Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Vale to French PM Valls’ efforts to combat French antisemitism?

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This week's surprise visit to Australia by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls in the wake of his country winning a $50 billion contract to build our next generation of submarines is a sign that the Franco-Australian relationship is at a high watermark.

But sadly, the Franco-Israel relationship is well and truly waterlogged with Valls' government on April 16 voting for a disgraceful UNESCO resolution omitting any link between Judaism and its holiest sites in Jerusalem. The United States, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom voted against, and most other European states at least abstained.

The resolution declared the Temple Mount as strictly a Muslim holy site (Haram a-Sharif) and even stooped to the level of including the Western Wall as a Muslim holy site.

These positions are totally contradicted by archaeological evidence and history, with even Palestinian Arab texts from the 1920s and 1950s acknowledging the Temple Mount as the site of the Jewish King Solomon's Temple.

The resolution called on Israel:

to respect the integrity, authenticity and cultural heritage of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, as reflected in the historic status quo, as a Muslim Holy Site of worship and as an integral part of a World Cultural Heritage Site.

In backing this fiction, France has given its formal endorsement to the false Palestinian narrative that Israel is attempting to change the status quo regarding Jerusalem and the Temple Mount - a tactic which has been used to justify terrorism against Jews in Israel since the upswing in Palestinian violence in October 2015.

Equally disturbing is France's acceptance of the resolution's other canards that explicitly accuse Israel of fabricating Jewish history and facts, including that it:

Calls on Israel, the Occupying Power, to stop violations against the Waqf properties east and south of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, such as the recent confiscations of parts of Al-Youssefeyah cemetery and Al-Sawanah area by banning Muslims from burying their dead in some spaces and by planting Jewish fake graves in other spaces of the Muslim cemeteries, in addition to the dramatic change of the status and distinctive character of the Umayyad Palaces, in particular the violation of the continued conversion of many Islamic and Byzantine remains into the so-called Jewish ritual baths or into Jewish prayer places.

Needless to say, these claims about Jewish fabrications are themselves fabrications, as noted blogger Elder of Ziyon explains:

This lie has been around since 2012, when the Al Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage claimed that Israel planted thousands of fake graves around the Temple Mount.

In 2013 a Muslim cleric in Jerusalem claimed that the ancient Mount of Olives cemetery was fil[l]ed with fake Jewish graves.

In 2014 another Muslim committee claimed that Israel created a new cemetery also filled with fake graves.

The irony of course is that Muslims have been proven to be planting hundreds of fake graves for years.

As far as the rest of the resolution, those Umayyad palaces that are mentioned were discovered and are being preserved by those awful Jews. Yet they were built using plundered stones from Byzantine churches and even the second Jewish Temple.

No one is "converting" them into Jewish ritual baths - those had been there for a thousand years before the Umayyad palaces were built.

While this resolution generated scant media coverage here, being merely one more instance of the anti-Israel machinery chugging away at the UN, its passage raises serious question about Valls' publicly stated conviction to tackle the scourge of antisemitism following the massacre at the Hypercacher kosher supermarket in Paris in January 2015.

Back then, he rightly won praise for his forthright diagnosis of the problem in a passionate speech on Jan. 14, 2015, saying dramatically "We have not shown enough outrage" over the antisemitism in France. He also said that, "If 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France".

It had seemed a breakthrough. Finally a French government was publicly acknowledging what some previous French administrations had long denied that antisemitism is widespread and it is the main reason for the accelerating trend of Jews either contemplating leaving or actually leaving France.

In backing a completely one-sided resolution which was part of the Palestinian attempt to re-write history to exclude any legitimate connection whatsoever between Jews and the land of Israel, motivated solely and cynically by political manoeuvering to win points on the international stage, it is arguable that for all intents and purposes Valls has compromised his earlier positive statement.

France was essentially backing the antisemitic claim that all Jewish claims of a connection to the land - connections long woven into the fabric of Jewish prayer, religious tradition and ritual, and communal life for millenia - are cynical fabrications designed to steal land rightfully belonging to the Palestinians.

Moreover, with both Islamists and leftist sympathisers in France and beyond seeing no problem in violently targeting French Jews as acceptable substitutes for Israel, Valls seems to be tone deaf to the likelihood this anti-Jewish move will increase antisemitism in his country.

This potentially would act as one more push factor for Jews to emigrate, with many heading to the world's only Jewish state.

Regrettably this is only the latest example of France's long running campaign to meddle in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a destructive way apparently designed to court Arab opinion, rather than based on principle or a genuine effort to find the best way to a viable reconciliation.

In recent times it has spearheaded a campaign for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks with the added poison pill that if the talks conclude with no Palestinian state created, France will unilaterally recognise one anyway.

It boggles that mind that no one in Paris can see how this would inevitably embolden the Palestinian leadership to oppose the necessary compromises for peace, knowing that failure is its own reward.

Moreover, by repeatedly throwing Israel under the bus, and continually legitimising the absurd notion that Israel alone is responsible for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict enduring, it is also setting back attempts to arrest the growth of antisemitism in France.

But then as the French say, à chaque fou plaît sa marotte (Every fool is pleased with his own folly).

Allon Lee

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