France in a state of hysteria
Sharon was right in calling on French Jews to make aliyah, even if it angered Chirac
France's hysterical reaction to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's call for French Jews to immigrate to Israel sounds like it came from someone with a guilty conscience. It is usually a guilt complex or repressed hatred that produces such disproportionate responses. It seems that if France were not so steeped in antisemitism (with nearly half the world's antisemitic incidents occurring within its borders), Sharon's words would have simply floated by.
This wasn't the first time Sharon called on the world's Jews to make aliyah, and this is to his credit. He is also not the first prime minister to do so. So what's all the fuss? "Sharon's words are unacceptable", the French Foreign Ministry spokesman said, with the National Council Chairman adding the label "irresponsible". Another source said that "Sharon's remarks were exaggerated and he trespassed into France's internal affairs". A tempest in a teapot (or wine glass).
Leaders of the French Jewish community also took exception to Sharon's remarks, calling on him to "let the French community cope with its problems". In short, don't anger the Goyim [non-Jews]. It may be hard to explain to these Goyim, and it should be unnecessary to explain to the Jews of France, that Sharon's words were totally acceptable from the Israeli point of view, and that one of the main functions of Israeli prime ministers is to encourage aliyah. Bringing Diaspora Jews back to their homeland is one of this nation's goals, and Sharon was intervening not in the affairs of France, but in those of his own country.
A few more words, which should be obvious to the Jews of France. The State of Israel was established in the wake of the Holocaust, partly in order to insure that such horrors never again occur. It sees itself as responsible for the fate of all Jews in the world and as their defender in times of trouble. When Jews, as Jews, are in crisis or danger, Israel does not hesitate to intervene and rescue them, either openly or behind-the-scenes. This was the case in, among other places, the former Soviet Union, South Africa, Arab countries, and Cuba.
This will also be the case if you, heaven forbid, are in grave danger and unable to help yourselves. Today, it seems like a distant possibility, but you should not underestimate it. Jews in the past paid dearly for miscalculating such danger. Think twice, at lease, before telling Israel to keep its distance. Antisemitism is not your personal problem; it belongs to Israel and the entire Jewish People. So, immigrate to Israel. Sharon was right, even if he angered Chirac. There's no need to wait to the last minute, when the sword is resting at your throats. It may come down if you wait too long.
I know it isn't easy these days for Israel to make such statements. The situation is complicated and leads to outspoken criticism: Israel poses as the defender of Diapora Jews while it can't even defend its own citizens; only in Israel are Jews killed because they are Jews; Israel is the main source of antisemitism in this century; Israel, through its policies and actions, endangers us, the Jews of France, and it is Israel that wants to rescue us? It shouldn't be putting us in danger in the first place.
Not all of these arguments can be disregarded. But most of them are empty words spoken by people looking for excuses not to make aliyah. Israel is still a secure place for Jews, and it is the only place they can truly call home. The more Jews it absorbs, the stronger and safer it will be. And one day, when the Palestinian conflict is resolved, it will be the most secure place in the world, while antisemitism, in its various dangerous forms, will never come to an end.
Since its inception, Israel has absorbed waves of immigrants (with the exception of religious Jews) who were not attracted by some wondrous vision, but were repelled by negative forces in the Diaspora. The increasing evidence of antisemitism in France has not been forceful enough to push most French Jews into immigrating to Israel, and we must pray that these incidents are abated. Aliya figures from France since 2000 are pitifully low. According to Ministry of Absorption data, fewer than 8,000 of the 600,000 Jews of France immigrated to Israel in the last 4 Â½ years.
President Chirac has no cause for worry, and the antisemites have no reason to celebrate. Sharon's plea will not open the flood gates to French aliyah. Likewise, the Ministry of Absorption needn't become anxious, nor should it be making any special plans.
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Reader Talkback Comments
8. persona non grata
Hiram Abiff, Texas(2004-07-21 17:23:22.42 EST)
Pierre, the French, like the Germans of yesterday and today, see nationality and race before religion. The problem is the mentality of the French. The French, people such as Chirac, don't see the Jewish citizens of France as citizens. Chirac, like Hitler, was angered because he does see the Jewish people as an "internal problem." Can't the good, French citizens see the similarities of the 1930's and now.
7. Pierre, but...
Shai, Israel(2004-07-21 16:57:15.14 EST)
Pierre, I understand that France sees things differently, and just as when we do things that they feel differently about, they have no problem letting us know. So why can't we speak our minds about how France is handling the problem without censure in the same way that France does about our problems? Have we told French politicians not to bother coming after leading the UN vote against the security fence? No. We should be treated the same.
6. I Agree With This Article
Cynthia , California (2004-07-21 15:42:47.45 EST)
Ariel Sharon reminded the Jews of France they have options and having options gives people more confidence. There is no need for them to leave France but there is a need for attention to be focused on fighting antisemitism in a proactive, outspoken manner which appears very threatening to Mr. Chirac. I do not agree with Pierre #4. France has an internal problem but her inability to solve the problem has attracted worldwide attention and justified concern from others.
5. Yes, Sharon is right
Moshe , Raanana(2004-07-21 14:27:11.2 EST)
Soon rather than later France is going to become a Muslim latrine. The French Jews must decide quickly about their future. In Germany it took less than 10 years until the first German Jewish citizen end their lives in gas chambers.
4. Sharon out of his mind
Pierre, Paris(2004-07-21 12:48:04.513 EST)
It's not the call for "aliya" that angered France. It's the way that call was made. The way the french see religion is this one : whatever your religion is, you are french then whatever u like to worship. Religion is reserved for the private sphere, that s a personal choice, not something that classifies you. Sharon asked french people to move to israel because they were in trouble? none of his problem. purely internal.
3. The most descriminated against are the Jews
Abe , New York(2004-07-21 12:08:05.543 EST)
After Pogroms and Holocausts the world still discriminates against Jews. The French were the inventors of modern day anti-semitism. The Germans took it to unimaginable extremes. Now, with every action against Israel, Wheteher at the UN or the EU, they continue to work toward Jewish destruction. I don't know what's worse, the Arab states that sponser terrorism or these western democracies that perpetuate it. France is an Enemy to Israel and the US and we really need to start realizing this.
2. I hate France.
Shai, Israel(2004-07-21 10:42:40.797 EST)
Almost always have. They always vote against us in the UN, and I can never understand why our politicians always call them "friend". Nonsense. We should stop behaving like slaves and tell them what we mean. If it were up to me, Sharon would have reiterated his point more strongly when challenged rather than backpedaling. He should have called them out as the feckless, spineless, ivory tower snobs that they are.
1. President Chirac has no cause for worry, and the antisemites have no reason to celebrate
Hiram Abiff, Texas(2004-07-21 09:45:54.547 EST)
Chirac and anti-Semitism are spelled different but both have the same meaning. Chirac + Muslims= 50% of antisemitic incidents in the world. He and his army of antisemites are celebrating but the celebration will not take place until the European Union has taken control of all of Europe. The equation will then be: Chirac + E. U. + Muslims= 99.9% of antisemitic incidents. Today's events are a prelude of tomorrow.