Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Friday 5 December 2014

Festering France: From "Juiverie!" to "Israël Assassin!"

The savage torture-murder of a young Jewish man ... the Toulouse atrocity ... Jews threatened and assaulted  ... Jewish buildings damaged ... Jewish graves defaced ... a Jewish-owned restaurant full of diners torched ... the list goes on and on.  And in recent days there's been yet another spate of despicable attacks on Jews in France, including a home invasion, robbery and rape, in which the victims were told that they were being targeted because they are Jewish, and a brass-knuckled blow to the face that almost blinded a kippa-wearing Jewish boy in one eye.

To quote Professor Phyllis Chesler:
The changing face of France: BDSers in Bordeaux
'In the last 11 years, more and more Jews have left Europe because of Europe's appeasement of its hostile Muslim population by sacrificing 'the Jew,' Israel, continuing their own Jew-hatred, and supporting the … false history that Palestinians have always been a people. That is a complete fantasy; the Jews have been there longer than any other group.
The Palestinian pseudo-history is now virulently active all across Europe, on American campuses and to a large extent in much of our media. The fact that much of the Middle East is Judenrein is not being defined as ethnic cleansing or as religious apartheid — and the Palestinian demand for the Jews to get out of Judea and Samaria is also not being described as ethnic cleansing, which it is....
 [A]s to the allegation of "disproportionate force "that has been leveled against Israel—those who allege this refuse to understand that there are 22 Arab states and one Jewish state and that this is disproportionate. The Arab League and the international community have been funding the weapons and the propaganda against Israel—so many countries against one country is a display of disproportionate force. It has already legalized Jew-hatred at the UN — and that is disproportionate. It is also disproportionate to have European countries symbolically recognize Palestinians, which is meant to further isolate the only Jewish state in the world. That is disproportionate....
Anti-Semitism is no longer viewed as racism but as politically correct. It's said that if only Israel were abolished, there would be no poverty or illiteracy in the Muslim world and paradise would come. The only state on earth that is said to be quintessentially evil is Israel. … I think Israelis have every right to criticize their government and to change it if they wish. But when the rest of the world criticizes one nation only, we must look at it as Jew-hatred.'
Earlier this year, mindful that it is the centenary of the start of the First World War, The Spectator carried a most interesting article by Christopher Booker, who pointed out that the seeds of the vision of a federated Europe idea lay not, as usually supposed, in a reaction to the horror and slaughter of the Second World War and a determination to prevent such a conflict from happening again, but rather to the earlier global conflagration.
What, not in French? Parisian students tout their message
Booker relates the fascinating story of the collaboration between British civil servant Arthur Salter, and Frenchman Jean Monnet (later to be dubbed "The Father of Europe") in  pushing the European idea.

He tells us:
"In 1919 these two men became senior officials in the new League of Nations: Monnet was deputy secretary general, Salter in charge of German reparations. They were inspired by the way they and their colleagues were expected to forget national loyalties in working for a higher international cause. But as the 1920s progressed, they again became frustrated by what they, like so many, saw as the League’s central flaw. Every nation had a veto — an expression, as Monnet saw it, of that ‘national egoism’ which had caused the war and might yet bring about another.
Useful idiots and those mendacious maps in a town near Lille
By the decade’s end, when the League, without the USA, had become largely a European concern, Salter had developed their ideas in a new direction. He proposed in a book published in 1931, The United States of Europe, that the League’s four core institutions — its ruling secretariat, a council of ministers, a parliamentary assembly and a court of justice — should be turned into a ‘government of Europe’, run though its secretariat by technocrats like himself, above all national loyalties. This body must be given ‘supranational’ powers, eliminating national vetoes. And the first step towards this new government should be to set up a ‘customs union’, providing it with so much revenue from tariffs that it would reduce national governments ‘to the status of municipal assemblies’.
Scarcely had Salter outlined his grand design, intended to avert another European war, than Hitler’s rise to power made it irrelevant. But in 1939 Salter and Monnet were reunited in London. Monnet had now become a very effective behind-the-scenes political operator — it was he who, just before the fall of France in 1940, talked Churchill into that quixotic proposal for a political union between France and Britain — and he used the succession of influential positions he held through the war to push their idea to men such as Paul-Henri Spaak, Belgium’s prime minister in exile. In Algiers, in 1943, he put it to Harold Macmillan that the first step towards a ‘federal Europe’ should be a ‘supranational’ authority to run the industries key to waging war, steel and coal.' ...."
In 1950 Monnet suggested to French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman that a European Coal and Steel Community should be set up.  He headed it from its establishment in 1952 until 1955, when he resigned in order to pursue, with another convinced European federalist, the Belgian statesman Paul-Henri Spaak,  the setting up of a Common Market, the echo of Salter's suggestion of a "customs union" as a prelude to European integration.

One of the supporting players in the idea of a federated Europe (that idea born in idealism that is proving so toxic nowadays) was the man who succeeded Monnet as head of the European Coal and Steel Community (1955-58),  René Mayer (1895-1972), a distinguished French Jew.

The following item from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), dateline Paris, 17 December 1972,  contains curious errors, highlighted by me in bold font.  It reads:
"Rene [i.e. René] Mayer, who died here Wednesday night [13 December] at the age of 77, was one of the three French Jews who had served as their country’s Prime Ministers. The others were Leon Blum and Pierre Mendes-France. Though the grandson of Chief Rabbi Michel Mayer of Paris, Mr. Mayer showed little interest in Jewish affairs [emphasis added]. For a time he served as a member of the Paris Jewish Consistory Committee and was a vice-president of the Alliance Israelite Universelle but took no active part in the work of these two organizations.
Born of a non-Jewish mother [emphasis added], the former Marthe Dupont, he entered politics during the occupation of France when General de Gaulle appointed him Minister of Transport and Naval Affairs in the Algiers Free French Government. In the post-war period, he served as Minister of Finance (1947), Defense (1948), and Justice (1949). Appointed Prime Minister Jan. 8, 1953, his government only lasted four months. After this, he devoted himself mainly to European affairs and his business career in which he was closely associated with the Rothschild bank and its president, Baron Guy de Rothschild."
These errors are regrettable, since the JTA has some pretensions to serve as a kind of chronicle of record of Jewish affairs over the years.  For, as the potted biography of Mayer that appears on the Virtual Jewish Library website, taken from the Encyclopaedia Judaica and written by Shulamith Catane says (emphasis mine):
"Mayer played an active part in Jewish affairs and was a member of the Central Consistoire of French Jews. He was a member of the executive of the *Alliance Israélite Universelle and, after 1946, its vice president."
(There is a detailed potted biography of him here).

Versus "Juiverie" just 80 years after Emancipation
René Joël Simon Mayer was born in Paris on 4 May 1895, some months after the start of the Dreyfus Affair.  His parents, pillars of what antisemites termed la haute juiverie, were religiously observant businessman Justin (Jacob) Mayer, who died in 1897, and his wife Marthe.  Justin Mayer's father Michel, from a family with roots in Alsace, was indeed le Grand Rabbin de Paris, dying at the age of 82 when René was 10 or 11.  It seems reasonable to assume that the rabbi had an input into the Jewish education and consciousness of his fatherless grandson, who remained faithful to Judaism all his life, married within the faith, and  who no matter how busy with affairs of state invariably attended synagogue on the High Holydays.  Roger Peyrefitte, who refers to him several times in the controversial novel Les Juifs, takes pains to note his attachment to Judaism.

Far from being "non-Jewish" as the JTA states, René's mother Marthe was as Jewish as her husband.  Her wealthy father Paul Dupont was, perhaps, related to Olry Dupont (1789-1855), from Metz, a jeweller and leader of the Ashkenazi community in Paris. Olry's father was "Samuel Cahen dit Dupont." I remember reading a jibe by a French antisemite, almost certainly Edouard Drumont, founder of the notorious La Libre Parole, regarding Jews who changed their surnames: "He can change his name to Dupont," the phrase I recall went, but he'll never be a genuine Frenchman (or words to that effect).

Educated at the elite Lycée Carnot in Paris and then at the University of Paris, where he qualified in law, Mayer  was appointed to the staffI of the Conseil d'Etat in 1919, rising to become Maître des Requêtes. From 1922-32 he lectured at the Ecole Libre des Sciences Politiques, one of France's "grands écoles" for the training of top civil servants and diplomats. He was also associated with companies owned by his relatives the French Rothschilds, who, as Baron Guy de Rothschild recalled in his memoir, regarded Mayer's abilities very highly.

In June 1940, when France fell, Mayer was in London heading a French armaments mission, and was asked by General de Gaulle, who was also in the English capital, to join a fledgling government-in-exile.

As the general relates in his memoirs, Mayer refused, explaining:
"I must return to France, in order not to separate my fate from that of the people of my religion, who are going to be persecuted there."
"A dirty tolerated alien" (see text)
He returned to Paris, and far from taking "no active part" in its work as the JTA obituary averred, participated with other members of the Consistoire in overtures to the Nazi occupiers with regard to French Jewry: a French-language work by the prolific scholar Zosa Szajkowski  utilising original documents throws light on this topic.

In September 1940, being a Jew, Mayer was forced by the Vichy government's new regulations to relinquish posts he held with the Chemins de Fer du Nord and Air France.  He moved to Montpellier, where he passed much of his time reading in the university library.  With his son Antoine he eventually crossed the Pyrenees by train into Spain, from where they embarked for Algeria.

Antoine became a paratrooper with the Free French, while Mayer joined the Algiers-based French Committee of National Liberation under Generals de Gaulle and Giraud, serving as national commissioner for communications and merchant navy.  Subsequently he was appointed minister for transport and public works.  He was one of the French public figures who accompanied de Gaulle in the famous walk down the Champs Elysées in August 1944  following the liberation of Paris.  From 1945-53 Mayor was mayor of Giverny, the Normandy village (made famous in paintings by Monet) where he had a rural residence.

In Nazi-occupied Paris, 1942
He had become a member of the National Assembly in 1943 as a Radical Party member, representing Constantine in Algeria.  The term Radical is misleading: he was a pro-American pro-big business conservative who as deputy for Constantine in Algeria represented the interests of the colons and resolutely opposed Algerian independence.  During his political career Mayer held successively the posts of minister of justice, minister of finance and economic affairs, minister of defence, and prime minister (January to March 1953, during which period he, as devoted to the Atlantic alliance as he was to European integration, made an official visit to Washington (copyright newsreel footage here), where he was honoured by President Eisenhower with the Medal of Freedom.). The Fourth Republic, of course, was characterised by unstable, "revolving door" ministries, and there is copyright soundless newsreel footage of him at the beginning of his brief period as prime minister here and at its end  here.

In 1955 he clashed spectacularly in the chamber with then prime minister Pierre Mendes-France, a fellow member of the Radical Party, over the future of Algeria: the spectacle of these two prominent Jews, the one a plutocrat with a taste for fine wines and the other an avowed milk-drinker of modester means albeit of supposedly more august (because Sephardi) background, verbally jousting with each other to, as it were, the death on the issue then riveting France seized the imagination of Roger Peyrefitte, who alludes to it in his novel,  and it is described memorably by that fine observer of the French political scene, Alexander Werth, in one of his books, Mayer being described a s "pompous and well-groomed as usual".

During the First World War, having had to put his law studies on hold, Mayer was an artillery lieutenant and was cited for bravery.  During the Second  World War his only son, Antoine, had been killed in action.  Nevertheless, the Communists in and outside the National Assembly proving that the Right had no monopoly on antisemitism, subjected Mayer to despicable taunts such as "dirty tolerated alien".  At one point, he began legal proceedings against a leftist publication.

In 1964 he was injured and hospitalised when the express train to Switzerland on which he was travelling collided with a car at a level crossing.

He died at his Paris home on 13 December 1972,having been in ill-health for three years. 

A fine pianist with a deep love of music, Mayer was known to to whistle classical pieces while he worked, but the persona he presented to the world was aloof and with an intimidating air of hauteur.  His attitude to his Jewishness reflected that of the patrician Jews of his time and place: he was a Frenchman whose religion happened to be Judaism, and he was not a political Zionist.  Unlike Jews of Eastern European background, he steadfastly opposed any manifestation of Jewish particularism, as, for instance, and to them could seem harsh and perverse in his outlook; but he reflected the mindset of those who had set in motion the granting to the Jews of France civic equality with the rest of the citizenry: "We must refuse everything to the Jews as a nation and accord everything to Jews as individuals," as the Comte Clermont-Tonnerre put it in 1789.

Following the establishment of the State of Israel, when the political Zionism they had so strenuously disdained and opposed  had become a fait accompli, many patrician Western Jews like Mayer altered their previous stance and grew attached to Israel and took pride in its achievements.  Whether Mayer underwent such a transformation of opinion I'm unable to say.  It's just possible, I suppose, that the selection of his papers edited by his widow Denise (Bloch), published in 1983 throws a shaft of light on this topic of Mayer's attitude to Israel.

I also don't know whether he resumed his directorship of Air France  after the Second World War, but, if he did, it's tempting to wonder whether he had a hand in commissioning the rather striking series of posters featuring Israel that were issued by Air France in the post-war years.

It's sobering to consider that when he was born France was experiencing antisemitism fanned by the clericalist right, and that, scarcely a century later, France is experiencing a far more widespread and dangerous antisemitism fanned by an imported culture.

Montpellier, 29 November 2014
French people, famously, seldom emigrate, but now we are seeing the emigration of French Jewry in droves.

Where will it all end?  What does the future hold for this great community?

I think it's important to remember the illustrious Jews who have done so much for France.

That's why I made this foray into recent French history, regarding an illusturious French Jew of the twentieth century who is not, unlike, say, Leon Blum or Pierre Mendes-France, particularly well-known.

Just above, at the left, is a photo of Montpellier, so different today from what it was when Mayer had sojourned there prior to fleeing to Spain and Algiers.

Yes, the ferals are everywhere, it seems, and Israel-hatred (studded by "Israël assassin!" and other war cries) sounds no prettier in French than it does in English.

 Abominable scenes in Carpentras in October where an Israeli film festival is disrupted:

You don't have to speak French to get the gist of what is happening here, when the Israeli Consul General in Montpellier arrived to address the local Chamber of Commerce:

And a round-up:



  1. Replies
    1. Yes, very good!
      Re boycotts, an interesting piece here:


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