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December 26, 2014

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 26, 2014 PAGE 5A By Ben Cohen It's an article that's more than 10 years old now, but I still maintain that anyone who wants to get an insight into the dynamics of anti- Semitism in France would do well to consult "France's Scarlet Letter," published by the journalist Marie Brenner in the June 2003 edition of Vanity Fair. In that superlative piece, which had at its core a pro- file of Sammy Ghozlan, the Jewish ex-cop who started his own agency to monitor and expose anti-Semitic incidents, Brenner provided fascinating insight into the class divisions that streak the French Jewish com- munity. Among her cast of characters there was the working class, Algerian-born Ghozlan, who spent his career fighting criminals in the bleak outskirts of Paris; there was the aristocrat David de Rothschild, a banker with a haute-bourgeois lifestyle who gave Brenner the impression that Jews would do well not to "throw oil on the fire" of anti-Semitism that was starting to engulf the poor Sephardic communities in the suburbs; and there was Roger Cukierman, a former chairman of the Rothschild bank and the president of CRIF, the representative body of French Jewry, who, Brenner said, "had the sharp- est insights into the anti- Semitic problem, but was cautious by nature." Towards the end of the piece, Brenner recounted a conversation with Cukier- man in which he "snapped" that Ghozlan played a"totally negative function... Whatever the subject, he jumps on itto get his own publicity." Part of the problem for Cukierman was Ghozlan's tendency, based on his family's expe- riences as Jews in Muslim Algeria, to regard Jews un- der threat as compelled to choose between le cercueil ou la valise (the coffin or the suitcase). Moreover, in Brenner's judgement, "Cukierman put the highest premium on respectability and did not want to be con- sidered pro-Zionist." Today, as back then, Cuki- erman remains a respectable, sober figure, but his view of the situation in France has changed so radically that, were Brenner to return to the subject of French anti- Semitism now, she would end up with a dramatically different article. Here's why. Cukierman recently addressed a rally in the Paris suburb of Creteil, called to protest the brutal assault on a young Jewish couple whose home was in- vaded by three anti-Semitic thugs. Appallingly, the female was raped, the male was held hostage, and their debit cards were used at a local ATM to drain their bank accounts-- because, as the assailants told them, "Jews have money." French Jews were out- raged, not the least because the atrocity in Creteil brought back painful memories of the 2006 kidnapping, torture and excruciating death of Ilan Halimi, the young Jew- ish salesman abducted by a vicious gang that also chose its target on the grounds that "Jews have money." At the Creteil rally, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced that the fight against anti-Semitism was as a consequence a"nati0nal cause," but the import of that remark paled in comparison to what Cukierman said. "Jews will leave in large numbers and France will fall into the hands of either Shari'a Law or the Front Na- tional," Cukierman declared to applause. I almost fell off my chair when I read those words, for here was a reso- lutely establishment figure, who has led CRIF since 2001, publicly saying that French Jews are sandwiched between the creeping radicalization of the Muslim community, now almost 10 percent of the population, and the right- wing extremism of the Front National, a party with indu- bitably fascist Origins even if its new leader, Marine Le Pen, wants us to believe that it is kinder and gentler these days. I relate all this not to argue that Ghozlan was right and Cukierman wrong, more than a decade ago. For one thing, i had the honor of in- terviewing Cukierman back in May, and he was forthright and honest about the dangers that French Jews face. But more importantly, he has done the serious work of persuading French leaders that anti-Semitism is a civi- lizational threat to France. It wasn't always that way; as Marie Brenner reported, in 2003 Cukierman wrote an open letter to then President Jacques Chirac bemoaning the fact that the "leaders of the country like to play clown anti-Jewish acts. They prefer to see these as ordinary violence. We are deluged with statistics designed to show that an attack against a syna- gogue is an act of violence and not anti-Semitism." As the recent comments against anti-Semitism of Cazeneuve, Prime Minister Manuel Vails, and President Francois Hoi- lande all demonstrate, that is manifestly no |onger the case. The harsh truth--and this is something that has major implications for the debate about whether Jews should leave France en masse, a de- cision that could well trigger similar exoduses elsewhere in Europe--is that there is a limit to what governments can do. When I metwith Cuki- erman in May, I also had the opportunity to speakwith one of his' young aides, Yonatan Arfi. Arfi made the pivotal point that, whereas anti- Semitism was once regarded as a "vertical" problem, and therefore one that could be dealt with effectively by gov- ernment agencies, these days it's "horizontal" and requires advocates to engage in the tricky work of unraveling the myths, slanders, and social norms that constitute anti- Semitism and anti-Zionism in our time. Cukierman is now in- sinuating that we are losing this battle. A similar point has been made by Professor Robert Wistrich, the world's unrivaled authority on anti- Semitism, in a recent article in which he posited that we are witnessing" "the begin- ning of the end of French Jewry." "In France, as in much of Europe," Wistrich wrote, "the freedom to live one's identity as a Jew has become not only much more limited but also much more peril- ous." The coming months will be decisive in determin- ing whether the stark choice between Shari'a, or fascism, or aliyah to Israel, is upon us. I still dare to hope that a fourth option--integrated, successful Diaspora Jewish communities who proudly identify with Israel without fear--hasn't entirely disap- peared. Ben Cohen is the Shill- man analyst for His writings on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics have been published in Com- mentary, the New York Post, Ha'aretz, Jewish Ideas Daily and many other publications. :lnlan in By Stephen Flatow (JTA)--A former Clinton administration envoy has let the cat out of the bag on the issue of Palestinian incite- ment, putting him squarely at odds with Secretary of State John Kerry. Shibley Telhami was one of the Clinton administra- tion's representatives to the Trilateral U.S.-Israeli- Palestinian Anti-Incitement Committee. Never heard of it? That's because after meeting a few times in 1999-2000, the committee stopped functioning. Now we know why. In a Washington Post Op-Ed on Dec. 6, Teihami revealed that the commit- tee hit an impasse because the Israeli and Palestinian representatives "could not agree how to define incite- ment." The Israelis "would present, for instance, a state- ment by a Muslim religious figure against Israel, and Palestinians would respond by citing Israel, and Palestin- ians would respond by citing settlement construction By David Suissa Jewish Journal "What will you tell the president when you see him?" was my daughter Eva's first reaction when I told her I'd been invited to the White House Chanukah party (Actually, it was her second reaction. Her first was, "Take me!"). Kids are innocent that way. They don't realizethat when you have over a hundred people crowding the" leader of the free world,, it's not so easy to get in a word edgewise. But I got lucky. It's not what I told the president that mat- tered, it's what I heard him say or episodes of Palestinian humiliation." Not quite. The prob- lem is not an occasional statement "by a Muslim religious figure." Everyone understands that the Pales- tinian Authority cannot be held responsible for every opinion expressed by some individual Palestinian. The problem is that those Muslim religious figures are sometimes paid officials of the Palestinian Author- ity and their statements are sometimes broadcast by authority-funded news media. The Palestinian Authority must be held ac- countable for statements made by its own officials or disseminated by its media outlets. The Palestinian posi- tion is, of course, absurd. "Settlement construction" and "humiliation" are not incitement. Just because the Palestinians don't like Jews building homes in Jerusalem ("settlement con- struction") or Palestinians being checked for weapons at security checkpoints ("hu- when few people were paying attention. After the president made his Chanukah remarks and the lighting ceremony was over, he came down to greet the thick crowd of guests along a receiving line. Because the Glatt kosher lamb chops were so amazing, and my friend Selwyn Gerber and I were completely immersed in the shmooze-with-every- cool-Jew routine prior to the president's arrival, I came late to the waiting crowd, which means I ended up about four rows back. Here's where my luck kicked in. There was an imposing and tall white-haired gentleman miliation') doesn't make it incitement. The American represen- tatives to the committee, as rational people, should have been able to distinguish between the reasonable Israeli position and the un- reasonable Palestinian one. It is not "taking sides" for U.S. envoys to acknowledge obvious facts. If a delegate to a scientific committee said the earth was round and another delegate said the earth was flat, the U.S. representative should not have a problem acknowl- edging that the earth is round. Telhami and his col- leagues obviously did have such a problem. They never defined incitement and as a result the committee served no purpose. The main point of Tel- hami's Op-Ed was to mini- mize the significance of incitement. This gets him and the Palestinian leader- ship off the hook: Telhami for his miserable performance on the Trilateral Committee, and the Palestinian leaders to my right who had a boom- ing voice and was determined to say something to the presi- dent (I think he may have had a few single malts, but that's another story.) So, when the president got closer to us, and I was prepared to launch my very tame, "Mr. President, do you have a mes- sage you want to share with the Jews of Los Angeles?" line, THE MAN TO MY RIGHT launched the most brilliant Presidential Chanukah greet- ing of all time: "Mr. President," he said in his booming voice, "when I told my Christian friend I was coming to a Chanukah party at the White House, he for their vicious incitement against Jews and Israel. "Incitement can make matters worse, but it is rarely a primary cause of violence and often is its outcome," Telhami asserted. Kerry disagrees. "To have this kind of act, which is a pure result of in- citement, of calls for 'days of rage,' of just irresponsibility, is unacceptable," Kerry said last month following the terrorist attack that killed five Israelis in a Jerusalem synagogue. Kerry appeared to be refer- ring to the fact that on Oct. 30, the Fatah movement -- chaired by Palestinian Authority President Mah- moud Abbas -- called on the Palestinian public to stage "days of rage" against Israe- lis. Abbas himself vowed to prevent the AI-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem from being "contaminated" by Jews. Official Palestinian websites featured political cartoons showing Palestinians run- ning over Jews with their cars. One cartoon showed an Israeli soldier about to told me, 'I didn't know the president was Jewish!" The president let out a seri- ous belly laugh. But in all the commotion of people asking other questions and everyone clicking their smart phone cameras, it was easy to lose sight of the president to see if he had anything to say. I kept my eyes straight on him. It was clear that the "President was Jewish" idea had intrigued him. After about three or four seconds, as he was walking away, and looking at no one in particular, the president just said, "I am, in my soul." So, there you have it: The leader of the free world says he's Jewish, in his soul. rape a Muslim woman who was labeled "Al Aqsa." Obviously Kerry was right. Palestinian leaders and me- dia called for violence, and violence followed. Telhami can't see it because he doesn't want to. The Trilateral Committee on Incitement needs to be revived, but this time with a clear definition of what constitutes "incitement." It wouldn't be difficult to do. Many precedents in inter- national law enable us to ac- curately define incitement. At the Nuremberg Trials, Julius Streicher, publisher of the anti-Semitic newspaper Der Sturmer, was convicted of incitement to mass mur- der. In 2003, a Rwandan newspaper editor and two radio broadcasters were con- victed by the International Criminal Court of incite- ment to genocide because they used dehumanizing language and encouraged violence. So I thank Shibley Tel- hami for being uninten- tionally upfront about the reasons for the failure of the anti-incitement committee. Now that we know what went wrong and why, we can fix it, guided by Kerry's powerful words about the incitement that led to the Jerusalem massacre. Stephen Flatow is a law- yer in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was killed in a terrorist at- tack in 1995 while studying in Israel. -/..SRAEL.