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Francophile sad about French anti-semitism

Francophile sad about French anti-semitism

Old Mar 26th, 2003, 09:46 AM
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Francophile sad about French anti-semitism

Putting aside feelings about the French role in the war, I (who love Paris so much I brought my French-student daughter there last April as a Bat Mitzvah gift) have serious misgivings about future travel to France. Sickening stories about recent incidents of anti-Semitism (e.g. one in which a Jewish student was badly beaten by his peers, while teachers stood idly by, and where the perpetrators went unpunished by school officials, leading to the family's decision to leave the country) make me very sad about visiting France again, a country about which I admire much and where I have spent some wonderful vacations. I had even fantasized about retiring to Paris some day!Now I'm not sure I'll ever go there again. Anybody else wrestling with this?
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 09:55 AM
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No one would question the amount of anti-semitism in France, but are you sure thats why this boy was being roughed up? And the teachers stood by because he was jewish? I'm sure there is more to the story.<BR><BR>It sounds like you are able to put all the feelings aside of the french and the war. If you love the country that much, base your feelings on that.<BR><BR>
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 09:59 AM
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I agree that these sorts of stories are very disheartening. However, news of hate crimes here in the US against people perceived to be French, Iraqi, or whatever other group is currently being demonized are, for me, at least equally upsetting.<BR><BR>I refuse to blame an entire country for the ignorance of a minority of its citizens. I hope the same understanding will be extended to me when similar stories about my own country appear in the press.
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 10:07 AM
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While I'm sure anti-Semitism exists in France, it also exists in the U.S. (anyone ever heard of the KKK?) <BR><BR>A few years ago, a black man, James Byrd, was dragged to death behind a truck by two white men in Jasper, Texas. And, also a few years ago, a gay man, Matthew Shepherd, was beaten and left to die on fence near Laramie, Wyoming. Now, in both cases, the perpetrators were punished, but the point is that hatred can rear its ugly head anywhere in the world. <BR><BR>Now, the question is: should one hold everyone in France, or the U.S., responsible for this hatred and violence? <BR><BR>As a counterpoint to anti-Semitism in France, check out the documentary &quot;Weapons of the Spirit&quot; about a tiny Protestant farming village in the mountains of south-central France, Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, where, during the Nazi occupation, 5,000 Jews were taken in and sheltered by the villagers, most of whom were descendants of the Huguenots, first Protestants in Catholic France, who remembered their own history of persecution at the hands of Catholics.<BR><BR>http://www.chambon.org/weapons.htm
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 10:24 AM
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Here are links to a couple of recent stories of hate crimes apparently done in the name of anti-French furor, aka &quot;patriotism&quot; that have ocurred here in America:<BR><BR>http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&amp;u=/ap/20030321/ap_on_re_us/war_french_cleaners_4<BR><BR>http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&amp;u=/ap/20030317/ap_wo_en_ge/na_gen_us_vandalism_france_1<BR><BR>I fear we are in no position to make sweeping judgments, lest we be judged.
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 10:26 AM
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andib, I read the same story and was VERY disturbed by it. The teachers did not exactly stand by and watch the boy get beaten, but they did not help him when he broke away and ran to the teachers lounge for assistance. The school says it is just kids being kids, but the higher authorities have acknowledged that there is a problem --apparently stemming from Moslem kids whose parents immigrated from North Africa.<BR><BR>We will be spending a few weeks in France in May -- my first trip there in many years. I have preferred Italy for some years now, so I will be interested to see how I feel. Not that one necessarily experiences things like anti-Semitism as a tourist for a few weeks, but you never know how people will reveal themselves.
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 10:29 AM
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I think it would be quite naive to deny that a prejudice toward Jews exists in France!<BR><BR>US
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 11:02 AM
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Uncle Sam is right! (See, I don't always disagree with you!) While one can site examples of hate crimes all over the world, anti-Semitism is part and parcel of the French Catholic world and pervades the country to the top levels of government. In one of the terrorist bombings of a Jewish establishment several years ago, I believe it was the President who decried the bombing noting the number of Jews who were killed and also the number of innocent citizens. My brother lived in Paris 25 years, and he could tell you stories. In fact, in his apt bldg in Montmarte, two of the apts were still occupied by elderly couples who had gotten the units for free when their Jewish neighbors were turned in (by neighbors) to the Gestapo (and my brother always wondered if those people themselves had turned in their neighbors for the better units). My brother was denied jobs explicitly because he had a Jewish name - was told it wouldn't be good for business. He is now married to a French woman and has to put up with the prejudices of her family. (Needless to say, she is wonderful!) I could tell you more stories. Suffice it to say, anti-Semitism pervades everyday French life in a way almost unknown in America. I am not saying all French are anti-Semitic, mind you, or that they will treat an individual visiting Jewish person badly. Just that anti-Semitism is part of the culture. This has not stopped me from enjoying visits to France, however. Love that French cheese, among other things! I just wouldn't choose to live there.
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 11:02 AM
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You are absolutely right UncleSam, it would be naive, as it would be naive to not acknowledge anti semitism in the US. So, wherever you go try to promote tolerance and patience for all.
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 11:10 AM
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We sure are digging deep to trash the French nowadays. If a boy was beaten up in America would we be trashing ourselves?<BR><BR>Thousands of kids are beaten up every day in America. A tragedy. These kids are Jewish, Arab, gay, 'different'.... Why hasn't anyone start a post about those incidents? Maybe because we don't want to admit that we also have problems of our own to take responsibility for.
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 11:24 AM
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Wemr: Yes, I think plenty of people would be up in arms in the U.S. if a Muslim boy were badly beaten up by his peers and his teachers failed to provide adequate help. Also, I don't think anyone's trying to say that we don't have problems of our own, I just think the author of the post was asking whether anti-Semitism in France bothers anyone else to the extent that it's affecting their travel. I've been following the reports on anti-Semitism in France and it sure as heck bothers me. <BR><BR>And Lesli, physical brutality is on a totally different scale than mere vandalism.
 
Old Mar 26th, 2003, 12:15 PM
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Anti-semitism has been around for a long, long, time in France. This is nothing new and many of the France lovers here are downplaying the reality of it by looking through rose colored glasses. If you do a search of anti-semitism you can see things were bad long before Sept 11th. Many muslims are against Jews as well as the French. Unfortunately the Jewish seem to get it no matter where they go.
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 12:34 PM
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Capo's documentary is also in book form called &quot;Lest Innocent Blood Be Spilt&quot;. It is a wonderful story of courage.<BR><BR>Anti-semitism has been a problem in France. It traces back to the Dreyfus Affair and far earlier historically. Whether or not the incident you describe is isolated or symptommatic I can not tell.<BR><BR>The 1942 round up and deportation of 75,000 Jews in Paris was a travesty that scarred France forever. The Vichy regime was in some ways even worse than the Gestapo through the &quot;Millice&quot;, the special police force.<BR><BR>As a Christian, interested in modern French history,I am currently reading DeGaulle's memoirs. He speaks out against anti-semitism early in them. I have also read Robert Paxton's books; watched the film &quot;Sorrow and the Pity&quot;, etc. <BR><BR>It musst be said that there were many French heros such as Jean Moulin who gave their lives fighting the Nazis. In Provence many Jews were sheltered.<BR><BR>France issued an apology for what was done in WW II a few years ago. What it has not seemed to do is to squarely come to grips on how their country became such active collaborators with the Nazi horror. <BR><BR>One of the things that travel brings is curiosity on how the places visited evolved. One should never impute to today's French citizens the sins of Vichy. That would be a form of racism in itself.<BR><BR>Interesting posting.
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 01:00 PM
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The book is &quot;Lest Innocent Blood be Shed.&quot; The actions in that little Protestant town were in sharp contrast to the actions in other cities and towns across France. It is a great story about great people.
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 01:35 PM
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Thanks for the additional comments about that courageous story, Powell &amp; gocats. <BR><BR>As mentioned in my previous post, taken from the website I posted, note that most of these villagers were descendants of the Huguenots, the first Protestants in Catholic France, who remembered their own history of persecution at the hands of Catholics.<BR><BR>Anti-Semitism did not spontaneously arise out of thin air. One needs to look back into history at the not-uncommon Christian portrayal of Jews as &quot;Christ-killers&quot; as one possible clue to the existence of anti-Semitism. <BR><BR>And let's not forget the alleged &quot;betrayer&quot; of Jesus in Christian theology, Judas, and the part this portrayal has played in anti-Semitism. Here's an interesting piece in the L.A. Times entitled &quot;New Look at Ancient Betrayer&quot; by Larry Stammer, the Times' religion writer. <BR><BR>http://www.emayzine.com/lectures/judas.htm<BR><BR>Stammer writes: &quot;He is the exemplar of treachery, the shadow defined by Light. To this day his name--Judas Iscariot--remains a synonym for betrayal. But what if the traditional understanding of Judas is actually a distortion? What if he is actually a victim of a sort of theological libel--a 1st century bad press--that helped create two millenniums of Christian anti-Semitism?&quot; <BR><BR>and &quot;The story of Judas as a villain, some scholars suggest, played into the need to differentiate Christian from Jew. Indeed, by the end of the 4th century, St. Augustine, the most influential of the early Christian theologians, was teaching that St. Peter was the biblical exemplar for the church, while Judas, the betrayer, represented the Jews. The Judas story 'was exploited as anti-Jewish polemic in dramatic literature and art, depicting Judas with grossly exaggerated Semitic features and generalizing his love for money,' wrote the late Roman Catholic scholar Raymond Brown, whose two-volume study, 'The Death of the Messiah,' is considered to be among the most authoritative published.&quot;
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 02:09 PM
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My wife and I love France and had been planning our 4th trip there for this summer. However, we decided to indefinitely postpone the trip because of the rising incidents of anti-semitism. <BR><BR>We understand that this is probably attributable to Muslum hoodlums and not the majority of french citizens. However, we are sad to see the lack of response to this sad situation by the french government. They seem to just turn their heads when confronted and just give lip service to the problem.<BR><BR>This lack of concern for its jewish citizens seems to be a continuing problem going back to World War Two and the french government's complicity with the Nazis in the extermination of french jews. <BR><BR>Until recently, I thought french officials were confronting the issue but now it seems they would rather &quot;cowtow&quot; to their muslum population.<BR><BR>I don't lay this problem at the doorstep of the french people but do look to their leaders to do the right thing and have an appropriate response to these terrible actions.<BR><BR>
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 02:15 PM
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France is far from being the only country in Europe with an anti-semitic culture. The history of anti-semitism in Spain just as bad (maybe worse). And of course there is Austria, a country where anti-semitism continues to exist and thrive. If you use anti-semitism as a reason for not visiting a country, there will not be many places left for travel.
 
Old Mar 26th, 2003, 03:08 PM
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I, too, have always been a Francophile, thelanguage is romantic and melodic, the art is spectacular, and the people I have met there were just lovely. Paris is magnificent...but all of you know that. <BR><BR>I never met the nasty French that so many talk about. My daughter spent a semester in Paris and several summers in the Loire Valley with a French family, who we are all friends with until this day. My heart is very heavy over what is happening today.<BR><BR>Many of the above postings illustrate the depths of mans inhumanity to man. Many wars have been brutally fought in the name of religion and continue to be fought today. <BR><BR>And most of us can certainly understand (or try to understand) the reasonings behind prejudices. But, as strings says above, many of us on this forum look at France through rose colored glasses just as I have for a long, long time.<BR><BR>However, it is foolish to believe that European countries are always right in their beliefs and Americans are always wrong. Americans have the right to their opinions, their likes, dislikes, their culture, and if some of us choose to not go on vacation in certain countries and give our hard earned dollars to countries whose flags now fly alongside Iraq's, then that is their right.<BR><BR>If you are against anti-Semitism or anti-French or anti-German, then we equally should be against those who are anti-American as well...prejudice is prejudice.<BR><BR>But that's just my opinion.<BR><BR>
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 03:44 PM
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As JoyceL notes, France does not have the market on anti-Semitism in Europe. Nor is France just anti-Semitic. Some say they dislike the Moslems in their midst even more. France is just France for the French. <BR>Every nation has things it is not proud of. The US has its blasphemies, such as the annihilation of the Native Americans or the internment of the Japanese during WWII.<BR>France: I love seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up; I love the picturesque countryside and how France has managed to preserve its beauty; I love French food; I roar at French comedies. There is a wonderful aesthetic there....I know very kind and thoughtful French people. I don't agree with many French policies. Yet, hearing of &quot;freedom fries&quot; made me wince, though I'm sure the French would have been happy to have had them renamed, under other circumstances, as they can't stand the thought of such a greasy fast food with a French label. <BR>I don't like people to forget that we are all human. I think travel opens up the eyes of not just the traveler, but the people he or she meets and brings the world a little closer together. I would go to France tomorrow, were I to have the opportunity, and I would enjoy myself, I'm sure.<BR>And, PS, by happenstance, my family went through the center of an ugly Palestinian demonstration in London last year, but I was glad my kids got to see it. Our children need to know that there are people who have a passion about politics and to understand that they need to listen up.
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Old Mar 26th, 2003, 04:57 PM
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andib: As a diehard francophile I would not advocate staying away from France for any reason, but I can well appreciate your discomfort with the current French position. There are approximately 700,000 Jews in France, as compared with 6-7 million Arabs. That alone might give a Jewish person pause in considering a trip to France at this point in history. Much as I would like to think that France could overcome these statistics by affording ALL its people equal and fair treatment (libert&eacute;, &eacute;galit&eacute;, fraternit&eacute;, et al.), I think it is safe to say that in the current climate, it is more possible than ever that Jews and Jewish sites might be targeted for unpleasant or worse treatment. It is a sad commentary on the times, and while I understand what the French government is wrestling with in terms of a potentially angry and violent Arab population, it would be horrific at best if France were to succumb to anti-Semitism, or to support for it, for any reason, in light of its actions during WWII. I don't think France can afford to give any impression of anti-Semitism right now, but I'm afraid the French government may not be so aware of the potentially horrible implications of doing so. It is certainly something worthy of wrestling with and I can fully understand how you feel. It's for you to decide whether staying at home or going to France is the better alternative. Bonne chance.
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