Friday, September 15, 2006

Francocentrism: better than Facism!

Last night I had the great joy of attending a gathering which included both French Studies and Jewish Studies graduate students. The Jewish Studies kids asked me why French Jews, and after I gave a somewhat tipsy explanation, they accused me of having a "Francocentric" take on Jewish history. Unlike some other accusations, this has a fair basis in truth.

Since I seem to be locked out of the French building at the moment, I'll add a bit of substance to an otherwise rather pointless and purely self-referential post. My cousin Caroline Glick has a lot to say about Israel-Europe relations. She cites a statistic, via FrontPageMag, that "on average, Muslims attack Jews in Paris 12 times a day." I wonder if this is true, but more, how it could be measured if no one in France is officially any particular religion. Caroline discusses England, and also Europe in general, but to continue on the Francocentric note, here's what she has to say about France:

These attacks against Jews in Europe are accompanied by ever increasing official hostility towards Israel on the part of European governments. On the second day of the war with Hizbullah, Chirac felt comfortable alleging that "Israel's military offensive against Lebanon is totally disproportionate." Chirac then acidly asked, "Is destroying Lebanon the ultimate goal?"

Chirac's remarks opened the floodgates for anti-Israel propaganda throughout Europe. They were followed by the barring of El Al cargo planes carrying weapons shipments from the US from European airports. That prohibition still stands.

From the moment Chirac launched this unjustified diplomatic assault against Israel, his government began acting as an agent of the Lebanese government, which itself acted throughout the war as Hizbullah's mouthpiece. So from the second day of the war, the groundwork was already laid for UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which treats Israel and Hizbullah as equals and lets both Syria and Iran off the hook for their central roles in Hizbullah's illegal war against Israel.

Uh, great. Enough Francocentrism for the moment, here's Caroline on Europe:

It is absolutely clear that in the coming years, Europe's hostility towards Israel and the Jewish people as a whole will continue to rise.

How then, is Israel to contend with Europe? As Israel's largest trading partner, relations with Europe are vital to Israel's economic well-being. So it is clear that Israel cannot simply turn its back on the free world's Achilles heel.

At the same time, given Europe's hostility, it is similarly obvious that the direction of the Olmert-Livni-Peretz government's policies toward Europe must be reversed. Rather than enabling Europe to increase its influence in the region, Israel must take every step possible to minimize Europe's foothold in its neighborhood.

Israel should use Blair's exit from the world stage as an opportunity to lock its doors and shutter its windows before any new European friends can come inside.

While this might make me a bad UChicago grad, I don't see the value of Europe and Israel getting along as a mainly economic issue. The West, that entity anti-anti-Semites are supposed to be so fond of these days, consists largely of Europe, not just of the square mile around Zabars. Getting along is not a matter of trade, it's a matter of attitudes, not to mention national survival. I understand that the point of Israel is that Jewish fate is no longer in European hands. But the Jews are doomed if we interpret the fact that we are by definition in an ideological space between Islam and Christian Europe as a reason to accept being hated. We are a people like no other, but so are all other peoples. We can be a nation and get along with other nations. This doesn't have to entail "like me, like me!" politics, but it also doesn't have to mean denying all claims of international connection other than economic.

As for Caroline's main point, re: European presence in the Middle East, I have to check again on the French building, so I'll let commentors go at it.


Petey said...

"they accused me of having a "Francocentric" take"

Ah ha! More evidence!

It's only a short journey from being Franco to being Mussolini. And from there, it's only a hop, skip, and a jump to being Hitler.

In vino veritas.

Phoebe said...


Rita said...

Caroline Glick is your cousin? She gave a talk to the group I was with in Israel a couple years ago and some guy tried to argue with her, she kicked his ass, and then he proposed to her. It was a very strange procession of events. Anyway, she's a pretty high-profile cousin to have.