FRANCE: Persistence of French anti-Semitism, Corruption, & the Olympic Games
Jon Kofas writes: A report (3/21/ indicates about a 35% rise in anti-Semitic incidents, and a comparable rise in anti-Muslim attacks, statistic which reveal an active neo-Nazi minority escaping the authorities' scrutiny. The birth place of Boulangist novelist/politician Murice Barres, the Aflred Dreyfus Affair, and Marshal Petain's Vichy regime, France is the most anti-Semitic country in Europe, at least overtly. Amid corruption trials involving 47 people close to president Jacques Chirac, dating back to the days of his term as Paris mayor (1977-1995), it is difficult to understand why the current government would not be more active in suppressing anti-Semitic, racist, and xenophobic elements. This is especially significant because Paris wants to secure the games for 2012, at a time that Guy Drut, minister of sports and Paris Olympic Committee member, is one of the accused. It seems strange that the French government, which tries to project an image of a pluralistic, open, and cosmopolitan society with a balanced world-view in domestic and foreign affairs, has not done more to prevent anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim attacks. At a time that the Chirac government is ostensibly trying to play a constructive role in northern Africa and the Middle East, while it projects the U.S. as the superpower monolith unconcerned with social justice, it seems strange that it has not been more active in providing greater security and protection for minorities. Though it was released 10 years ago, the French film "HATE" rings more true today than in the mid-90s when Chirac became president. The only comfort that the Gaullists may take from all of this is that the Socialists are also corrupt, and they too have not done much to promote an atmosphere of respect for the Jewish and Muslim minorities on their soil. Randy Black thought that France would lose the games owing to labor unrest. Uncertainty about the role of the trade unions as a possible disruptive force notwithstanding, official corruption so close to Chirac, and anti-Semitism and xenophobia may be larger factors in the decision-making process.
RH: French TV ran a program on this. France is trying to assimilate its Muslims, now the largest minority in France. Islam is the second largest religion, but 70% of the clergy were not born in France and many do not speak French. The French government has set up a special foundation to coordinate Muslim activities, clearly in order to trace the origin of the funds received and to monitor activities. If the Muslims become assimilated, they will be less of a danger and there will be less hostility toward them. This of course has little to do with anti-Semitism.