“As Happy as God in France”: The state of French Jewish elites, Part 2

Part 1

Raymond Aron on Jewish ethnocentrism

It is effectively illegal in France to suggest that over-represented Jewish elites are ethnocentric, have dual-loyalty problems with regard to Israel, and that this has an influence on the way power is wielded in the country. Two men who do so, the nationalist essayist Alain Soral and the Franco-Cameroonian comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, have paid a hefty price for it, although their struggle has earned them a certain notoriety and place in history in compensation.

I will therefore not say anything of the community, but quote Raymond Aron, a universally-respected liberal-conservative French patriot of Jewish origin, who died in 1983. Towards the end of his life he increasingly, in his ever-diplomatic, reasoned and understated way, criticized the rise of Western Jewish elites’ ethnocentrism and uncritical support for Israel, worrying that these would contribute to anti-Semitism.

In a text sent to the 28 January 1980 World Jewish Congress, Aron said:

In the United States, the American Jewish Community, almost always if not always, supports the diplomatic positions adopted by the Israeli government. The French Jews who publish Jewish reviews and are active in Jewish organizations do the same. Whatever is the Israeli party (or coalition) in power, the official representatives of the community support the arguments of the Israeli government. This situation does not strike me as healthy.[1]

These elites have typically paired their uncritical support for Israeli nationalism with hysterical opposition to any flicker of French nationalism.

After mentioning his annoyance with the Israeli government for sending an official reprimand to his magazine L’Express for his having criticized Israel in an article, Aron explicitly raised the problem of dual-loyalty:

I have a hard time understanding why those [French Jews] who consider themselves Israeli first are still French [citizens]. Loyalty to a county is not total or totalitarian, but it is political par excellence, it is constitutive of citizenship. Dual citizenship exists legally, [but] there are difficulties for Jews occupying, in their country, essentially political positions. When Henry Kissinger was Secretary of State, his loyalty, his allegiance was first to the United States. The same is true for French civil servants, for French political commentators.[2]

In his memoirs, he even says that non-Jews have a right to question Jews who seem to put Israel first for dual-loyalty (an unthinkable argument in polite company today!) and that these Jews should renounce French citizenship and become Israelis:

From the moment that their [Jewish] consciousness binds them to Israel, a State among others even if it has particularities, non-Jewish Frenchmen have a right to ask to which political community they belong to. … As citizens of the French Republic, they [Jews] legitimately maintain spiritual or moral ties with the Israelis, but, if these ties with Israel become political and take precedence over French citizenship, then they should logically choose Israeli citizenship. …

I meet Jews, old and young, who, so to speak, have not forgiven France or the French for the Jewish statute [the Vichy regime’s race laws] and the vélodrome d’Hiver roundup by the French police …. If they have not forgiven France, then it is no longer their nation, but the country in which they agreeably reside. A normal attitude for the old, who cannot start a different existence. But the young who have become indifferent to the fate of their “host country,” their nation, why don’t they choose Israel?[3]

If the problems of  dual-loyalty and hostility to the historic French nation were already apparent to Aron, and is suggested by the quotes of Strauss-Khan and Valls in Part 1, many French Jews have become less and less shy about their identification. The most prominent was perhaps Arno Klarsfeld, a senior government official and Jewish activist lawyer (he wears both hats) as well as son of “Nazi-hunters” Serge and Beate Klarsfeld, who in 2002 temporarily joined the Israeli Defense Forces as a border guard. He proudly explained to public TV channel France2:

I think it’s important to not only be spectator of one’s destiny but also an actor. And I couldn’t identify with the foreign policy of France, which has its interests, but aren’t those of the Jewish people. … If I thought Israel was an occupying country, I would not have joined the army here. Really. … I think the root of the conflict is that Palestinian leaders still do not want to recognize the existence of Israel as a Jewish State.

Aron had also written a scathing review of Bernard-Henri Lévy’s Francophobic screed, L’idéologie française, which sought to demonize countless historical French thinkers as proto-fascist anti-Semites and somehow portray France as congenitally hateful:

If one objected to Bernard-Henri Lévy that he is violating all the rules of honest interpretation and of the historical method, he would reply with arrogance that he doesn’t care what Ivory Tower watchdogs think. … Non-Jewish Frenchmen will conclude that the Jews are even more different from other Frenchmen than they had imagined, because an author acclaimed by Jewish groups shows himself incapable of understanding so many expressions of French thought …. By his hysteria, he will feed the hysteria of a fraction of the Jewish community, already inclined towards delirious words and actions. A work of public interest, wrote the conclusion of the review of the Nouvel Observateur. Of public interest, or a public danger?[4]

In other words, Aron is pointing out that “B.-H. L.’s” works will lead to anti-Semitism because of their blatant hostility to the French intellectual tradition—an excellent example of the theme of Jews as a hostile elite.

Though B.-H.L.’s works have been widely panned as pompous, vapid and boring, and although he has been caught publicly lying several times, the man remains a fixture of the French elite, enjoying widespread access at the highest levels of the media and of the state. For critics, he has become the symbol of extreme elite Jewish over-representation and ethnocentrism in France. Aron’s fears regarding Jewish ethnocentrism have largely been realized and grown more acute, contributing to ethnic tensions with Whites, Blacks and Arabs.

The “Double Standard”

While Blacks and Muslims have come to emulate Jews in ethnic lobbying in France, Jews remain much, much better at it, while ethnic French are banned from doing it. Structurally, the result over time is constant violation of France’s theoretical non-recognition of ethnicities and of “equality before the law.”

French gentile politicians and journalists know which way their bread is buttered, so they pander to ethnic groups based on their perceived and real influence. Arabs and Roma, being powerless, are often scapegoated, while gentile politicians are careful not to offend the sensitivities of Jewish elites, and the more ambitious will prefer to actively cultivate an alliance. This has attained somewhat ridiculous proportions with Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande. In fact, today, it doesn’t seem to be really possible to even be vaguely critical of Israel and to rise in the French politico-media system. In 1967, shortly after the Six Day War, President Charles de Gaulle made his (in)famous statement that the Jews in Israel “remained what they had always been: an elite people, self-confident, and dominating.” Such comments, from the man recognized by the Establishment as France’s greatest patriot, would today automatically relegate one to the “untouchable,” “fascist” far-right.

The bias in favor of perceived Jewish interests, naturally stemming from Jewish over-represensation and ethnocentrism, and its enforcement (notably by de facto and de jure criminalization of any discussion of the causes), is commonly known as “Zionism.” In this informal sense, “Zionism” is used to mean “Jewish racism” as opposed to anything specifically to do with Palestine (although, certainly, Jewish racists tend to also be Zionists in the strict sense). This results in the infamous “double standard” (deux poids, deux mesures), whereby Jewish suffering and interests are given overwhelming priority over, say, White, Black or Arab suffering and interests.

The double standard is arguably more severe in France than in another other country. A few examples:

  • The fatwa against French nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen, particularly since the September 1987 “affair of the detail” (the term he used for whether the gas chambers had been used in the Holocaust, not for the Holocaust itself), including blocking of any possible political alliances with the mainstream right (unlike in Italy, Austria or the Netherlands), demonization and ostracism of the Front National and of any who would associate or dialogue with them. Combined, naturally, with strong support for Israeli ethno-nationalism.
  • The notorious 1990 Gayssot Act outlawed all revisionist historical investigation (not to mention “Holocaust denial”) concerning the persecution of the Jews of Europe during the Second World War, under threat of imprisonment.
    The politico-media and legal/extra-legal persecution of Franco-Cameroonian comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala following a December 2003 sketch making fun of a Jewish fundamentalist Israeli settler (it concluded “Isra-HEIL!”). Dieudonné then got into trouble for trying to explain why this act offending Jewish elites got him into trouble while his joking about other ethnic communities did not get him into trouble.
  • The promotion of Islamophobia and Arab-baiting, ruthless repression of any perceived (as opposed to proven) anti-Semitism. Harassment of Muslims for wearing religious symbols (headscarf, burqa), encouragement of Jews to wear the kippah.
    Vast differences in politico-media coverage based on who the victims are (any attack on Jews is given massive coverage, attacks by Jews are ignored).
  • The outlawing of advocacy of Boycott Divest Sanctions (BDS) concerning Israel since 2010 as “racism.” French courts have approved this tendentious interpretation of the Lellouche Act. In February 2014, 20 people were convicted of “discrimination” for BDS activities. (Christiane Taubira, the Black Socialist Minister of Justice, was visibly uncomfortable and indeed afraid when asked why this was still outlawed, explaining: “it’s a serious topic, it’s a dangerous topic,” i.e., extremely dangerous and sensitive for a politician to broach.)
  • Finally, the warm ties between the government of the “left-wing,” “anti-racist” Socialist Party with right-wing, Likudnik-Beitanu Israel, an aggressively militarist, part-theocratic, expansionist and objectively racist ultra-nationalist State.

*   *   *

It is hard to tell exactly what the impact of elite Jewish over-representation and ethnocentrism is in France. These elites have tended to identify more with America and with Israel, and far less with the Catholic, European French people than do ethnic French elites. At its most extreme, this Zionism is blamed for critically contributing to the general pursuit of “globalist” and anti-national policies including borderlessness in all spheres, European integration, immigration, multiculturalism, French guilt, free trade, the free movement of capital, various wars of intervention since the 1990s, and the general discrediting of the concepts of national sovereignty and majoritarian democracy (because “the people” is invariably “populist”).

In short, the claim here is that the structural “globalist” tendency of dismantlement of France as a cohesive Nation and as a sovereign State, which is now well under way, is a Judeo-bourgeois tendency.

In fact, Jewish intellectuals in France have embraced a variety of causes and can be found on many sides of political issues, including nationalist causes. Conservative pundit Éric Zemmour is the only one who has consistently advocated immigration restrictionism and French nationalism. Emmanuel Todd, who has Anglo-American and Jewish heritage, has led a center-left apology of the French Nation against the euro-regime (although he is immigrationist). The hostility to immigration of Alain Finkielkraut or Élisabeth Lévy is more recent and perhaps more opportunistic (the former has explicitly argued that Muslim immigration and multiculturalism are bad for the Jewish community). That Jews are also among the leading nationalist intellectuals appears to reflect their incredible predominance as public intellectuals in general and the fact they cannot be suspected of anti-Semitism and tend to get less harassed (notably by Jewish groups) for “racism,” notably when criticizing Islam.

French nationalist Jewish intellectuals tend to be in the minority however. More typical is Jewish elites, including Finkielkraut in the past, taking the lead in the 1980s in organizing Arabs and Blacks to fight for immigration and multiculturalism through organizations like SOS Racisme (not unlike the Jewish role in promoting the organization of Blacks in America or of proletarians in Europe). The latter was co-founded by (Jewish) politician Julien Dray as an informal wing of the Socialist Party (notably to get non-White votes) and its current president is Cindy Léoni, who is of Israelo-Senegalese origin.  Jewish organizations more generally have tended to demonize French nationalism and prosecute discussion of ethnicity, and specific Jewish intellectuals and politicians have very often taken the leading roles in the promotion of “globalist” policies. It is hard to say however exactly how much French Jewish elites accentuated what were arguably pre-existing bourgeois tendencies.

Discomfort at the slow abolition of France and the very success of these over-bearing, ethnocentric and often hysterical elites have led to a backlash. Soral with his meta-political movement Égalité et Réconciliation (Equality and Reconciliation) and Dieudonné with his stand-up act have brought perhaps more people than in any other country to become aware of “Zionist power” and its boundless hypocrisy. Indeed, there has even been some success in uniting White, Black and Arab Frenchmen against Jewish racism. Zionist elites have become so successful in policing discourse that one commentator joked that Voltaire’s second-most famous (possibly apocryphal) quote on free speech was “anti-Semitic”: “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

End of Part 2 of 2.

[1]Published in Raymond Aron, Essais sur la condition juive contemporaine (Tallandier: 2007), p. 323.

[2]Ibid, p. 325.

[3]Raymond Aron, Mémoires (Julliard: 1983), pp. 707-9. Incidentally the author also expressed worry about Europe’s low fertility and is skeptical of immigration as a “solution.”

[4]Raymond Aron, “Provocation,” L’Express, 7-13 February 1981. Reprinted in Essais sur la condition juive contemporaine.