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25,000 Demonstrate Peacefully for Gaza in Paris.

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Picture from L’Humanité.

Pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets of Paris once more on Wednesday to march against Israel’s military assault on the Gaza Strip, the first authorised demonstration since a July 13 rally ended in clashes.

There had been fears of further violence ahead of the march, particularly after ugly scenes at two banned demonstrations over the weekend that saw protesters hurl rocks at police, who responded with volleys of teargas.

More than 1,000 undercover and uniformed officers were deployed along the march route, carrying riot gear and teargas in case trouble broke out.

But the march passed largely without incident, as the protesters made their way from southern Paris towards Invalides in the centre of the capital.

Police said around 14,500 people attended the rally, while organisers put the figure at 25,000.

France 24.

There were hundreds of CGT stewards (‘service d’ordre’) present to prevent  trouble and any expression of anti-Semitic views.

Libération reported this comment,

A l’avant du cortège, des jeunes crient «Israël assassin, Hollande complice». Un membre de l’Association France-Palestine solidarité (AFPS), appelle à la mesure :«Nous sommes tous des enfants de Gaza. On ne doit pas instrumentaliser la cause palestinienne pour propager l’antisémitisme. On se bat contre une politique agressive. Pas contre un peuple tout entier.»

At the head of the march youths shouted, “Israel – Murderer, Hollande – Henchman”. A member of the Association for France-Palestinian Solidarity called for moderation, “we are the children of Gaza. We must not use the Palestinian cause to spread anti-Semitism. We are fighting against aggressive policies. Not against a whole people.”

The march was organised by the “ Collectif National pour une Paix Juste et Durable entre Israéliens et Palestiniens.”

This group demands:

Pour l’arrêt immédiat des bombardements sur Gaza – an Immediate end to the bombardment of Gaza.

- Pour l’arrêt de l’agression israélienne en Cisjordanie et à Jérusalem For an end to the Israel aggression in the West Bank  and in Jerusalem

- Pour la levée du blocus, illégal et criminel, de Gaza Lifting the illegal and criminal blockade of Gaza.

- Pour des sanctions immédiates contre Israël jusqu’au respect du droit international For immediate sanctions against Israel until it respects international law.

- Pour le soutien au peuple palestinien et au gouvernement d’entente nationale. Back the Palestinian people and for a national unity government.

La cause palestinienne n’a rien à voir avec l’extrême droite et n’accepte aucun soutien de leur part – the Palestinian cause has nothing to do with the far-right, and (we) will accept no support from that quarter.

Left groups, le NPA, le PCF, le Front de gauche, the Ligue des droits de l’homme, and the ‘altermondialiste’ Attac, backed the march. (1)

A decision whether to permit a planned demonstration on Saturday – organised by the same people who led the Barbès march marked by violent incidents the previous weekend – has yet to be reached (Libération).

 

(1) Full List: Agir Contre le Colonialisme Aujourd’hui (ACCA) – Alliance for Freedom and Dignity (AFD) – Alternative Libertaire (AL) – Américains contre la guerre (AAW) – Association des Travailleurs Maghrébins de France (ATMF) – Association des Tunisiens en France (ATF) – Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS) – Association Nationale des Elus Communistes et Républicains (ANECR) – Association pour la Taxation des Transactions financières et pour l’Action Citoyenne (ATTAC) – Association pour les Jumelages entre les camps de réfugiés Palestiniens et les villes Françaises (AJPF) – Association Républicaine des Anciens Combattants (ARAC) – Association Universitaire pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (AURDIP) – Campagne Civile Internationale pour la Protection du Peuple Palestinien (CCIPPP) – Cedetim / IPAM – Collectif des Musulmans de France (CMF) – Collectif Faty Koumba – Collectif interuniversitaire pour la coopération avec les Universités Palestiniennes (CICUP) – Collectif Judéo-Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine (CJACP) – Comité de Vigilance pour une Paix Réelle au Proche-Orient (CVPR PO) – Comité Justice et Paix en Palestine et au Proche-Orient du 5e arrt (CJPP5) Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT) – Confédération paysanne – Droit-Solidarité – Ensemble – Europe Ecologie les Verts (EELV) – Fédération des Tunisiens pour une Citoyenneté des deux Rives (FTCR) – Fédération Syndicale Unitaire (FSU) – Gauche Unitaire (GU) – Génération Palestine – La Courneuve-Palestine – le Mouvement de la Paix – les Alternatifs – les Femmes en noir – Ligue des Droits de l’Homme (LDH) – Ligue Internationale des Femmes pour la Paix et la Liberté, section française de la Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) (LIFPL) – Mouvement contre le Racisme et pour l’Amitié entre les Peuples (MRAP) – Mouvement Jeunes Communistes de France (MJCF) – Organisation de Femmes Egalité – Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA)) – Parti Communiste Français (PCF) – Parti de Gauche (PG) – Participation et Spiritualité Musulmanes (PSM) – Une Autre Voix Juive (UAVJ) – Union des Travailleurs Immigrés Tunisiens (UTIT) – Union Générale des Etudiants de Palestine (GUPS-France) – Union Nationale des Etudiants de France (UNEF) – Union syndicale Solidaires

France: Pro-Palestinian Protests and anti-Semitism at Sarcelles, Defending the Right to Demonstrate.

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Defying  the Ban on pro-Palestinian marches in France, on Saturday,

About 6,000 mostly peaceful protesters assembled in the Barbès area of northern Paris in defiance of a government ban. When the march was blocked by police lines after only 500 metres, a minority of young protesters started to hurl stones, bottles and sticks at the riot police.

There is a range of accounts of the responsibility for the incidents that took place, see L’Humanité, and Libération and an important direct reportage in the same paper, here.

A leader of the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA) said, “«La solidarité avec les Palestiniens doit pouvoir s’exprimer à Paris», a expliqué samedi à l’AFP Sandra Demarcq, membre de la direction du NPA, qui juge l’interdiction «illégitime et scandaleuse». We should be able to express solidarity with the Palestinians, explained to AFP Sandra Demarq, part of the leadership of the NPA, who judged the ban “illegitimate and scandalous”. According to the reporter at around 15.40,

Soudain, des groupes extrêmement équipés et organisés ont commencé à fendre la foule pour monter au contact des CRS. Ils avançaient en ligne, le visage couvert. A l’évidence, ils n’avaient rien de militants venus défendre la cause palestinienne. Certains arboraient des tee-shirts du virage Auteuil, une tribune du Parc des Princes.

Suddenly, extremely well organised and kitted out groups pushed their way through the crowd towards the front row of the CRS (riot police).

They advanced en bloc, faces covered. From what could be gleaned they had nothing of the look of activists who’d come to defend the Palestinian cause. Some of them were wearing the colours of Auteuil, a supporters’ group named after a football stand at the Parc des Princes.

In Sarcelles on Sunday however  events took a clearly and illegitimate  anti-Semitic  turn,

France’s interior minister on Monday slammed “intolerable” acts of anti-Semitism after a rally against Israel’s Gaza offensive descended into violence pitting an angry pro-Palestinian crowd against local Jewish businesses.

Sunday’s demonstration in the north Paris suburb of Sarcelles was the third to deteriorate in a week, as shops were looted and riot police lobbed tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd.

The rally had been banned amid concern the Jewish community would be targeted after protesters last weekend tried to storm two synagogues in Paris.

“When you head for the synagogue, when you burn a corner shop because it is Jewish-owned, you are committing an anti-Semitic act,”Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters outside the Sarcelles synagogue.

In the Paris suburb sometimes nicknamed “little Jerusalem” for its large community of Sephardic Jews, the rally descended into chaos when dozens of youth – some masked – set fire to bins and lit firecrackers and smoke bombs.

Eighteen people were arrested after looters wrecked shops, including a kosher foodstore and a funeral home as protesters shouted: “Fuck Israel!”.

News 24.

The Independent says,

Riot police held back a mob of youths who tried to attacks two synagogues in the town of Sarcelles in the northern Paris suburbs.

A pro-Gaza demonstration in a town with a large Jewish population began peacefully but degenerated into attacks on Jewish and Chaldean businesses and four hours of running battles between youths and police. Several cars were burned. Three shops, including a Kosher grocery (1), were burned and pillaged. A railway station was severely damaged.

The interior minister, Bernard Cazeneve said today: “When you menace synagogues and when you burn a grocery because it is  Jewish-owned, you are committing anti-semitic acts…  That is intolerable. Protest against Israel is legitimate. Nothing can justify such violence.”

…..

Roger Cuikerman, head of the French umbrella groups of Jewish organisations, CRIF, said there was a growing anxiety amongst French jews.

Protest against Israeli government actions was one thing, he said. Attacks on Jews for being Jews were “deeply disturbing”. “They are not screaming ‘death to the Israelis’ on the streets of Paris,” he said. “They are screaming ‘death to the Jews’. They are attacking synagogues which are places of prayer.”

Bernard Cazeneuve, speaking at Sarcelles this morning, said (Le Monde),

Devant la presse, il a estimé qu’il était « légitime » de pouvoir exprimer une position sur les événements de Gaza, où au moins 502 Palestiniens ont été tuésdepuis le 8 juillet. En revanche, il a jugé « intolérable que l’on s’en prenne à des synagogues ou à des commerces parce qu’ils sont tenus par des juifs. Rien ne peut justifier de telles violence ». Dix-huit personnes ont été interpellées après les heurts, selon la police.

In front of the press he considered that it was “legitimate” to be able to express a position on the events in Gaza, where at least 502 Palestinians have been killed since the 8th of July. By contrast he judged that it is “intolerable that people attack synagogues and businesses because they are run by Jews. Nothing can justify such violence.” According to the police 18 people have been asserted after the incidents.

(1) The shop had been already the subject of a grenade attack in September 2013 (see here).

In an important Editorial today Le Monde says that the government’s ban on demonstrations is an admission of its impotence, “Manifestations interdites : l’aveu d’impuissance du gouvernement.”

The statement  notes that President Hollande is right to be concerned about the “importation” of the Israel-Palestinian conflict into France.

But they note that the right to demonstrate, within reasonable limits, is part of the foundations of the Republic.

They cite the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man, “ nul ne doit être inquiété pour ses opinions, même religieuses, pourvu que leur manifestation ne trouble pas l’ordre public établi par la loi ». 

Article 10, “No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.”

Le Monde then accuses the government, through its ban on demonstrations of solidarity with the Palestinians, of playing, “aux pompiers pyromanes.” (firefighting arsonists, figurative, “fig., personne qui provoque volontairement les maux qu’elle est censée combattre.”, somebody who creates the very problem they claim to be solving).

“Toute manifestation doit être déclarée à la Préfecture de police, en indiquant, au moins trois jours avant, sa date, son heure et son parcours. En d’autres termes, le droit de manifester fait partie des libertés publiques, mais il est légitimement encadré.”

Every demonstration, its timings, and its route,  must be notified to the Police authorities, at least 3 days in advance. In other respects the right to demonstrate, within defined limits, is part of our public freedoms.

Le Monde is absolutely right.

Positions of left parties:

Parti de Gauche “L’interdiction de la manifestation de soutien à la population de Gaza contre l’agression décidée par le gouvernement israélien était bien une provocation et une manipulation.” NPA, “La solidarité avec les Palestiniens est légitime et n’a rien à voir avec de l’antisémitisme !” Front de Gauche, “”Amplifier la solidarité avec le peuple palestinien, défendre le droit de manifester”.

Update: Declaration today (Monday 12st July) against ban on demonstrations by the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme, GAZA CROULE SOUS LES BOMBES, ISRAËL S’ENFERRE DANS LA RÉPRESSION, LES INTERDICTIONS DE MANIFESTER DU GOUVERNEMENT FRANÇAIS ATTISENT LES TENSIONS

Demonstration  on Wednesday now  authorised, Le Monde. 

Alain Finkielkraut, France’s Peter Hitchins, elected to Académie française.

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Alain Finkielkraut a été élu à l'Académie française. Entre amour passionnel de la langue et de la littérature et une pensée qui s'est radicalisée, retour avec Jean Birnbaum du « Monde des livres » sur cette entrée polémique.

New Low for Académie française.

I suppose any institution claiming to represent the heights of French culture that includes  former French President and mediocrity Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (still, amazingly, alive, though it’s often hard to tell)  lacks, shall we say, all credibility.

But the election of Alain Finkielkraut to the “immortals” has introduced a new low.

Finkielkraut occupys the same place in French philosophy and culture, as, say, Peter Hitchins.

He began with some, middlebrow, writings in the tradition of Emmanuel Levinas. He celebrated Jewish culture and sometimes offered penetrating insights into post-Shoah Jewish identity. Some may admire his stand on the break up of Yugoslavia, where he was beside himself against Serbia. Fewer, perhaps,  would have admired  his close friendship with Croat leader, and Holocaust denier, Franjo Tuđman.

In recent years Finkielkraut has been distinguished by a relentless hatred of anything he believes threatens French identity.

If anybody wants to distinguish left-republican secularism from what Finkielkraut’s critics call his « républicano-communautariste » it is easy to do.

He explicitly attacks multiculturalism  from the right, offering only a tale of woe and decline faced with immigration and métissage (Mixing, cultural and ethnic). As one can imagine he has had the courage of those going with the grain of conservative prejudice to oppose “political correctness” – a term as wide as it is vacuous.

By contrast Jean-Luc Mélenchon has explicitly defended” ” métissage” as the basis for a new class unifying republican socialist  left.

Over the last year Finkielkraut has become even more obsessed – were it possible – with “l’identité française”.

He complains that France is an “auberge espagnole” (a pejorative term, in this context,  for a mixture of people living together)  in which the ethnically true French dare not speak out. (L’Identité malheureuse, d’Alain Finkielkraut. 2013)

Despite the occasional exalted language Finkielkraut resembles a Peter Hitchins, or a French version of Nigel Farage.

It is with no surprise that we learn that his election to the Académie française met opposition. The columnist scraped in with 16 votes out of the 28 members of the august body.

The ‘anti-Dieudonné’ Comedian Nicolas Bedos.

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Bedos

Bedos: the Anti-Dieudonné.

The French Comedian Nicolas has been satirising Dieudonné .

He appeared in one-man show with a Hitler moustache in a parody of the racist bigot.

Nicolas has stated that his intention is to “Not leave Dieudonné with the monopoly of subversion, and  to remember that we can be provocative on the most sensitive issues without being oneself plagued by racism, misogyny, homophobia, etc.”

“For the most part, the pro-Dieudonné fans  are fragile, culturally and intellectually, socially vulnerable and shocked by the fate of Palestinians, hence the fantasy of some sort of Israeli-Jewish-American political-media-financial conspiracy: Dieudonné continues to feed this frenzy.”

Why embody a character in Arabic accent?

I mostly played simply a complete tosser. I knew very well in writing the sketch that people would see some housing estate  scum. But I play somebody who is above all a cretin, rather than because he is an Arab (slang rebeu).

We have to stop the hypocrisy: you only have to look at the public for the  shows Dieudo puts on to see that  a large majority are young people of immigrant origin, wounded by their situation, contempt for society, and indifference  to  Palestinian suffering.

I understand their anger, but I absolutely hate to see Dieudonné and Soral taking advantage of their plight for their own  narcissistic and financial reasons.”

Bedos  is opposed to a public ban on the anti-Semite’s shows.

“We have to fight against the tendency to legislate on artistic matters.

Dieudonné  is no longer an artist, he is a proselyte for the extreme right. But we should not forbid him from performing, that in itself expands and solidifies  his audience.

Dieudonné’s public only dreams of being stifled and muzzled, and this keeps them together.

If we talk about banning, why not ban  Marine Le Pen and the Front National”

(Adapted from Le Monde.)

In the past Bedos has also been in trouble because he criticised Israeli policies, attacked Sarkozy (« VRP cocaïné ») and has been fined for insulting the Police – amongst other controversies. 

Now he has received death threats.

For this.

Those anti-Semites don’t like it up ‘em!

Written by Andrew Coates

January 22, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Hannah Arendt. A Review.

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f1/Hannah_Arendt_Film_Poster.jpg

Hannah Arendt. A Review.

Hannah Arendt is one of the twentieth century’s “greatest political philosophers.” The response of the Editor of the New Yorker to a colleague who queries sending her to report on the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 signposts the difficulties underlying Margarethe von Trotta’s film. How can thought be put on the screen?

Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963), that assembled the resulting magazine pieces, is the hinge of the film. She famously doubted the right of Israel to judge one of the central actors in the Endlösung. Arendt made an appeal for a different, International, Tribunal to judge crimes against Humanity.

But there was more than this. The political thinker evoked her understanding of the history of the Shoah and asserted that, “recognised Jewish leaders” had, “almost without exception, cooperated with the Nazis”. An uproar followed the articles.

Hannah Arendt is, like Trotta’s Rosa Luxembourg (1996), an intimist film. Hannah, played by Barbara Sukowa – who also Rosa – teaches in University, and lives with the former Sparticist and anti-Stalinist Henreich Blücher. Close friends, including Mary McCarthy (Janet McTeer), who will come to her defence, surround them. Politics passes the threshold of their New York flat into heated discussions at get-togethers, not through active political engagement.

Windows into other worlds open during the trial itself, and the ferocious reaction from Arendt’s colleagues to her opinions on the “role of the Jewish leaders in the destruction of their own people.” Saying that she “blamed the victims” left loose a flood of charges against her. When the Eichmann controversy is at its height Hannah receives threatening letters, and a note from a “nice old gentlemen” on another floor in her apartment block, calling her a “Nazihure” (Nazi whore). Dramatically perhaps the most telling moment is when an old friend breaks with her, dismissing Arendt as arrogant and typically “intellectual”.

Hannah’s attachment to Heidegger – from a youthful affair, her enduring acquaintance, to her dismissal of his “silly” pro-Nazi proclamations – is introduced through flashbacks. This might remind the audience of the controversies that followed Victor Farais’ Heidegger et le Nazisme (1987) and Hugo Otto’s Martin Heidegger. A Political Life. (1994). In the film Arendt’s enemies are keen to remind people of this association with the Rekor-Führer who spoke of Hitler as the “German reality, present and future, and its law”.

Intense movements, sharp exchanges, and coherent arguments, mean that Hannah Arendt is a dramatic success. The cast displays depth and warmth. But the film leaves many yawning political and philosophical gaps. That is, we have to read what she said, not only hear parts of her work. Cinema can only go so far.

From the Film to the Politics.

Eichmann in Jerusalem remains the object of passionate dispute. Perhaps too many people have heard of the “banality of evil”. But behind it lies Arendt’s complicated, and structurally unfinished work on the “moral collapse the Nazis caused in respectable European society”, and the “elementary structure” of totalitarianism. Her writings touch upon the 19th century birth of Imperialism, Militarism (influenced by, amongst other, the ideas of Rosa Luxemburg), and Mass Society, as well as Nazism and Stalinism.

Arendt’s views on Eichmann’s role in the Nazi bureaucratic extermination machine might be considered in terms not just of these “criminal organisations”. That,is, he was not merely guilty because his bastardised ‘Kantian’ defence, that he was acting according to a ‘universal’ moral law, failed to accept Kant’s rule that we should treat other people as ends in themselves, not means. It was not only this flaw, psychological or not, that was the problem. As Mary McCarthy said, “calling someone a monster does not made more guilty; it makes him so by classing him with beasts and devils”. The problem is deeper. One response may be to say that many political ideologies can permit killing, but German National Socialism made material a language in which mass murder was a must.

On the surface that is on the arguments of Eichmann Arendt is open to a number of serious charges. In her defence Arendt stepped back a little, (1964), “until 1939 and even until 1941, whatever Jewish functionaries did or did not do is understandable and excusable. Only later does it become highly problematical.” This looks very weak. Michael Ezra has shown that she was simply wrong to sweep together the ‘Jewish authorities’ into one bloc. (The Eichmann Polemics: Hannah Arendt and Her Critics). Citing Jacob Robinson he says,

Arendt had attempted to substantiate her claim that Jews would have been better off without leadership by asserting that in Belgium there was no Jewish Council and ‘it is not surprising that not a single Jew was ever deported.’ Robinson showed that in Belgium there was a Jewish Council and Jews were deported. Moreover, in Russia, Jews not governed by a Jewish Council were slaughtered even faster than in Poland where there were Jewish Councils. In France, Yugoslavia, Greece and other countries where there were no Jewish Councils, the Nazis still managed to carry out the ‘Final Solution’ effectively. Arendt had claimed, in her letter to Scholem, that Jewish Council members could ask to be relieved of their duties ‘and nothing happened to them.’ The reality, according to a non-Jewish witness of the Cracow ghetto, was that ‘To resign [from the Jewish Council] was equivalent to signing one’s own death sentence.

Arendt was critical of the procedures of the Israeli Court, the absence of a real space for defence, of the Israel Court, the absence of a space for real defence. She doubted the right of the Jewish People to indite Eichmann. The whole political spectrum of Zionist thought would quickly recall her doubts about the constitutional basis for their Country (she had been a qualified believer in a federation with a new state for the Arab population). Her call for an International Tribunal on Crimes Against Humanity has a greater echo today – when there is a United Nations War Crimes Court. In this she followed her enduring friend, Karl Jaspers, who stated that a verdict on Eichmann could be “handed down only by a court of justice representing all mankind”. Whether this answered Arendt’s own belief that full human rights had to come attached to states is not clear, and not all states belong to this Court.

In her later books on political theory (On Revolution 1965, the posthumous Life of the Mind 1978, amongst others), Hannah Arendt defended the idea of the freedom of the political realm. This she contrasted with the politics of interest dominated by “labour” by the “social question” by (even) “compassion”. – a world for Marx dominated by necessity, or for humdrum liberalism, by deal-making. The twentieth century saw mobs turn into totalitarian political parties, run by conspirators who held truth in contempt, and tried to rub out all these differences.

We can, she believed, escape this fate. Within its proper boundaries politics may be marked by, “joy and the gratification that arise out of being in company with our peers, out of acting together and appearing in public, out of inserting ourselves into the world by word and deed, this acquiring and sustaining our personal identity and beginning something entirely new.” (1)

Arendt asserted this liberty of the ancients to write about the trial of Eichmann.

She discovered, though never recognised, that the company of her peers was not always joyful, that not everybody was prepared to act together with her, and that sustaining her personal identity isolated her from whatever crooked – but living – form politics took in her time.

(1) Page 574 The Portable Hannah Arendt Edited by Peter Baeher. Penguin 2003

This review relies heavily on Young-Bruehl, Elisabeth, Hannah Arendt: For Love of the World 2nd Edition. 2004.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 11, 2013 at 12:20 pm