From SWC Board of Trustees Member and Film Director, Brett Ratner
Letter from Paris
January 22, 2009
As the youngest and most recently elected member of the board of trustees of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance, I feel compelled to share with you a shocking and radically disturbing correspondence I have just received from a well known and well respected journalist friend from Paris. My friend wishes to remain anonymous because of fear for her job and the well being, safety and even life of herself and her family. Why these mortifying circumstances should be true will become obvious as you read her chilling words.
I am sending you this e-mail regarding the situation in France concerning the Israeli offensive in the Gaza strip. I doubt I will tell you something that you already don’t know, but still, things look pretty grim right now. We already reached an all time low in this country during the second Intifada. The phenomenon which appeared during that time, especially in the high schools located in the Parisian suburbs, where the majority of the students are Muslim, has not disappeared.
To summarize in a few words a very complicated and painful situation, it is impossible for an individual, whether a student or a teacher, to say that you are a Jew. If you say so, you’ll end in a hospital. Don’t show any hostility to Al-Qaeda, or Hamas, you’ll be exposed to the same kind of violence. You can also talk to some of these kids, they’re open to discussion. Many of them dream to become a martyr and blow up themselves. It’s after all understandable, that’s what they hear in their mosque.
The situation right now is much worse. And it’s only the beginning. We had demonstrations every Saturday in every big city in France, and also smaller cities, against the Israeli bombings in Gaza. There’s nothing wrong with that per se. We live in a democracy after all. These demonstrations have a different flavor. The 20.000 people demonstrating in Paris were not in the streets to claim peace but to shout that Israel should be destroyed. Israeli flags were burned, the support was for Hamas, not Fatah (as you know, this organization has betrayed his own people), and you could see giant pictures of Nasrallah. One of the sentences you could hear, repeatedly, was “Death to the Jews and the Zionists”. This was going on in Paris among other places. Two weeks ago the demonstrators stopped Place de l’Opera, shouted Allah is great and prayed [to] Allah. This is a fact, not bad science-fiction. In Mulhouse, the demonstrators wanted to end the day at the synagogue, and destroy it. The police prevented it.
It’s a pretty bad time right now to pray in a synagogue in the eastern part of France – bombs are being thrown once in a while, let’s say once a week – or in a Parisian suburb.
Now, who are these people? Where do these demonstrators come from? You have the usual suspects like the Communist party, the various Trotskyites parties, members of the National Front, people known to be close to revisionists groups and, mainly, ordinary people, from North Africa who suddenly claim that Allah, Hamas and the destruction of Israel matter more than their French citizenship. What we saw in the past three weeks were the first massive Islamic demonstrations in France. And they’re not going to disappear like that. A peace agreement in the Middle-East won’t make things disappear.
Just this week-end, a famous French stand-up comedian called Arthur could not perform in a French city. There too many demonstrators outside the concert hall, the police could not manage security inside the building. Now, who is Arthur? A Zionist loony? Someone who said death to all Palestinians? Arthur did not even give his advice about what's going on in the Middle-East. He's just a Jew. Obviously a crime nowadays.
I sometimes wonder how people are going to react to this situation. Not Jewish people. For them, we already know. But let’s say my colleagues at (media outlet deleted), in the place known to be one of the center of the so called French elite.
A few of them don’t enjoy these demonstrations. Only a few of them. The vast majority doesn’t understand the danger Israel is facing with Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah. They don’t understand the danger our country is facing with a growing minority who believe that the law of the French republic matters less than the Islamic law. It is a problem, a huge one.
With all of the hyped details of every luridly tragic event in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict why have the American media from top to bottom not been all over this – why have they not devoted much more coverage to these disgraceful, anti-Semitic events in France?
Los Angeles, California
SWC URGES FRENCH GOVERNMENT ACTION
Urgent meeting earlier this week with SWC Director, International Relations, Shimon Samuels and French Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie over the wave of