October 29, 2004

BIRDS OF A FEATHER

Arafat Arrives in Paris for Emergency Treatment: Ailing Palestinian Leader Rushed to Military Hospital (Glenn Frankel, Washington Post, 10/29/04)

Ailing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat arrived here by air Friday afternoon and was immediately rushed to a French military hospital for emergency medical treatment.
I suppose an Israeli military strike is just too much to hope for.

Posted by David Cohen at October 29, 2004 1:51 PM
Comments

Two observations:

1. In terms of quality of life, is there any practical difference between "dead" and "in Paris?"

2. Weasels take care of their own.

Posted by: Mike Morley at October 29, 2004 2:17 PM

A strike on Gaza or on Paris?

Posted by: John J. Coupal at October 29, 2004 2:39 PM

Paris.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 29, 2004 2:42 PM

Mike,

Paris is the best city in the world to live in.

I wish it weren't so.

Posted by: Eugene S. at October 29, 2004 3:18 PM

I heard that it actually is a nice place, except it's full of Parisians.

Posted by: Mike Morley at October 29, 2004 3:34 PM

Eugene:

Are you sure you don't mean the best city in the world to visit? It can be hell to live in.

Posted by: Peter B at October 29, 2004 3:42 PM

Eugene: not if you are a Jew.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 29, 2004 4:01 PM

More to the point. His "wife" has won. She and her conspirators, whoever they maybe, will make sure he never leaves the hospital. But first they need to get all of the accounts under control.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 29, 2004 4:03 PM

She and her conspirators, whoever they maybe, will make sure he never leaves the hospital. But first they need to get all of the accounts under control.

Just like "Poodle" Miscavage did with "Elron" Hubbard...

Posted by: Ken at October 29, 2004 4:27 PM

Robert Schwartz,

not if you are a Jew... and wear a yarmulke outside of Le Marais.

That's why I wrote, I wish it weren't so.

Posted by: Eugene S. at October 29, 2004 4:41 PM

It is more than mere observance that creates issues. It is appearance and accent, even the concept of 'behaving like a Jew' to which the French react badly.

I lived in France for three years of my life, one year of high school, one year in college and one year professionally, so I feel in a position to render an informed opinion about living as a Jew in France. Most of that time I was in Alsace but I spent the better part of a summer in Cannes.

The French are not racists in the German sense, they do not see one's characteristics as immutably formed by nature. A Jew can become French, in a way he cannot become German. My family and I, in typically Alsatian Jewish fashion appear Rhenish not Semitic, have Germanic surnames and French first names, not Hebrew ones, don't keep kosher, don't dress in a religiously inspired fashion, and speak French with a regional not ethnic accent. Being Jewish never stopped my great-uncle from being mayor of town in Alsace for 40 years, being a Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, or having Giscard sleep over at his home. There are no educational, occupational, or housing restrictions and France has in fact had 4 Jewish prime ministers, Blum, Meyer, Mendes-France and Fabius. Had Jospin been elected to the Presidency, there would have been a 5th, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. In Alsace, when I was in lycee, accomodation was made for my religious instruction by the local rabbi in the same way that Protestant and Catholic children received instruction. I've experienced far worse on the Jersey Shore than I've ever seen in France from French people.

There is no love for the Arabs in France. One night I did a pub crawl in Paris with some off-duty French cops and they feel about Arabs roughly the same way a Mississippi State Trooper circa 1958 felt about Blacks. The Arabs have the oil and the French are all about the Benjamins or in their case the Pasteurs. Israel gets in the way. It's just that simple.

There is as I said before a distinct hatred for 'foreign Jews.' During Vichy, Petain was able to get national support to round up 'foreign Jews' i.e Jews born outside of France, but had little support for rounding up French Jews other than from the zealots like Vallat and Darquier de Pellepoix. The wife of Petain's Prime Minister, Laval, was a Jew, from a 'Portugais' family. I've seen this in action. Once I was in a Paris restaurant with some friends who weren't Jewish and a group of Mizrahim came in. They spoke French badly, dressed loudly and comported themselves in a very un-French manner. During the meal, I had to go to the WC and our waiter made several jokes to me about how badly 'those Jews' behave. His attitude towards me was that I was one of the French and would laugh at the same things he would.

The French are also cowardly. All the fight went out of them at Verdun and the Somme. They have had an ugly demographic since Napoleon, a low birth rate. In 1800 there were 40 million Frenchmen. Today there are fewer than 60 million. You do the math. They seem to feel if they can accomodate or ignore the Jihadniks that they will go away. They should change the national symbol from the Rooster to the Ostrich.

Two years ago, I went to Alsace for my cousin's wedding. It would have been at the main synagogue in Strasbourg, except the Muslims bombed it, rendering it unuseable. We had to rent a hotel and hire guards. I'm going to another wedding there at the end of November. BTW, since the re-election of Chirac, I've taken to referring to my relatives as 'the Finzi-Continis.' The combination of French cravenness in the face of Arab petrodollars and cowardice in the face of Arab violence makes being a Jew in France a tenuous situation.

I apologize if my writing appears confused because I am truly conflicted about what has happened and what is happening. The basic decency of most French I've met and the policy of their government, which does reflect French opinion, confuses me.

Posted by: Bart at October 29, 2004 7:36 PM

So is it something about the institutes the French elite study at that warps them?

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at October 30, 2004 4:32 AM

Ali,

I think the grandes ecoles are a symptom and not a cause.

There are several factors at play. First, France is a feudal society. There is tremendous deference to one's betters and a lack of social mobility. This is not enforced by law but by custom. If your father was a lawyer, you become a lawyer. If he was a bricklayer, you become a bricklayer. Nothing has changed since the time of Diocletian. What this creates is a tremendous amount of resentment of one's status and an envy of anyone better off. Very often this animus is focused on outsider groups. As an example, in slang French, if I did something for you and you are very appreciative and want to do something for me, I might say,' Think nothing of it, I don't keep Armenian accounts.'

Another factor is the elites in France always screwed the average guy. OJ will undoubtedly regale us on how wonderful life was under the Bourbons, but the people made Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette a head shorter for very good reason. The Committee on Public Safety was worse, and Napoleon killed off the cream of France in his wars. To this day, corruption scandals do not upset the French, it's expected. Think of Louisiana. The Church was no better, as a major landowner and exploiter. There is a sense that if someone has money in France he got it by exploiting others, not by doing something of general value. Their word, provocateur, to describe the kind of free-wheeling capitalism that America thrives on, is used as a pejorative.

The French have an underlying fear of the 'Anglo-Saxons' that goes back to Agincourt and before. America is perceived as the new England, and as France's rival.

Finally, from nursery school onwards the French are taught an exceptionalism that is remarkable even by the standards of someone who went through Hebrew School and took it seriously. They believe firmly in French gloire, which is more than mere glory but has to do with the primacy of French culture, thought, everything about being French. You should keep in mind from which language we got the word 'chauvinism.'

Posted by: Bart at October 30, 2004 6:51 AM

Bart,

Very interesting and thought-provoking comments.

In your opinion, what is in store for the community in France? Bearing in mind all of the issues you mentioned including the growth of the Muslim population/ French fear re this issue, disdain for foreigners in their midst etc as well as the recent comments of a gov official ("that shitty little country"), Chiraq's head butting with Sharon, loggerheads over Iraq and the EU's possible surge of geopolitical strength vis a vis the US.

Cheers and regards.

David

Posted by: David at November 26, 2004 1:02 AM

Bart,

Very interesting and thought-provoking comments.

In your opinion, what is in store for the community in France? Bearing in mind all of the issues you mentioned including the growth of the Muslim population/ French fear re this issue, disdain for foreigners in their midst etc as well as the recent comments of a gov official ("that shitty little country"), Chiraq's head butting with Sharon, loggerheads over Iraq and the EU's possible surge of geopolitical strength vis a vis the US.

Cheers and regards.

David

Posted by: David at November 26, 2004 1:02 AM
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