The French establishment is openly and cynically weaponising antisemitism. This is a coordinated attack on civil liberties and free speech seen in all soi-dissant “Western democracies”.
France is using the anti-establishment crisis of the Yellow Vests in a way that Zionist-supporter Emmanuel certainly approves of: they are using it to criminalise anti-Zionism.
Backtracking from just a day earlier, President Emmanuel Macron threw French liberty under the bus and said that France will now define “anti-Zionism as a modern-day form of anti-Semitism”.
Well I guess I better totally rewrite this article! LOL, not a chance.
France had an atrocious 74% leap in anti-Jewish acts in 2018, which caused nationwide demonstrations against anti-Semitism on February 19.
More against anti-Jew acts… I could not be.
But the demonstrations were a clear manipulation of righteous anti-racism sentiment, because they were orchestrated right alongside an effort to slander the anti-government Yellow Vest movement as a basket of racist, anti-Jewish, hillbilly, intolerant, uncultured deplorables. Now we see they had a second goal, just as I had openly suggested.
Domestic things first: France’s Holy Secular Empire rallies to attack tolerance & democracy
Given that they are calling for the resignation of the president and his cadres, from the very beginning of the Yellow Vest movement the government has obviously done everything they could to portray the Yellow Vests as such… and also as radicals, rioters and rejects of society – anything but legitimate.
But the marches show that (what I refer to as) France’s “Holy Secular Empire” has sprung back into action. The Holy Secular Empire is characterised by pro-French jingoism, intolerance for those who are deemed not tolerant enough of the “correct” things (no matter how morally repugnant and intellectually incorrect said things may be), and a hypocritical subversion of France’s constitutionally mandated and culturally revered laïcité (political secularism) towards all things regarding race and religion only when certain cultural groups are targeted.
The apex of the Holy Secular Empire was the Je Suis Charlie marches in 2015, when fake-leftists worldwide wept for the right to draw a picture of Prophet Mohammad with his butt cheeks spread open and star covering his anus and also Mohammad directing a pornography movie. (Yes, those are among the cartoons they published.)
The arrival of the anti-austerity, anti-neoliberal, anti-EU, anti-Eurozone, anti-1% Yellow Vest movement has forced the HSE’s fake-leftist ideals back to the fore. The last week has seen a massive media and political blitz which aims to instrumentalise the fight against racism as a way to turn public opinion against the Yellow Vests, and eventually put a stop to their marches.
It’s easy to proclaim bravery in an affluent suburb of Paris. Images like this one attest to a typical bourgeois sensibility. Would this mother allow her child to be protesting in Gaza, exposed to the tender mercies of the Israeli army?
— Martyn McLaughlin (@MartynMcL) January 11, 2015
The slur campaign went into overdrive when the atrociously right-wing and pro-Zionist writer Alain Finkielkraut was filmed at the Yellow Vest demonstration on February 16th being insulted (being correctly labelled) with the phrase “dirty Zionist”. Finkielkraut is a former leftist who renounced his leftist ideals for reactionary ones, and such sellouts – those who can perhaps best critique the left because they understood it at one time – are always adored by the 1% and the Mainstream Media.
But, firstly, what is Alain Finkielkraut doing at a Yellow Vest march? Of course they hate him – he was similarly booed and shooed away at the leftist, Occupy-inspired Nuit Debout protests in 2016. The French say “once does not make a custom”, but it seems as if every leftist movement can now count on Finkielkraut getting back in the spotlight by annoying them with his presence. Of course, just like in 2016, Finkielkraut wants people to believe in 2019 it’s just anti-Jew hatred, but he clearly refuses to accept that people legitimately resent and detest him for being one of the French’s 1%’s leading intellectual toadies.
I saw Finkielkraut being interviewed on right-wing BFM TV just after the incident: he was doing his usual rear end-kissing of the average Frenchman’s bygone culture. He was going on and on about how the Roman Catholic French Church is a natural ally of the Jews, begging for their support and fraternity… and never mentioning Islam as their third Abrahamic brother. That’s odd, considering that much of the Koran’s very first chapter calls for unity with Jews and Christians, declares that Islam does not discriminate against their apostles and embraces them, how the children of Israel are exalted above other nations, and on and on and on. I asked a Middle Eastern Christian colleague why Finkielkraut didn’t include Islam, considering these obvious facts?
“Ramin,” he said, “why do you think Alain Finkielkraut would commit career suicide?”
LOL, good point. But this is why people on the left hate Finkielkraut – he makes bad things worse by insisting that la belle France réactionnaire doesn’t have to change.
The Finkielkraut episode, combined with a couple recent typical pro-Nazi graffiti taggings, allowed the Mainstream Media to point the finger at the Yellow Vests. Ever obliging, and you cannot make this up: French Parliamentarians rushed to try and ban anti-Zionist speech!
Surprised – why? In 2014, during Israel’s latest war on Gaza, France became the first country to ban pro-Palestinian demonstrations.
Foreign things second: Since when do French politicians care about the French?Banning anti-Zionism is – without a doubt – truly dangerous for the safety of the French, ruinous for France’s international image, ruinous to France’s cultural values…but since when do French politicians care about France?
The Parliamentarians said the debate ban was on the grounds that “anti-Zionism” is the same as “anti-Semitism”.” For several days this falsity was relayed by every major news organisation with zero comment or a question. Clearly, the Holy Secular Empire is a mighty force, but not an enlightened one. (Same slanderous and illegal arguments are being made across the channel, as the utterly corrupt bipartisan establishment and their media whores seek ways to block the ascension of Jeremy Corbyn.—Eds.)
One can be 100% anti-Zionist and 100% pro-Jew. Indeed, we all must be.
However, the reality is that – for fake-leftists and the Holy Secular Empire – one cannot be both pro-Jew and anti-Zionist… not even if you are a Jew.
Paris-based journalist George Kazolias emailed me this photo from the huge “Hipsters Against Anti-Jews” march at Place de la République in Paris on February 19. His sign reads, “I am Jewish and anti-Zionist”. Kazolias, who has decades of experience and whose integrity is unquestionable, told me that this intelligent young man was roughed up and forced to take his sign down.
That is the Holy Secular Empire at its finest: they claim to be anti-racist, but only when certain races are involved. “The Palestinians – not today, pal: you need to take a backseat to the Zionists right now. Frankly, let’s just ban anti-Zionism altogether.” They claim to be politically modern, and yet they support an imperialist project for which there is no doubt about who is in the wrong and who is in the right. They claim to be tolerant and demand that you be tolerant for their preferred groups, but they are willing to rough up a brave dissenter who dares to express a contrarian opinion (even when that dissenter is a member of the group being affected).
Surprised that France’s Holy Secular Empire is neither Holy (it is anti-Holy), nor Secular (it is incredibly partisan), but, like all Empires, based on illegitimate, anti-democratic force?
The surprise comes from the false, mainstream idea that France is what they say they are: a beacon of free speech, the world’s greatest adherents of the right to open debate on political issues, a fighter for truth, tolerance and other human rights… but it’s mostly for human rights which do very little to advance socioeconomic & political equality but which certainly allow the rich to express themselves unfettered in West European / Liberal Democratic / bourgeois systems.
Why the backtracking by Macron? I thought he was pro-Nazi? Let’s not forget that last November Macron was forced to call off his planned tribute to Vichy France leader and Nazi collaborator Marshal Petain – that makes him more responsible for the recent spike in anti-Jewish acts than anyone, no? People follow the lead of the leader, and he praised Nazi-era France.
From the beginning I openly said on social media that the timing of the marches made their legitimacy even more suspect: they were the night before the French President’s annual genuflecting before CRIF, the umbrella of Jewish groups which serves as France’s influential Jewish lobby. I felt bad for France’s Jews – the timing of these marches already seemed more like political manipulations which aimed to culminate in the criminalisation of anti-Zionism, but the timing helped perpetuate the idea that Jews are overly powerful among the French elite.
The annual genuflecting also shows that, while individual and anecdotal violence against Jews needs far steeper penalties in France, on the institutional level France’s Jews are not just well-represented but punching above their weight: there is no similar annual genuflecting by the French president at an French Muslim organisation, even though Muslims are 10 times the number of Jews in France. Each new French president even has the gall to create their own, preferred “new, improved, Franco-Muslim group”, which no Muslim takes remotely seriously but which the Mainstream Media takes as, LOL, legitimate.
Macron made his backtracking at the CRIF dinner. Ugh…bad for Jews, bad for France, bad for Palestinians, bad for those who oppose terrorism in France (i.e everyone) and on and on.
Global things third: we still have the Yellow Vests, at least. Also: I hate ZionismCall the cops on me….
The reality is that mainstream journalists simply won’t stand up for the difference between Zionism and anti-Semitism – even if brave Jews like that one in the photo do – and even if such inaccuracies hurt the image of the everyday Jew.
But such is the effectiveness of Israeli hasbara (1), counter-information propaganda aimed at Western audiences, that even the word “Jew” cannot be broached. The Western concept that the word “Jew” is somehow a racial slur was hilariously lampooned by the US TV show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
And it affected this article, too: I thought the title should be, “France’s ‘Holy Secular Empire’ slurs Yellow Vests as anti-Jew, bans anti-Zionism” – and why not? It’s shorter, and I like to pretend that column inches still matter in digital media. It’s also more accurate: “Semitic” is a language – meaning the branch which includes Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic – yet it has been appropriated/given to the adherents of Judaism, regardless of national origin, for so long that the average person now associates “Semite” solely with Jews.
For example, I just had a fine English colleague proofread my upcoming book, Socialism’s Ignored Success Story: Iranian Islamic Socialism, and in one part I discussed out how the “non-Semitic Iranians” might have been predisposed to disagree with certain early Islamic leaders who pushed pro-Arab, and thus ethnically sectarian, policies. This intelligent journalist noted in red next to “the non-Semitic Iranians” the following: “?”. LOL, I changed it, because this is even more of a lost cause than my effort to use “Southwest Asian” instead of the Eurocentric “Middle East”. And I changed the headline because I thought that many half-hearted anti-racists would see “anti-Jew” and hysterically think, “I am too turned off to click on this link – the language is too harsh. The writer must be a nut.”
I covered that demonstration for PressTV. It was organised by the Union of French Jews for Peace, a wonderful group I have interviewed for years. Heck, some of the very best pro-Palestinian activists in France are Jewish! That is where this young man belonged. The protest was expressly against all racism and expressly against the attempt to slur the Yellow Vests as anti-Semitic.
We numbered about 700 people, with plenty of Yellow Vests, and we garnered far less media coverage (in French: At Ménilmontant, a demonstration of real anti-racists’ against anti-Semitism), but plenty of Israeli hasbara. The Times of Israel headline read, “At Ménilmontant a man yelled ‘Netanyahu licks the (rear end) of Hitler”. If this is how they treat those who are protesting against anti-Semitism, imagine how they treat Palestinians, LOL….
As usual, the people I interviewed there put it better than I could, even though that’s my job:
The Yellow Vests are not ethnic nor religious – they are social, political and fiscal. These are workers who work yet still can’t pay their bills at the end of the month, even though France is such a rich country. If there are anti-Jews in the Yellow Vests, well, 58% of the country supports the Yellow Vests, which equates to 39 million people: out of 39 million people you will find some jerks, and also some racists, but the slurring of the Yellow Vests as anti-Jew is only because the establishment and their toadies will do anything to stop the Yellow Vest movement… which will absolutely not stop.
It won’t stop because, as I wrote at the very beginning of the movement: there is simply no political pathway for the Yellow Vests’ political ideas to be implemented. Therefore, they have no choice but to continue because political demands aren’t whims, but are almost implacably formed over time – in this case, eight years of far-right economic austerity. Yellow Vests can only turn to other Yellow Vests.
At the big demonstration at Place de la République there were 20,000 people – this is a very rare instance of a demonstration in France not being obviously undercounted by authorities; many put the official numbers of the Saturday Yellow Vests at 1/3rd the official total.
But I wasn’t going to to République to celebrate the fake-leftist idea of anti-racism, even though most everyone else did. You had Catholic bishops there, even though they are supposed to not get involved in political demonstrations; you had Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy; you had plenty of attractive, young, hip people in the very heart of hipster Paris. What’s certain is that everyone was breaking their arms patting each other (and themselves) on the back for being so very progressive, tolerant, modern and leftist.
That made it really quite similar to the largest ever gatherings of the Holy Secular Empire: the 4-million person marches after the Charlie Hebdo attacks (see pictures above), which was at Place de la République too. I was there doing my usual dissident thing in very unwelcoming environment, LOL, and back then what all those fake-leftists hemmed and hawed about was the answer to this simple question: “How is drawing a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad bent over, with his butt cheeks spread, and a star over his anus, or a cartoon of Mohammad filming a porn movie not inflammatory / impolite/ dangerous / racist / Islamophobic / yelling “fire “in a crowded theater?” Fake-leftists still have no answer for that, of course, but they marched just the same and got teary over the sacred glories of French “liberty”.
Real leftists said, “Well, political science ain’t science, so like can attract like here: that stuff is dangerous and reactionary so I’m not surprised who they ran into….”
Another iteration of the media wing of the HSE was on the very day of the 2017 presidential election: French fake-leftist newspaper nonpareil Libération knowingly broke a law insisting on media neutrality just prior to elections by printing a cover which read, “Do what you want but vote Macron”.
This is the way I imagined the paper’s budget meeting that day: the hysterical female journalists and the namby-pamby male journalist at Libé (or the namby-pamby female journalists and the hysterical male journalists – that’s fine by me) were sitting around their meeting room table and swearing before their atheistic god that they simply could not risk democracy taking place without fetters; their technocratic creed and noblesse oblige forced them – Gandhi-like – to flout the law in order to save the establishment from the far-right Marine Le Pen… even if that meant putting in the far-right (economically) Macron (who is also now a far-right imperialist, too). If history judged their efforts not the equal of Gandhi’s, Libération had but one choice: to formalise and protect a caste system, also like Gandhi.
The Yellow Vests do not believe that “Jews are secretly in charge” – what they oppose is the continuation of this caste culture, which allows high finance, careerist politicians and hipster Parisians to be the only ones writing public policy.
The Yellow Vests, I’m sure, are majority pro-Palestinian, but I’m even more sure that they view this banning of anti-Zionism as a truly dangerous distraction which will not keep them from relying on food banks at the end of the month.
Those slurs won’t stick, but the Yellow Vests will – more marches are certain. Jews welcome… but only if they are Yellow Vest sympathisers – this is a class-based political movement, of course! Practitioners of identity politics will never be welcome.
As far as Macron… ugh. You have not failed to disappoint, and I openly expected you to be worse than Marine Le Pen, who is terrible. Macron proves, once again, that capitalism-imperialism is far worse than (and is the cause of) racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sectarianism, etc.
Do you know what hasbara is? Let an Israeli journalist tell you.
Below, an excellent explanation of what “hasbara” means as a tool of Israeli global public relations.
A short discussion of the Israeli term used to describe the ongoing, ever-growing, national propaganda effort.
Hasbara is a form of propaganda aimed at an international audience, primarily, but not exclusively, in western countries. It is meant to influence the conversation in a way that positively portrays Israeli political moves and policies, including actions undertaken by Israel in the past. Often, Hasbara efforts includes a negative portrayal of the Arabs and especially of Palestinians.
The Hebrew meaning of the word Hasbara (הסברה) is “explanation” (the term “propaganda” has a different word in Hebrew – תעמולה). I believe that the popular use of this term also reflects a widespread public notion that a better effort of explaining Israel’s actions to the world will generate better understandings of Israel’s policies, and more international support. A less common use of the verb “to explain” (להסביר), which has to do with welcoming someone, was used in the past by the Tourism Ministry in campaigns urging Israelis to show a hospitable approach to tourists.
Hasbara represents only one side of propaganda, as it is mostly aimed at foreign audience. The use of the Hebrew term Hasbara in a critical context, rather than “propaganda” or “public diplomacy” (the title of the Wikipedia entry on the issue), is necessary, because Hasbara efforts are wider and their goals much more ambitious than any similar activities taken by all democracies and most non-democracies. Hasbara targets political elites, opinion makers and the public simultaneously; it includes traditional advocacy efforts as well as more general appeals made through mass media, and it is carried out by government agencies, non-governmental organizations, lobbying groups, private citizens, students, journalists and bloggers.
The Israeli government encourages all citizens to actively engage in Hasbara. Recently, it even distributed brochures with talking points to all Israelis traveling abroad (a Hebrew web version of the campaign can be viewed here). Israelis are asked to engage in politically-oriented conversations with their hosts and contacts abroad. Rather than discuss the Palestinian conflict, they are advised to cite Israeli technological achievements, mention environmental policies and take pride in notable cultural works. The West Bank is to be discussed – under its ancient Hebrew name, Judea and Samaria – as a potential tourist marvel.
Until a few years ago, the main government agency carrying out Hasbara work was the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through its Media and Hasbara department. Under Ehud Olmert’s government, and more so under Netanyahu’s, there was a considerable increase in Hasbara efforts. Prime Minister Netanyahu has launched for the first time a Hasbara Ministry, headed by a government minister (the current hasbara minister is Yuli Edelstein). The Hasbara Ministry includes a situation room, which operates in five languages; it has a new-media team that can reach, according to the office’s web page, 100,000 volunteers on social media networks, as well as many bloggers.
On top of the Hasbara Ministry, there is a Hasbara branch in the Prime Minister’s Office (in charge of both local and international PR). The IDF Spokesperson has an international arm with a new media branch, which makes Hasbara efforts and does not limit itself to providing information on army activities. Other government agencies, such as the Ministry of Tourism or the Ministry of Culture, also take part in ad-hoc Hasbara activities. There are other agencies that have gradually moved into greater involvement in Hasbara – perhaps the most notable is The Jewish Agency, which used to serve as a liaison to Jewish communities abroad, and now trains its envoys to American campuses to engage in propaganda.
Under Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the Foreign Ministry was instructed to take a bigger role in the Hasbara effort (a popular rant against the foreign ministry for many years was that it deals with peacemaking instead of advocacy, and Lieberman has promised to solve that). I was contacted awhile ago by a private agency that won a contract with the foreign ministry; they were looking for professionals to play hostile journalists in simulations with Israeli diplomats.
Much of the Hasbara work carried out outside official channels – but with heavy official influence – is carried out through non-governmental organizations such as Stand With Us, The Israel Project and more. These organizations produce resources – booklets, slideshows, flyers, maps, polls and more – and spin news events in ways which are favorable to the Israeli government. A lot of thought is put into influencing opinion-makers: journalists and bloggers are flown on a regular basis to tours in Israel, accompanied by government officials, while Israeli representatives – former diplomats, journalists, soldiers and officers – are brought to give lectures at campuses, think-tanks, conferences and other public events around the world. Organizations also try to influence the grassroots level by granting Hasbara fellowships to international students in Israel.
(Noam Sheizaf is an independent journalist and editor. He has worked for Tel Aviv’s Ha-ir local paper, for Ynet.co.il and for the Maariv daily, among others.)
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