Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste; I’ve been around for a long, long year, stole many a man’s soul and faith; And I was ’round when Jesus Christ had his moment of doubt and pain; Made damn sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed his fate. Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name; But what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game … So if you meet me, have some courtesy, some sympathy and some taste; Use all your well-learned politesse, or I’ll lay your soul to waste …
—Rolling Stones. Beggars Banquet, 1968
The platitudes and eulogies in Europe have passed and another four Jews were buried. As horrific as the killing spree at Charlie Hebdo was, it could be said that the Hebdo staff had done something that depraved Islamists considered provocative. What act of provocation had the Jews committed? Shopping for a challah for Shabbat? Then again, I can understand how that might be provocative. But let’s be honest – Europe’s mourning is momentary. It’s like throwing a pebble into a pond and watching the ripples. One European country after another threatens to recognize a virtual “Palestinian state” on land European governments themselves had approved for the reestablishment of the national homeland of the Jewish people. As part of the League of Nations Mandate, these same European powers voted unanimously, 51 to zero, at the San Remo conference in 1922, for a Jewish homeland in all of Palestine. That was, and still stands as international law. And don’t blame it all on the new Islamic immigrants. It’s the good old Europe of the last 1800 years again ascending.
What was Europe’s excuse for Jewish expulsions in 1066 England, 1382 France, 1492 Spain, 1497 Portugal, the Germany of the 1340s, the Austria of the 1420s, and the resurgent anti-Jewish Germany, Austria and Vichy France in the 1930s and 1940s? Can’t blame the Islamists – Weren’t there. Just Europeans doing what they do so well.
Today, the leftist intelligentsia and the right-wing fascists of Europe share a common frustration: hatred of that which represents Jews – the State of Israel. The Islamic terrorists in Europe’s midst are in some ways just a convenient front for Britain’s, Belgium’s, Spain’s, Norway’s and France’s dirty work. And once again, my old friend Ben Hecht said it best, in his Guide for the Bedevilled:
In the history of the Jew it takes one to make an auto-da-fé and two to make a wedding. [The Jew’s] delusion that he is German, Polish, French, Spanish, or Italian, his readiness to write their tongues, increase their cultures and die for their peculiar national ambitions, have nothing to do with his ultimate status as citizens of these lands. His deeds, however valiant and talented in behalf of foster lands, are fineries quickly stripped from him. Loaded with medals and diplomas, he is sent packing into ghettos, exile or death, and if he is not a Jew in the eyes of God or the rabbis, he is always one in good standing in the eyes of misfortune. (p. 48)
Now don’t get me wrong. Islamic terrorists picking off Jews by the threes and fours is no happy matter. But let’s not forget that after the murder of the four Jews in a Paris supermarket, it was the President of France who had the audacity to tell the Prime Minister of Israel, Bibi Netanyahu, that he was not welcome in France to pay his respects to dead Jews. That, for me, was a bigger story. And although Jews being slaughtered in Europe is an old story, the French President’s words once again reveal his disdain not just for Jews but the State of the Jews — Israel. Which brought to mind that endearing blurp from a former Vichy French ambassador to Britain, Daniel Bernard, who let his true Gallic feelings out while a bit tipsy at a dinner party: Calling Israel (not in Arabic but in perfect English) “a shitty little country,” he asked, “Why should the world be in danger of World War III because of those people?” Some things just don’t change! Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!
Tom Gross of the National Review noted back in 2002 that “instead of unreservedly condemning Bernard for his racist slur, … many in the British and French media instead sought to make [Barbara Amiel, the hostess of the party] and ‘those people’ the target for daring to expose and criticize the ambassador’s prejudices. The important lesson for us now is that anti-Semitism in France and England have been allowed to grow… among many of the ruling elites and opinion-forming classes in Paris and London.” I think he meant classless.
Gross continues with another, lesser known story of the Vichy France variety that happened a short time later. Marc (Marc with a “c” usually connotes a Jewish name) Gentilli (probably a proud convert), the president of the French Red Cross, “described as ‘disgusting’ a request by the American Red Cross that Israel be admitted to the International Red Cross, and that the Star of David be accepted alongside its existing emblems, the Cross and the Crescent. Gentilli…left little doubt of the disdain he holds for the Star of David…” By the way, Gentilli is not Islamic.
Unwilling to let the French have all the fun, the British press wanted in on the act. London Observer columnist Richard Ingrams, in a piece titled “Black’s Hole” (Black is a reference to Amiel’s married name) writes, “The gaffe wasn’t made by the ambassador, but by Amiel for betraying the confidences of the dinner table and writing such an intemperate article.”
Not to be left at the altar, Guardian columnist Joan Smith, in “Dinner at Amiel’s Leaves a Bad Taste,” opines that [Amiel’s] “assumption that Bernard’s remark was anti-Semitic, is pretty dubious. … If there is a lesson to be learned from this episode, it is not the French ambassador’s politics that have been called into question on this occasion, but his taste in friends.” You just gotta love those Brits. There’s no shame left in England these days, as they get in line for their burqas.
Gross presciently concludes, “Since Bernard’s remarks were reported, there have been over a dozen fresh anti-Semitic incidents in France. Only last weekend attackers firebombed a synagogue in the northern Park suburb of Goussainvil. A few days before that, gasoline bombs were hurled into a Jewish school in the southeastern Paris suburb of Creteil, setting a classroom on fire. On the same day another synagogue was torched. Have the French and English learned nothing from the twentieth century?” In 2002, that’s rhetorical.
We as Jews are commanded to never forget, and for good reason. Delivering a jolt of history is a poignant old movie so powerful that it ought to be required viewing on every Holocaust Remembrance Day:
Your Honor. It is my duty to defend Ernst Janning. And yet, Ernst Janning has said he is guilty. There’s no doubt, he feels his guilt. He made a great error in going along with the Nazi movement…. Ernst Janning said, “We succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.” Why did we succeed, Your Honor? What about the rest of the world? Did it not read his intentions in Mein Kampf, published in every corner of the world? Where’s the responsibility of the Soviet Union, who signed in 1939 the pact with Hitler, enabled him to make war? Are we now to find Russia guilty? Where’s the responsibility of the Vatican, who signed in 1933 the Concordat with Hitler, giving him his first tremendous prestige? Are we now to find the Vatican guilty? Where’s the responsibility of the world leader, Winston Churchill, who said in an open letter to the London Times in 1938 – 1938, Your Honor: “Were England to suffer national disaster, I should pray to God to send a man of the strength of mind and will of an Adolf Hitler!” Are we now to find Winston Churchill guilty? Where is the responsibility of those American industrialists, who helped Hitler to rebuild his armaments and profited by that rebuilding? Are we now to find the American industrialists guilty? …No, Germany alone is not guilty. The whole world is as responsible for Hitler’s Germany. It is easy to condemn the German people, to speak of the “basic flaw” in the German character that allowed Hitler to rise to power – and at the same time positively ignore the “basic flaw” of character that made the Russians sign pacts with him, Winston Churchill praise him, American industrialists profit by him! Ernst Janning said he is guilty. If he is, Ernst Janning’s guilt is the world’s guilt. No more and no less. — Hans Rolfe, defense attorney.
“Judgment at Nuremberg” is as relevant today as it was in 1961, maybe more so.
And it was journalist Israel Harel who wrote in Ha’aretz in 1995 – just two short years after Oslo, but 20 years before Charlie Hebdo:
The denial of Israel’s right to exist as the state of the Jewish people has become the stuff of legitimate discourse in all cultural salons and prestigious talk shows in Europe. … Never, since the days of the Nazis, has anti-Semitism reared its head the way it is doing today. … And all this has happened since the signing of the Oslo agreements…”
Yet “Pinky” the Opinionator wallows in those worthless French platitudes called eulogies. President Hollande went on national television and called the kosher supermarket massacre “a dreadful anti-Semitic act.” (I guess telling Netanyahu to stay home was just normal French etiquette, and Obama calling it “folks killed at a deli” was a Manny’s Deli moment.) France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls added, “France will no longer be France if Jews leave the country. The soul [?] of the French republic would be at risk if there were a mass exodus of Jews. … We will be a failure.” Mon Dieu! Whom will France feed to its Muslim barbarians if there are no Jews? How splendid to leave the French and the Muslims to live together in a Utopian welfare state! “Pinky” quotes Segolene Royal, the third most important figure in the French government: “Anti-Semitism has no place in France.” Golly gee… Do you really believe… Click those heels, “Pinky.” From his “kishkes” he writes: “Altogether, we are talking about 11 dead Jews” (three teenage yeshiva students, four rabbis at the Har Nof synagogue and four in the kosher supermarket). If 11 are not enough to get your “kishkes” in a knot, just wait – more are on the way.
I know that “Pinky” and others are gushing at the fact that European leaders are denouncing antiSemitism, even as the words “Islamic terrorism” get stuck in some politically correct throats, in quixotic pursuit of that “moderate Muslim.” But as one European capital after another supports a “virtual” Palestinian state for a mythological Palestinian people, those adherents are not Muslims! They’re just good, old-fashioned, “white man’s-burdened,” lapsed-Christian Europeans. “But what’s puzzling you– the nature of their game?” Islamists may be pulling the trigger—or wielding the knife—but remember that the soil of Europe has already been saturated with Jewish blood. Our Jewish people have seen this European movie before and we know how it ends. First they come for the French Jews, then the Belgian Jews, then the British Jews … Are you liberal-leftist peace-aholics listening?
Shabbat Shalom, 03/13/15 Jack “Yehoshua” Berger