As Abbas constantly incites terror against Jews, France’s anti-Israel relentlessness can only be seen as an extension of France’s centuries-old anti-Semitism.
On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran – a regime that denies the fact that the Holocaust occurred and does not hide its intention to commit another holocaust – arrived in Paris for an official visit.
Two days earlier, Rouhani had been in Rome, where the Italian authorities, in a gesture of submission, covered up the nude statues of Rome’s Capitoline Museum. Rouhani thanked Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi for his “hospitality.” He did not thank President François Hollande.
No French journalist or politician mentioned International Holocaust Remembrance Day. French journalists spoke only of Rouhani’s “moderation” and “openness,” despite Iran’s dire human rights violations. Hollande evoked the rebirth of a “fruitful relationship” between Iran and France.
No French journalist or politician mentioned the Holocaust denial or the genocidal intentions of the Iranian regime; that Iran’s leaders regularly chant “Death to Israel” and “Death to America”; the malignant contents of Palestine, a book recently published by Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, or the dangers still inherent in Iran’s nuclear program.
Every newspaper article and politician’s speech in France was about the contracts French companies could sign with Iran and the return of Iran to a harmonious “concert of nations.”
Iran was presented on every side as a “reliable ally” of the West in the fight against the Islamic State.
France’s willful blindness concerning the very real threats Israel faces is characteristic of general attitude of France toward Israel for the last 50 years.
In the second half of the 1960s, after the end of the Algerian war, France adopted an “Arab policy.” It consisted of the creation of close ties with Arab dictatorships and, more broadly, with the authoritarian regimes of the Muslim world. The aim of the “Arab Policy” was to enable France to retain influence, whatever the price, even if it had damaging effects on the rest of the Western world.
It also consisted of severing strategic and military links between France and Israel.
France provided financial and economic help to the newborn Algerian regime. It abandoned Harkis (Algerian Arabs who sided with France) in exchange for the use of a naval base at Mers el-Kebir and the possibility of conducting nuclear tests in the Sahara Desert.
Historians have not reached a consensus about the estimated number of Harkis murdered. Harkis associations placed the number of killed at approximately 100,000-150,000.
France maintained close ties with Tunisia and Morocco, established close relations with the Arab League and offered itself as a voice to the Arab world in international affairs.
In 1975, France became the main Western ally of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq and provided two nuclear reactors, Tammuz I and II, to Iraq. They were described by Saddam Hussein as the first steps towards an “Arab atomic bomb.” France also endorsed a contract between the Institut Mérieux, based in Paris, and the Directorate of Veterinary Services of the Baghdad regime, which led to the creation of a “biological research laboratory.” It was the first organization to develop biological weapons in Iraq.
Despite UN sanctions, France illegally transferred weapons to Saddam Hussein’s regime until December 2002.
Military cooperation between France and Saddam Hussein lasted until the second Gulf War. Shortly before the U.S. invaded in March 2003, the Iraqi newspaper Babel called France’s President Jacques Chirac “the Great Fighter” (Al Mujahid al-Akbar).
From the start of the war, France was the main Western country opposing military operations and regime change in Iraq.
In 1978-1979, France played an important role in the overthrow of the Shah of Iran and helped facilitate the birth of the Islamic Republic of Iran. French authorities accommodated Khomeini when he was expelled from Iraq in 1978, and allowed him to send to Iran tapes calling for revolution and jihad against Israel. Khomeini returned to Tehran aboard an Air France plane chartered by the French government. Cooperation between France and the Islamic Republic of Iran lasted until Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in September 1980.
To please its new Arab friends, France decided to impose an arms embargo on Israel in June 1967, at the beginning of the Six Day War, at the moment when Israel faced mortal danger. The embargo later became permanent.
In 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, France refused landing rights to U.S. military supply planes flying to Israel.
In the early 1970s, France developed close ties with the PLO and became an ardent supporter of the “Palestinian cause.” France used its influence, just two years after the massacre of Israeli athletes in Munich, to have Yasser Arafat invited to speak before the United Nations General Assembly in November 1974. President François Mitterrand, in 1978, received Yasser Arafat on an official visit to Paris, and granted him all the honors reserved for a head of state. In 1979, France voiced its disagreement with the Camp David Accords because the PLO had not been involved in the talks. In 1982, France saved Arafat, who was besieged by the Israeli army in Beirut, and allowed him to seek asylum in Tunisia, a client state of France, to continue his incendiary activities.
France continued to support Arafat until his last moments and treated him in a French military hospital. When Arafat died, President Jacques Chirac held an official ceremony for him before sending the coffin to the Middle East in an official aircraft of the French Republic. French diplomatic circles never condemned terrorist attacks against Israel, but always condemned Israeli responses as “disproportionate.” French diplomatic circles never ceased to support the creation of a Palestinian state, in the “1967 borders” (in reality, 1949 armistice lines).
Prime French Role in Islamist Wave in the Middle East
Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, was defined several times by French ministers as a “possible interlocutor.” A French Cultural Institute exists in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. France intends to create a National Museum of Palestine in Ramallah, and French officials declared that the museum will open when a “free and sovereign Palestine” will be born. For now, the museum is housed in the Arab World Institute in Paris, the largest Arab and Muslim cultural center in a Western country.
Since the end of 2010, France has also contributed to the Islamist wave sweeping the Middle East, and played a major role in the toppling of the Gaddafi regime in Libya.
France had good relations with the Gaddafi regime when Muammar Gaddafi behaved as an enemy of the West. In April 1986, when an anti-American attack occurred in a discotheque in Berlin, the US decided to strike Libya. France refused overflight rights to the US military and pushed Spain and Portugal to make the same decision. Between 1992 and 2003, when the Gaddafi regime was subject to an embargo, France delivered weapons to Gaddafi and became its second arms supplier after Russia. In December 2007, Gaddafi was invited to France for an official visit: he signed contracts with Airbus Industries and Areva Nuclear Power. In 2011, the Emir of Qatar pushed President Nicolas Sarkozy to support an Islamic rebellion in Benghazi, and France also encouraged the United Kingdom, the United States and other NATO members to overthrow Gaddafi: the result was the takeover of the country by jihadists, who then plundered the military arsenals. Five years after that, Libyan territory is now a base for several jihadist groups, with the Islamic State holding a large part of Libyan coast, 200 miles from Europe.
Qatar, which funds Islamic terrorist groups, has long funded the Islamic State. Qatar has become a close friend of many French politicians; the French government has offered tax exemptions for Qatari investors who bought and are still buying assets and influence.
France – the Main Muslim Country in Europe
France’s “Arab policy” has gone hand-in-hand with a massive wave of Muslim immigration. France has quickly become the main Muslim country in Europe. More than six million Muslims live in France, making up approximately 10% of the population.
France’s “Arab policy” has also gone hand-in-hand with the establishment, in France, of multiple Islamic organizations. The main one is the French branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, known as the UOIF (Union of Islamic Organizations of France). The two primary training centers for imams in France — in Château Chinon and Saint Denis — belong to the UOIF, and are funded by the French government. The curriculum is defined by the UOIF. Many imams trained in these centers act and preach in French prisons and in the ever-growing 751 “no-go zones,” over which the French government has lost control.
The Muslim vote is now an important factor in French politicians’ decisions; the risk of Muslim riots is taken into account. The last prospect is certainly not lost on many Muslims who doubtless conclude that if threatening to riot works, keep on doing it.
French Artisans of ‘Euro-Arab Dialogue’
French President Georges Pompidou and his foreign minister, Michel Jobert, were the main artisans of the “Euro-Arab dialogue” that took shape after the Yom Kippur War in 1973. In a declaration to the press, Jobert clearly justified the Syrian-Egyptian attack against Israel and said that the aggressors had wanted to “set foot” in their “own land again.” Dialogue began with the Arab League. It continued with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC ; now renamed the Organization of Islamic Cooperation) – and never stopped. In June 2013, the OIC inaugurated a Permanent Mission Office to the EU in Brussels to “increase cooperation” with the EU.
The bitter result of decades of appeasement and opportunism could be described as fear. France’s questionable links with questionable regimes, organizations and causes; its acceptance of a largely unchecked Muslim immigration; and its growing inability to enforce its own laws on swathes of its territory have made it a warm, comfortable breeding ground for extremist Islam. The risk of further attacks is very real. France is intervening militarily in Syria most likely because many young French Muslims joined the Islamic State and chose jihad. Some of these French citizens came back to kill on French soil. France cannot destroy the Islamic State. France cannot prevent its own Islamization. France cannot prevent, in the chaos of Libya, the further growth of the Islamic State. France’s disregard of the threats faced by Israel is more than simple willful blindness. It is complicity.
For five decades, France was a partner in the crimes of some of the worst enemies of Israel. France today is one of the main enemies of Israel – maybe its main enemy – in the Western world. The day after the visit of Hassan Rouhani in Paris, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (who has since resigned) announced that France wanted to organize a major international conference to relaunch the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, based on an old Saudi peace plan, which includes – as a poison pill – the “right of return.”
Fabius added that if the French initiative failed, France would nevertheless recognize the Palestinian state. He probably knows that the conference will almost certainly not take place, and that even if it did, why should the Palestinians negotiate if a Palestinian state has already been promised to them? Presumably he just wanted to announce France’s upcoming official recognition of a Palestinian state.
On December 30, 2014, the French government backed a UN resolution demanding the “end of Israeli occupation” and the creation of a Palestinian state before December 2017. The resolution, however, did not receive enough votes in the UN Security Council. A US veto was not even necessary. France was not successful, but did not give up.
French and Palestinian lawmakers are working on another resolution that will be presented next fall. The resolution will be almost the same as the previous one. If it gets enough votes in the Security Council (9 out of 15), only a US veto could prevent it from being adopted. If the U.S. does not use its veto, Israel could be defined as a UN member state occupying another member state – despite obvious threats to its security on every front.
At a time when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas constantly encourages terror and hatred against Israel and when murders of Israeli Jews by Palestinian Arabs occur on a daily basis, France’s anti-Israel relentlessness can only be seen as the latest extension of France’s centuries-old anti-Semitism.
Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Hitler’s henchman during World War II, was detained by French soldiers in May 1945. He enjoyed the hospitality of the French government and was able to leave France for Egypt in 1946. On August 12, 1947, he wrote to the French foreign minister, Georges Bidault, to thank France for its help.
Charles de Gaulle, a few months after deciding to impose an arms embargo on Israel in June 1967, and with ironically little self-awareness, publicly described Jews as an “elite people, sure of themselves and domineering.”
Maurice Couve de Murville, head of French diplomacy from 1958-1968, was a financial expert who had been responsible for “the reduction of Jewish influence in the French economy” under the Vichy regime led by Marshal Petain from September 1940 to March 1943.
François Mitterrand, President of France from 1981 to 1995, worked for the Vichy regime from January 1942 to mid-1943. He was so dedicated to his work that he received the Francisque (the highest award granted by the regime) from the hands of Petain in April 1943. Mitterand remained a friend of René Bousquet, ex-secretary general to the Vichy regime police, until the day Bousquet was assassinated in 1993. Bousquet was one of the main organizers of the mass arrest of Jews in France.
In February 2015, after Prime Minister Manuel Valls uttered positive words about Israel, Roland Dumas, French Foreign Minister from 1984 to 1986 and from 1988 to 1993, accused Valls of being under “Jewish influence”.
In his 2006 book Betrayal: France, the Arabs, and the Jews, David Pryce-Jones explains in detail how France had obsessively dreamed of being a Muslim power for more than a century, and that French diplomacy has been imbued with a persistent anti-Semitism and hostility toward the Jewish state.
France did not become a Muslim power, but anti-Semitism still permeates diplomacy in France. French hostility toward the Jewish state is more present and malignant than ever.
Just this month, on February 3, a group of French ambassadors published a manifesto to “save the Palestinian State.” In the text, they justify the “knife intifada” in Israel, and denounce “50 years of military and police occupation by Israel,” Jewish “colonization” of Palestinian territories, the “shadow of the Holocaust” that “inhibits” Europe, and the supposedly “apartheid policy of Israel,” even though it is hard to see how a country that gives the Arab population under its control full freedom and rights, including political parties and seats on Israel’s Supreme Court, can be called “apartheid.” The French ministers also asked the Europe Union, at the behest of the Palestinian Authority, to stop any scientific and economic cooperation with Israel until the recognition of a Palestinian state. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs even described the text of manifesto as a “useful” contribution to the debate.
Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe. He is a Senior Fellow at The Gatestone Institute.