The French Malaise
By Israel Shamir
Tarascon is as French as they come. A charming and tiny Provençal
village outside the high crenellated walls of an old chateau on the
high bank of Rhone lies in a pleasant country full of sunlight,
thistle, rough wine and Mistral poetry. But for the river, it is
very similar to my arid Palestine; and indeed, an ingenious and
liberated Palestinian girl Nicolette was wooed here by the heir to
Beaucaire castle, young Aucassin, in a 13th-century fable.
Tarascon’s church (bombed in 1940’s by the ubiquitous US Air Force)
is old enough to remember their oaths. But Tarascon’s chief claim to
posterity is due to a novel by the bard of the South, Alphonse
Daudet. There is a monument to its main character, Tartarin, an
epitome of a Southern peasant, a jovial, earthly but boastful type
who is getting carried away by his imagination and invariably gets
In a less-well-known sequel, Tartarin is told that the Alps are
perfectly safe, and ravines, avalanches and steep rocks are but
means for the local guides to squeeze hefty tips from naïve
alpinists. Armed with this knowledge Tartarin commits great feats of
courage, crosses abyss by walking a rope, climbs unvanquished
heights and shocks his guides by his foolhardy bravery; until… Until
he learns that the dangers of the Alps are perfectly real. From that
moment he is unable to walk even a broad path for fear for his life,
and the great hero of yesterday has to be taken down by four strong
This mishap of Tartarin reminded me the present U-turn of French
politics. Just a year ago, France courageously objected to the US
plans of aggression in Iraq. Jacques Chirac forged the coalition of
the brave, allying with Germany, Russia and China against the
neocons’ drive to submit the Middle East to Sharon’s mercy. But
since then, the US tanks reached Baghdad, and the neocons declared
France their enemy No.1, on a par with North Korea and Iran.
Tartarin of Tarascon had had second thoughts for he paid heed to the
Alpine abyss in front of him.
This U-turn is most visible in relation to Israel and to Jews. Just
a year ago, the feeling of French independence was so strong that a
French ambassador dared to wonder why ‘a small shitty country’
causes so much mischief on global scale. Now, the president of the
small shitty country entered Paris amidst the triumphal brouhaha
normally reserved for victorious emperors; and the butcher of Qibye,
Sabra and Chatila is about to visit the subdued France this summer.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz mused: “If you are planning to visit
Paris next week, maybe you should reconsider. Because of the "rising
tide of anti-Semitism"? On the contrary. Because of the "I love
Israel" parade. President Moshe Katsav will be arriving in Paris for
a state visit and his counterpart, Jacques Chirac, intends to greet
him with a big bear hug and even halt all the traffic in the busy
downtown area. In the 16th century, the Protestant King Henri IV
declared that "Paris is well worth a Mass" (i.e., conversion to
Catholicism). The sovereign sitting in the capital today believes
that warmer relations with Israel are well worth giving irritable
Parisian drivers a nervous breakdown.”
The best and biggest congress venue of Paris, Palais des Congres,
was allocated to the annual concert of ABSI, Association for Israeli
Soldier’s Welfare (it was shifted at last moment to the Expo Park at
Versailles). The brave communists of PCN-NCP wrote in their
ringing Gallic prose: ‘It appears that we have to attend to welfare
of these sweet guys who planted 200 000 anti-personnel mines in
South Lebanon, of the henchmen of the check-points, the destructors
of Jénine and Palestine, of back-up troops of the death squads, the
pilots who bomb the Palestinian refugee camps, of soldiers shooting
at children armed with stones’.
The PCN-NCP do not beat around the bush and do not attribute this
development to doubtful Israeli charms. For them, “the Zionist lobby
are the advance force of Yankee collaborationists who carry out
their old worn-down blackmail of ‘antisemitism’,” this equivalent of
anti-Sovietism in the Pax Americana. But the real problem is not
‘antisemitism’ but Judeophobia, fear of Jews, not-too-irrational
fear of their power. Many people in France and elsewhere believe in
their heart of hearts that it is the Jewish power that brought
American tanks to Baghdad, and can bring them to Paris, if
True or not, the idea has its own power. And while the brave French
people of the PCN-NCP reject what they call ‘Kollaboration with the
American-Zionist imperialism’, less brave trod the submissive path
of Vichy. France is not conquered yet, but Tartarin already warms
his cold feet.
The Jewish lobby hates every reference to Christ and objects to the
epochal film Passion of Christ by Mel Gibson; and in all Catholic
France, once the beloved daughter of the Church, not a single
established distributor dared to screen this film. This suicidal
task was taken by a Christ-loving Muslim immigrant from Maghreb,
thus stressing that Christ is the unique figure uniting Arab
Muslims, French Catholics and Russian Orthodox in one anti-Mammonite
front. Indeed, the Muslim immigrants restored to France some
of its indomitable spirit that was lost with many young lives at
The Zionist lobby objected to the wild humour of Dieudonne and this
extremely popular stand up comedian found the halls of the country
locked in front of his face. The Zionist lobby objected to my book
L’Autre Visage d’Israel published by Balland, and its manager Denis
Bourgeois, this rightful heir to Tartarin, ordered to burn the book.
Now, on 15 of March, 2004, in Marseille, the CRIF, the shock troops
of American-Israeli collaborators in France, take to court the
internet publisher of La Maison d'Orient, Pierre-Alexandre Orsoni
and the translator Marcel Charbonnier, dour friends of Palestine and
my friends, for ‘provocation of racial hatred’ for they translated
and published in the Web my essay Midas Ears (read it in English ,
in French , in Spanish ).
In the essay, I attributed the Iraqi War to the concerted drive of
the organised American Jewry. “Oh no, it is OIL”, wrote some
readers, “it is WMD”, surmised others. A year passed by, Iraq is
conquered, but there is no oil coming out of there, as I predicted;
but oil and food is coming at good price to the bleeding American
troops in Iraq from Israel. There was no WMD in the Middle East, but
in Israel, the only beneficiary of the Iraqi War.
King Midas also did put his barber on trial for disclosing the
terrible secret of king’s donkey ears; but too late, the secret was
out. Likewise, the secret of Polichinelle of Jewish influence in the
US was out thanks to their push for war.
The CRIF had an additional reason to attack Midas Ears. In the
essay, I quoted a French Jewish historian Simcha Epstein, who
discovered that French Jewish organisations secretly bought and
subverted French media for many years. This historical fact was too
close to the dark heart of CRIF’s influence. Instead of arguing with
it, or asking Simcha Epstein, a leading Jewish historian with the
Centre of Antisemitism Studies in Israel, to enlighten them, they
tried to silence it. Two newspapers Le Monde and Libération (a.k.a.
L'Immonde and L'Aberration) apparently felt concerned and
simultaneously attacked Orsoni, Marcel Charbonnier and me. None
dared to deal with the accusation of Epstein. Indeed, Le Monde had
met the Israeli President with a front page heading Zionist and
Proud of It.
The trumped-up charges of ‘racial hatred’ should not mislead. It is
our Zionist enemies who daily incite racial hatred, Alain
Finkielkraut (“What's good for the Jews is good for France”) to
Arabs, Andre Glucksman to Russians, Daniel Goldhagen (“Hitler's
Willing Executioners”) to Germans. In 1972, Bernard-Henri Levy
applauded summary executions of French lovers of German officers in
the most racist terms. But de Gaulle did not ‘incite racial
hatred’ when he called for Resistance to the German invader. Joan of
Arc did not ‘incite racial hatred’ when she fought for France
against the English overlord.
Our friends, noble Pierre-Alexander Orsoni and valiant Marcel
Charbonnier, belong to the same sort of French as Charles de Gaulle;
they fight for Free France against the encroaching shadow of
Judeo-American imperialism and its Fifth column in France. Friends
of Palestine, they know of the Cross of Lorraine presented by de
Gaulle to Arafat; the embattled Palestinian president still wears it
on his heart as a sign of love to Christ and to His French and
Palestinian warriors. It will surely bring victory to the fearless
The judges in Marseille should be fearless, too. For a judge, as
opposed to a peasant of Tarascon, cowardice is a sin; it is the
unforgivable sin of Pilate. They should not listen to the claque of
CRIF calling to crucify these men. After all, France is not occupied
yet, though you would never guess it by the impudence of the Fifth
Column. The writ of New York and Tel Aviv does not reach Marseille
yet. Though Alps are real, Tartarin can still walk this path.
Write to Marcel Charbonnier and to Pierre-Alexander Orsoni !
 Les Aventures prodigieuses de Tartarin de
Tarascon (1872; “The Prodigious Adventures of Tartarin de Tarascon”)
 Muslims’ love to Christ and to His Mother is enshrined in the
holiest shrine of Islam in Jerusalem: the Dome of the Rock, with the
blazing golden letters inscribed by the Umayyad Caliphs that
proclaim “Blessed is Jesus Christ, Blessed is the Day of His
Nativity, and Blessed is the Day of His Resurrection.”
 The Sparrow and the Cockroach
 Michel Foucault Debat avec les maos 5 Feb 1972, Les Temps
Modernes No. 310
The PaRDeS, a new long essay by Israel Shamir is available to donors
or active contributors of this list just for asking. Send an email
to Shamir@home.se with subject ‘pardes’ to receive the PDF file.
Responses to the PaRDeS:
From Nancy Horn, Pennsylvania:
Dear Israel Adam,
I am reeling, with horror at the subject matter and awe at what you
have done with it, the depth and breadth not only of your knowledge
but, far more important, your brilliance.
While I adore the elegiac prose you cannot NOT use when describing
Palestine, and had thought nothing could surpass Galilee Flowers, I
think -- no, I KNOW -- you have done so with this one.
You have not only seen with greater clarity and depth the very
things we have noticed, you have explained their interconnectedness
with this abhorrent whole.
My deepest congratulations to you on the production of a really
superb, monumental treatment of our world and what ails us.
Thank you, Shamir, for making sense of things.
From Hans Olav Brendberg, Norway:
PaRDeS is a tour de force through your main themes.
From Gerald Jugant, France
With the reading of PaRDeS, I feel the spirit of Simone Weil, but in
a way even more conscious and obvious, you belong to the great
tradition of the Jewish mystic teaching, the Cabbala. Undoubtedly
you attempt to revive this very old, mainly lost, wisdom of
humanity, who has as a base the golden age, the original paradise,
the very old time of the man in harmony with nature and its own
From John Spritzler
I just finished reading all of Pardes. I found it fascinating
because it helped me understand (somewhat) -- for the first time
actually -- your overall world view. I see that you use the phrase
"the Jews" (without the quotation marks) to denote a world view
embodied for thousands of years in Jewish culture and writings -- a
world view which individual people (Jew or not) may adopt or reject,
or serve (like the Messiah's Donkey) without even being aware of it.
I also see that your "the Jews" concept has a lot in common with the
modern capitalist ideology of individualism and rejection of the
dignity of all human beings (seeing them as objects to be
exploited). I think that the source of our agreement on things like
opposition to Zionism and support for a one-state solution where
Jews and non-Jews are all equal and opposition to oppression in
general stems from the fact that your "the Jews" and my "Capitalism"
are concepts that overlap a good deal.
While I understand that your "the Jews" is not a nationalistic (or
racist) concept, don't you worry at all that the phrase (especially
without the quotation marks around it) encourages nationalistic
thinking? I do. Why not replace it with something less susceptible
to misuse? I think "the Jews" is a less useful concept than
"Capitalism" for understanding the world we live in. But I guess we
will have to agree to disagree about that.
Thank you for sharing your very eloquently written and
fascinating-to-read Pardes with me.