Purchased by the city of Paris in 1997, the building called the La Maison des Métallos has functioned since 2007 as an official cultural centre (Établissement Culturel de la Ville de Paris), directly subsidised by the mayor’s office, which hosts all kinds of artistic activities – exhibitions, theatrical performances, films, etc. – especially “socially relevant” ones.   From the 8th December 2015 to the 17th January 2016 it made available its premises to a series of political/cultural events, “Focus Palestine” – as well as to a more permanent “art installation”/exhibition entitled “In Between Wars”.

The French section of Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) played a major rôle in organising both the propagandistic exhibition and the various multi-media activities – which used their multi-media resources to excuse, to romanticise and sometimes to glorify the actions of Palestinian Arabs involved in attacks and murders directed against Israeli citizen. It goes without saying that the scheduled activities promoted the extreme lies, distortions and false accusations which have become common currency in campaigns to vilify Israelis – as reflected in the programme notes and the MSF press kit.

It was because these very same lies and calumnies have been used, since the end of the 1990s, by very many of the perpetrators of violent crimes committed against French Jews to justify their behaviour, as well as because of the glorification of Palestinian terrorists, that CRIF, the main official representative body for French Jewry, tried without success to prevent these heavily politicised “cultural” events from benefiting from the use of a publicly funded cultural institution.   And all this occurred but a short time after Paris’s current mayor had signed up — on the 7th October 2015 — to an international AJC initiative “Mayors united against antisemitism” — declaring that: “The City has a responsibility to fight anti-Semitism, otherwise it will develop in the midst of it. … Paris, which is home to the biggest Jewish community of Europe, needs to be a pioneer in the fight against hate so that other cities can benefit from its expertise and commitment”.

The involvement of MSF in the above hate-fest has so far received limited coverage in English language media — one of the rare articles, “Analysis: Doctors Without Borders’ Anti-Israel Crusade”, being penned for Tower Magazine by Yona Schiffmiller, researcher for NGO-Monitor, which refers to the images of “martyrs”. (One wonders in passing whether a photo of Masab Bashir, a Gaza employee of MSF, who was able to have access to Israel in that capacity, would have been included among the pictures of other “martyrs”, if his plan in 2007 to assassinate Ehud Olmert and others had advanced further and he had been killed in the attempt.

According to its mission statement, “Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare. MSF offers assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation. Our actions are guided by medical ethics and the principles of neutrality and impartiality.” It is difficult to see how this neutrality is compatible with anti-Israel propaganda campaigns and material which claims, for example, in presenting the 20th December session, “Impossible neutrality … concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”: “The military operation conducted during summer 2014 was the most violent ever conducted by Israel in the Gaza strip. Israel could deliberately strike the Palestinian civilian population – men, women, hospitals, schools and even UN installations – without fearing the slightest sanction from the “international community.”

During this session actor Raven Ruëll, who, together with theatre director Jacques Delcuvellerie and Groupov, a performers’ collective founded by him, participated in a piece of “agitprop” in which the theme of supposed collective responsibility loomed large – a sense of responsibility which we should all feel when faced with something he tendentiously compared to apartheid and the genocide in Rwanda. Another actor, Jean-François Balmer, contemptibly evoked scenes from Auschwitz-Birkenau in connection with those of the exhibition’s very selective photos which showed the devastation and destroyed buildings in the zone of Israel’s carefully targeted military intervention – as reported by regular Causeur contributor Oudy Bloch in his article “Maison des Métallos: haro sur Jérusalem!” – published on 25th December.

The 9th January saw the screening of pseudo-documentary “5 Broken Cameras” – followed the next day by a screening of the dishonestly selective documentary “The Gatekeepers”. The latter film was followed by a debate featuring Élie Barnavi, a former Israeli ambassador to France who was one of the founders of J-Call (officially launched in the European parliament on the 3rd May 2010), which has often been described as a European equivalent of J-Street. It will be recalled that Barnavi was very active in promoting support in France for parliamentary motions calling for the diplomatic initiatives aimed at forcing Israel to withdraw to the 1949 armistice lines, coupled with the unconditional recognition of a state called Palestine – his lobbying in France taking place just after the 2014 summer of massive violence and intimidation directed against this country’s Jewish citizens.

The Director of Studies and former president of MSF (1982-1994), Rony Brauman (also contactable at hcri@manchester.ac.uk), participated on the 13th December in a session entitled “What prospects for Palestine before the International Criminal Court?”   Living in Israel till the age of five, Brauman has said that it was relatively late in his career that he “saw the light” about the supposed perniciousness of Zionism and Israel and he has for several years now regularly associated himself with other “As-a-Jews” in attacking Israelis. He is now facing a libel action for falsely accusing French parliamentarian and staunch defender of Israel Meyer Habib of booing Latifa Ibn Ziaten – a woman for whom in fact he has great respect – for wearing a veil in the chamber of the Assemblée Nationale – and thus implicitly of being a racist who is prejudiced against Moslems. This occurred in the course of an interview broadcast on 17th January on Europe 1, during which Brauman also said that Jews wearing a kippa in public were doing it for political reasons and to display their allegiance to Israel. He claimed that there were anti-Jewish crimes being committed in France, but there were French Jewish institutions like CRIF which are, supposedly, “above all representatives of Israel” and representatives of that state’s policy, “a particularly harmful policy – dangerous, racist, a policy of occupation”.

Médecins sans Frontières should not escape being held accountable for its involvement in organising the recent Paris hate-fest. In this connection it may be quite useful for the following questions to be addressed to Mego Terzian, current director of the French section (office@paris.msf.org or donateurs@paris.msf.org) — perhaps also (why not?) — to the director of the US branch (info@doctorswithoutborders.org). (These questions also appeared in an article which JForum.fr was good enough to publish and to which it added analyses which usefully draw upon French official documents to reveal that MSF receives a substantial amount of money from both private and official sources in the United Arab Emirates.)

  1. Your organisation includes the Palestinian territories among the regions where your volunteers are active – who try to “relieve the psychological suffering of adults and children confronted with the violence of a long intensity conflict”.  Why do you not include within the areas of your operations Israel and in particular places like Sderot and other localities in Southern Israel which have many inhabitants faced with similar problems?
  2. Are the Israeli doctors who participate as volunteer in relief operations in countries experiencing natural disasters not as worthy of respect as volunteers from other countries?
  3. Do you believe that Israel’s existence is legitimate and that its citizens have the right to live in security?