For One Democratic State
in the whole of Palestine (Israel)


FOR One Man, One Vote



A Report on Shamir’s Publisher Trial in France

by Maria Poumier

The Hearing of the Lawsuit against the Publisher, Al Qalam, prosecuted on behalf of the LICRA, the 6 Sep 2005-09-11 re Israel Shamir's book L'Autre Visage d'Israel (‘The Other Face of Israel’, called Galilee Flowers in English) “a book teeming with incitement to racial hatred”, according to the prosecuting counsel, Marc Levy.

The magistrate of the 14th chamber of the Nanterre TGI (Tribunal de grande instance), Mr Regrolèbe, dwelt at length on the contents of the back cover of the book, on the ‘provocative nature of the mock-up’, and on the content, assessing them to be quite violent, ‘letting loose an emotional load’ capable of leading eventual purchasers of the book to hatred, a book which is available at FNAC (one of France’s largest booksellers), where ‘they are not researchers from the CNRS’ coming to fill up their cart. To mention the USA’s hegemonic power at the world level seemed to him ‘very hard’, just like the comparison of Israeli society with apartheid. And to read that ‘No, not all Jews are wonderful’, or that they possess ‘terrifying power’; he found that to be a ‘ somewhat warlike discourse’, though he recognised that it was all presented as a counterweight to what had been ‘a mainstream line, for all intents and purposes’. Then he questioned the publisher to find out to what extent he accepted responsibility for each and every sentence of the book, what had motivated him to publish something so incongruous, and if he considered that he had in front of him a ‘ dramatisation intended to appeal to the reader’, a ‘ relatively spirited discourse’, a ‘ rather black pessimism’, as we were used to say in the past, when some people mentionned ‘the forces of evil’.

The publisher has bravely accepted responsibility. When the author beckons a reader to combat the ideas of Mr Finkelraut, this book ‘re-establishes the equilibrium’ amongst the analyses of the conflict in the Middle East in a French business climate where this type of book is rare. He doesn’t think there is either incitement to hatred nor to violence, while recognising that the book had been the subject of a previous publication in France, and had been withdrawn from the market by the publisher. The judge took the trouble to read several paragraphs from the conclusion of the book ‘For a Separate Peace’, in order to demonstrate that he took into account the author’s project, that of working towards peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Mr Delcroix, counsel for the defence, claimed the partial non-validity of the accusation, because for a number of the incriminating expressions and extracts, the page references were incorrect. Then he read passages where Shamir clearly differentiates between an ‘ideology’, a ‘paradigm’, and the Jews as individuals, where Judaism explicitly represents for Shamir a personal ‘choice’. He reminded us that in the above, Shamir admitted repeating the thesis of the Trotskyite Jew, Isaac Deutscher.

Mr Levy, the prosecuting counsel, made it known that proceedings have been started against Shamir himself. He described the book as ‘outrageous’, and one which reveals an ignorance of French laws. Then he read some passages which he interpreted as a revival of the ‘Protocols of Zion’, a ‘sham produced by Tsar Alexander III. Contrary to what often happens nowadays, it’s not a question of anti-Semitism hiding behind anti-Zionism, but exactly the opposite. Because the Jews want to dominate the world, they command ‘Thou shalt not kill’ to mean that Jews have the right to kill everybody, except fellow Jews, and that they are predatory and covetous, it would be necessary to fight them, according to Shamir. The anecdote about the Inuit ‘who broke the kettle lest it should grow up into a locomotive capable of crushing people’, seems to him a real call to hatred, hatred towards a religion, a race, and an ethnic group. The judicial precedent set by the Dieudonne case concluded that the latter committed insult, not incitement to hatred; with Shamir it’s different, as we have both direct and indirect incitement, by means of certain tales, such as the story of Joseph being sold into slavery by his own brothers, while everybody knows that it was the Egyptians who enslaved the Hebrews, then the story of one of the gospels being solemnly burned in Israel, or certain other stories of extra-judicial assassinations. Then there is the history of the Jews compared to that of the Brahmans, of which Mr. Levy understands nothing, because he knows nothing about the Brahmans (important, since it was Isaac Deutscher, the Trotskyite Jew, who formulated the comparison, which Shamir simply repeated). Whether Shamir and/or Delcroix invoke Marx or other authorities, it’s completely ‘odious’, because what they are defending goes back to Hitler. The damages and interest and the withdrawal of the book are simply a beginning of Reparations.

Mr Delcroix took up all these points reminding us that the Protocols could not be imputed to Nicholas III, but might well have been the work of the French novelist, Maurice Joly, a fiction writer, amongst whose works there is something very much alike, ‘A Dialogue in Hell’, and can thus be interpreted as a type of science fiction novel, (like Orwell’s 1984), of which Shamir clearly states that it does not specifically impute the conspiracy to the Jews. He pointed out that Shamir simply repeats Solzhenitsyn in his interpretation of the Protocols. He then referred to three Jewish authors, other than Marx (The Jewish Question), who develop the three central ideas for which Shamir is criticised: ambition to dominate the world; the connection between Jews and money; the religious injunction to practise vengeance. However, none of these three is subject to prosecution. This is followed by a passage from Deuteronomy (28, 1, 10, 12, and 13), another from Edouard Valdman, president of the Association of Jewish Francophone Writers, and author of ‘The Jew and Money: For a Metaphysics of Money’, ed. Galilée, Paris, 1994, and finally Sergio Quinzio, under official rabbinic control, who explains why one must not forgive, according to Judaism, in ‘Hebrew Roots of the Modern World’, ed. Balland, coll. Metaphora, directed by Rabbi Marc-Alain Ouakuin, Paris 1992, pp 150-151. These ideas are so widespread as to be commonplace. And ‘ the only country which admits to killing people who haven’t been tried is Israel. Conclusion: when one mentions these three characteristics in a positive way, one is encouraged by the LICRA; in the opposite case must one be condemned?

The judicial precedent set by the Houellebecq case confirms that in secular France one has the right to criticise religions [Houellebecq is a novelist who says Islam is the more stupid of all religions]. Whether one thinks of Shamir’s analyses as criticisms of an ideology or of a religion changes nothing, insofar as one has the right to criticise Nazism, Marxism, etc. The ‘divine exception’ doesn’t come into play here. The European Convention on the Safeguarding of Human Rights confirms that it sees itself as secular, and the freedom to criticise has no connection with incitement of hatred of people on account of the country they come from, the nationality or other characteristics which they do not choose, but which are an accident of birth. Delcroix did not hesitate to describe Shamir as a ‘saint’, who has written heart-rending pages on thousand-year-old olive trees uprooted , peasants whose houses are razed to the ground, and finally, and springs from the times of Abraham dried up by Caterpillar tanks; he thinks we are dealing with a ‘very great’ book, and that it would be lamentable if France were to treat the publisher as the ex-USSR treated Solzhenitsyn. He pointed out that the LICRA, by asking for € 50 000 in damages and interest, and the withdrawal of the book (which would be a supplementary penalty), would like to see a system of private fines introduced in France.

The trial will continue in November 2, 2005