Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

On the Anti-Semitism of Certain Gilets Jaunes against Alain Finkielkraut.

with 3 comments

Unity Against Anti-Semitism.

Yellow-vest protests: Macron condemns anti-Semitic abuse


French President Emmanuel Macron has condemned anti-Semitic abuse directed at a prominent intellectual by a group of “yellow vest” protesters in Paris.

Police stepped in to protect the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut after he was bombarded with insults and anti-Jewish taunts in the French capital.

President Macron said it was an “absolute negation” of what made France great and would not be tolerated.

Tens of thousands took part in anti-government protests on Saturday.

Prosecutors have now opened an investigation into the incident, and France’s interior minister said on Sunday that a suspect alleged to be the “main perpetrator” had been identified by the authorities.

It is significant that the French Communist Party was one of the first to react:

Ian Brossat, chief French Communist Party candidate for the European Parliament, said “We can hate Finkielkraut’s ideas”, but “nothing can justify attacking him as a Jew”.

The Local.

The anti-Semitic insults hurled at Alain Finkielkraut by certain Gilets Jaunes in Paris on Saturday continue to make waves in France.

This was on Europe 1 this morning.

Bernard-Henri Lévy : “On est dans un moment qui me fait penser à l’époque de l’affaire Dreyfus”

BHL’s scattergun polemics will leave many people cold.

But in some respects he is completely to the point.

In le Monde Diplomatique this month Serge Halimi & Pierre Rimbert defend the Gilet Jaunes as a manifestation of class war.

They cite an episode from the history of French socialism. In the debate, known widely as the “Two methods” held in the Hippodrome of Lille in 1900, Jules Guesde defended the sectarian ‘class against class’ against those socialists who had defended Dreyfus and no backed a government to ‘defend the republic’ against the far-right ‘reactionary’ threat

In Lille in 1900, the socialist leader Jules Guesde had already seen through this political game to which the capitalist class owed its longevity in power: ‘It is divided into progressive bourgeoisie and republican bourgeoisie, clerical bourgeoisie and free-thinking bourgeoisie, in such a way that a defeated faction can always be replaced in power by another faction from the same class, which is also [our] enemy. It’s a ship with watertight partitions which can take in water on one side without being any less unsinkable.’ But sometimes the sea gets rough and the vessel’s stability is threatened. In such a situation, squabbles need to be set aside to present a united front and keep it afloat.

The authors do not cite Guesde’s opponent, Jean Jaurès.

The exchange hinged on the participation of a socialist, Millerand, in the bourgeois (republican) government of René Waldeck-Rousseau. For  Jaurès defending Millerand was a matter of being against Nationalism and Reaction (“contre le nationalisme, contre la réaction”).

The disagreement,as mentioned, went back to Dreyfus.

Guesde refused to back the Jewish victim of anti-semitism on the grounds that the affair was “un conflit interne à la bourgeoisie “(an internal squabble within the bourgeoisie).

Comrade Jaurès replied to these arguments by asserting that the human rights at stake with the injustice against Dreyfus were a matter for socialists.

There are two parts to capitalist and bourgeois legality: There are a whole mass of laws aimed at protecting the fundamental iniquity of our society, and there are laws that consecrate the privileges of capitalist property, the exploitation of the wage earner by the owner. We want to smash these laws, and even by revolution if necessary abolish capitalist legality in order to bring forth a new order. But alongside these laws of privilege and rapine, made by a class and for it, there are others that sum up the pitiful progress of humanity, the modest guarantees that it has little by little conquered through a centuries-long effort and a long series of revolutions.

And among these laws the one that doesn’t allow the condemnation of a man, whoever he might be, without discussion with him is perhaps the most essential. Contrary to the nationalists who want to keep of bourgeois legality all that protects capital and turn over to generals all that protects man, we revolutionary socialists want, within today’s legality, to abolish the capitalist portion and save the human portion. We defend legal guarantees against the braided judges who smash them, just as, if the need arises, we will defend republican legality against generals in a coup d’etat.

Jean Jaurès 1898. The Dreyfus Affair

That  tradition, which sees the fight against anti-Semitism as part of the wider struggle for human rights, and socialism, is quiet but is now becoming more and more alive.

Yves Colman, one of many on the radical French left,  stands against this latest manifestation of anti-Semitism,

Quand des Gilets jaunes lancent des insultes antisémites et xénophobes contre Alain Finkielkraut ils ne font que suivre les traces de leurs prédécesseurs de Nuits debout

The fact that Finkielkraut is reactionary, hostile to Muslim immigration, is indeed an excellent reason to fight it politically. The fact that he does not understand the difference between Islam and Islamism, or between political Islam and jihadist terrorism, the fact that he defends Renaud Camus, the theoretician of the “great replacement”, does not make him particularly attractive.

But there is a wide margin between this and making antisemitic and xenophobic remarks about him when you come across him in the street. This is the step  that yellow vests made today.

Yves continues, comparing this incident to the outpouring of hatred that occurred when Finkielkraut made an equally provocative visit to the Nuit Debout movement’s spectacle at the Place de la Bastille in 2016.

The extreme left, denouncing Finkielkraut’s slightest gesture and systematically associating him with Zionism, could only have facilitated the creation of the current anti-Semitic climate. From this climate left and extreme left who claim to be “anti-Zionists” are partly responsible.

Anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism go hand in hand. And we can not pretend to fight the second without fighting the first. Otherwise we play the game of the extreme right




Written by Andrew Coates

February 18, 2019 at 1:34 pm

3 Responses

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  1. From today’s Times (London):

    Yellow vests scream antisemitic abuse at the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut

    Charles Bremner, Paris

    President Macron led a chorus of outrage against yellow-vest protesters who screamed antisemitic insults at a 69-year-old philosopher.

    The abuse of Alain Finkielkraut in Paris was the latest antisemitic act to mar the Saturday marches by the movement, which began in November as a rural uprising against Mr Macron.

    Mr Finkielkraut, a member of the Académie Française, France’s most august intellectual body, and an initial supporter of the yellow vests, was called a “dirty Jew” and “bloody Zionist” in video broadcast on television.

    Finkielkraut had withdrawn his support for the demonstrations

    Mr Macron tweeted: “The antisemitic insults that he has been subjected to are the absolute negation of what we are and what makes us a great nation. We will not tolerate it.

    “The son of Polish immigrants who became a French academician, Alain Finkielkraut is not only a prominent man of letters but the symbol of what the Republic allows everyone.”

    The philosopher, whose support for Israel and hostility to Islam has generated controversy in recent years, said he had gone to watch the protests on the Boulevard Montparnasse. “I felt absolute hatred and, unfortunately, this is not the first time,” he said. “I no longer back these demonstrations, it’s becoming grotesque. It’s a movement that no longer knows how to stop.”

    His abusers appeared to have been a mixture of old-school, far-right antisemites and people from the banlieues who supported the Palestinians, he said. “I’d be surprised if these were original yellow vests because I was one of the only intellectuals to have supported the movement at its start,” he added.

    Some 5,000 people protested in Paris and 41,000 in the rest of the country on Saturday, down from the total of about 300,000 in November. During protests in Lyons a police van was attacked. Hundreds took to the streets peacefully in central Paris again yesterday. Christophe Castaner, the interior minister, said the Lyons attackers would be found. He said that at least one of the men who abused Mr Finkielkraut had been identified and would be arrested.

    The 14th weekend of protests drew a crowd of 5,000 in Paris

    Many in politics condemned the verbal attack on Mr Finkielkraut, who was escorted to safety by police. Hard-left politicians, whose figurehead is Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of Unbowed France, withheld criticism, with some dismissing the event as “fake news” because they said the crowd had been denouncing Zionism, not Jews.

    Benjamin Griveaux, the government spokesman, said that the words “dirty Jews” were clearly heard. “The abuser is audible and identifiable. Denying and defending these insults is disgraceful,” he tweeted. Many supporters of the yellow vests disown the racial hatred that has emerged in protests in recent weeks but most of the movement’s self-styled spokesmen remained silent yesterday. Libération, the left-wing newspaper, asked leading figures in the movement “to publicly dissociate themselves from the fools who are staining them and the country”.

    A survey by Ifop last week found that 44 per cent of people who identified themselves as yellow-vest supporters believe that a global Zionist conspiracy manipulates the world. That compared with 22 per cent of the wider public. Many protests have featured banners and chants claiming that Mr Macron is a “puppet” of Jewish masters. Antisemitic acts rose 74 per cent last year, the government has said.

    Sympathy for the yellow-vest movement remains strong but patience with the often violent Saturday protests is wearing thin. An Ifop-Fiducial survey for Le Journal du Dimanche suggested that 11 per cent of the French identified as yellow vests, compared with 16 per cent a month ago. Fifty-two per cent of the public wanted the protests to stop, compared with 38 per cent who wanted them to continue.

    Mr Macron seems to have recovered somewhat after a low point in December when the protests had him on the defensive. His approval rating has risen by some six points to about 38 per cent.

    Jim Denham

    February 18, 2019 at 4:19 pm

  2. I have read Finkielkraut, apart from his – hard to avoid – journalistic articles I have one of his books, L’Identité malheureuse, 2013.

    It is a cut and paste job, from a wide variety of books and newspaper cuttings (about education, crime, arab racism towards non-Muslims, low educational standards, Melanie Phillips style).

    I would not say he’s much of a ‘philosopher’.

    I don’t read the Times, pay-wall.

    Mélenchon was “silent” it’s a funny way of putting it to say that he “withheld criticism.”

    He expressed stupid enough views as it was!


    “I am aware of how anti-semitism can be “used” I also consider that racism should never be ignored. Around Finkielkraut, I am also with those Gilets Jaunes who wanted to defend him (no evidence is given of this incidentally), and were against the attack. I’m with them.”

    The row continues today: Jean-Luc Mélenchon rejette l'”accusation ignoble” d’antisémitisme
    Publié le 18/02/2019 à 12h16


    Andrew Coates

    February 18, 2019 at 5:11 pm

  3. Sounds a bit like the Labour Party conference.

    Dave Roberts

    February 19, 2019 at 11:09 am

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