pressure he exerts through the creation of an artificial economic crisis. . . .

[T]he PA leadership’s insistence on continuing wage payments to terrorists and their families, even at the price of an artificial economic crisis, shows once again that . . . the Oslo Accords did not reflect a substantive change in Palestinian national aspirations or in the methods employed to achieve them. . . . If paying wages to terrorists (including the many terrorists whose attacks took place after the Oslo Accords were in force) is the raison d’être for the PA’s establishment, as Abbas seems to be saying, . . . one cannot help asking whether Israel has to insist on maintaining the PA’s existence at any price.

True, Israel cooperates on security issues with the PA, but that serves the interests of both sides. . . . The short-term benefits Israel gains from this security cooperation, [however], are of less value than the benefits enjoyed by the Palestinians, and worth even less when measured against the long-term strategic damage resulting from Israel’s resigning itself to the constant incitement, the promotion of terror, and the political struggle against Israel carried out by the PA. Israel should not do anything to hasten the PA’s breakdown, because it has no desire to rule over the Palestinians and run their day to day lives, but it also should not feel more obligated to the PA’s continued existence than do the Palestinians themselves, thereby leaving itself open to continuous extortion.

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More about: Israeli Security, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror