French Prez Hollande Gives Arabs a Chance to Show What Motivates Their Hatred of Israel
French president François Hollande gave the Arabs a chance last week to demonstrate once again how much they hate Jews --Jews, not merely Israel.
During a speech last week to the CRIF Jewish representative group, Hollande joked that Interior Minister Manuel Valls had just returned “safe and sound” from a trip to Algeria. “That’s already a lot,” Hollande added. [al-Arabiya, here]Algeria suffered a fearsome civil war in the 1990s between Islamist fanatics and Government forces. Between 100,000 and 200,000 Algerians were killed by fellow Muslims, often in the very gruesome ways that Islamist jihadists are so fond of. So Hollande's wisecrack had grounds in reality. The country was very dangerous in the 1990s and is still not very safe. To be sure, the wisecrack was not very politic or diplomatic. Yet what seems to have bothered the Algerian Arabs the most was that he made the joke in front of a Jewish audience.
Hollande said in French the words between quotes below:
The Jewish organization, the CRIF [Conseil Représentatif des Israélites de France -- Representative Council of French Jews], is the umbrella group for many smaller Jewish organizations in France. And François Hollande was appearing before the CRIF at its 70th anniversary dinner. Many of the Jews in the audience were themselves natives of Algeria where the Jewish community had preceded the Arab invasion by centuries, yet they fled for their lives with the French Algerians in 1962. So Hollande's remark may have given those Jews a certain bittersweet satisfaction. But the anger at him came from well fed government officials and newspaper editors as well as from more ordinary Algerians:
A l'occasion de l'anniversaire du Crif, le chef de l'Etat a plaisanté sur le voyage de son ministre de l'Intérieur en Algérie. "Il est revenu sain et sauf et c'est déjà beaucoup". Mais certains internautes n'ont pas apprécié. [ici]
The statement sparked widespread outrage and front-page headlines in the Algerian press.One Algerian paper wrote in a headline: “Hollande mocks Algeria in front of the Jews”.[France24, here]
Lamamra [Algerian foreign minister] said Saturday that the joke did not reflect “the spirit of our relations and of the reality that French delegations and others can see regarding the security situation in Algeria.”
He said he hoped “to be able to find a way before the end of the year to turn the page on this regrettable incident.” [here]
Here is a summary of Algerian internet commentary on the incident [in French]:
The French president's joke made his audience [of Jews] laugh but it was far from being to the taste of Algerian Internet surfers. The fact that François Hollande had uttered this phrase before the CRIF, an organization reputedly close to Israel, much outraged the Algerian facebookers and tweeters. "And yes, they come to invest and take the money, later to insult us to win the favor of the Jews!" Mohamed reacted on Facebook. "Just one question Monsieur Hollande. Jean-Marc Ayrault [the very Nordic-looking French PM] came back from Algeria with contracts for several billion euros for the French economy! Do you agree? The CRIF brings you what for the economy? 0%. On the contrary, they came to celebrate at the Élysée [France's presidential palace presumably the site of the dinner] at the expense of the French taxpayers. What you gain on contracts in the Algerian market, you use to win the favor of the CRIF. That's the equation that I ask you to reexamine," Far notes. "Frankly, it's dumb. It is clear that he was making fun of Valls, since the latter, besides being an over the top racist, is totally devoted to the 'legitimacy of Israel' and the Jewish community in France, and in Algeria . . ." Quelque Chose insists. "It is in order to please the Zionists who finance him and pay his check at the end of the month," Romaissa adds. [tsa-algerie.com , ici]
La plaisanterie du président français a fait rire son audience mais elle est loin d’être du goût des internautes algériens. Le fait que François Hollande ait prononcé cette phrase devant le Crif, une organisation réputée proche d’Israël, a beaucoup indigné les facebookers et twittos algériens. « Et oui, ils viennent pour investir et prendre l'argent ensuite nous insulter pour les beaux yeux des Juifs ! » réagit Mohamed sur Facebook. « Juste une question Monsieur Hollande. Jean-Marc Ayrault est revenu d'Algérie avec des contrats de plusieurs milliards d'euros pour l'économie française ! On est d'accord ? Le Crif t'apporte quoi à l'économie ? 0%. Au contraire, ils sont venus festoyer à l’Élysée aux frais des contribuables français. Ce que vous gagnez sur le marché algérien en contrats, vous le consommez pour les beaux yeux du Crif. C'est l'équation que je vous demande de revoir », note Far. « Franchement, c'est débile. Il est clair qu'il se moque de Valls, puisque ce dernier en plus d'être raciste sur les bords, a un dévouement total pour la "légitimité d’Israël" et la communauté juive en France, et en Algérie, ce n'est pas le cas, bien au contraire », souligne Quelque Chose. « C'est pour plaire aux sionistes qui le financent et qui paient son chèque de fin de mois », ajoute Romaissa. [tsa-algerie, ici][paragraph added 12-24-2013] Note that the commenters quoted in the paragraph above do not deny that Hollande's witticism reflected the reality of life in Algeria. What they object to is Hollande making the remark to a Jewish audience. To be sure, the foreign minister said that the remark did not reflect "the reality that French delegations . . . can see regarding the security situation in Algeria.” Be the "security situation" in Algeria as it may, the ordinary commenters quoted above are concerned not about the truth or falsehood of the witticism but that it was made in front of Jews.
It is also interesting that Hollande was criticized at home by both the "Left" and the "Right" for insulting Algeria, although spokespersons for each camp in France failed to point out how the Algerians were insulting the Jews, many of them refugees from Algeria driven out by the Arabs.
French politicians on the right and left also expressed disapproval of the joke. Far-left leader – and 2012 presidential candidate – Jean-Luc Mélenchon said [and] tweeted that Hollande’s quip made him “nauseous”.
And Valérie Pécresse, a former minister under Nicolas Sarkozy and a current representative from the right-wing UMP party, said on French television that she found the remark “particularly clumsy and not worth of a president of the republic [France 24, here]
Whereas these two French politicians only worried about the hurt feelings of the Arabs, neither one seemed bothered by the insult to the Jews, for what bothered the Algerian Arabs the most was that Hollande made his wisecrack to a Jewish audience. Arabs and Muslims generally have been taught to hate and despise Jews for centuries, and when Jews gain state power, they feel insulted that their former subjects whom they lorded over once upon a time have now regained their dignity leaving the Arabs in a weaker position. So it's not the "occupation" but their own refusal to accept Jews as equals that causes them to be so enraged.