Fickle Feckless France — Egalite, Fraternite … Antisemitisme

The French Foreign Ministry advanced two claims as the rationale for its decision to support the ICC—both equally risible and ridiculous.


The French Army burned 326 houses and murdered more than half of the village’s residents.  French soldiers raped many women and girls before murdering them…—an account of the massacre of civilians by French forces in the first Indo-China war.

Atrocities committed by the French during the Algerian War during the 1950s against Algerians include deliberate bombing and killing of unarmed civilians, rape, torture, executions through “death flights” or burial alive, thefts and pillagingan account of the atrocities committed by French forces during the Algerian War of Independence.

The latest surge in antisemitic sentiment has once more pushed the issue of Judeophobia to the epicenter of public debate.

The animosity towards the Jewish people –aka antisemitism—has been described as the oldest form of hatred, mutating over time from one form to another.

Gallic gall

In recent decades, the focus of anti-Jewish bias has shifted from the Jewish individual to the Jewish collective-i.e. the Jewish state. Lately, yet another mutation has emerged… “judicial antisemitism.”

One of the most blatant examples of this was the recent support France expressed for the decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, Karim Khan, to issue arrest warrants for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

In a statement late last month, the French Foreign Ministry stated it supported the independence of the ICC, and its fight against “impunity”.

Significantly, this astounding step by France reflects a stark break  from the positions of its Western allies, such as Britain and the US, where President Biden denounced the decision as “outrageous.” British PM Rishi Sunak described the ICC move as “deeply unhelpful”, remarking that it would not advance a durable ceasefire or enhance the humanitarian situation in Gaza. According to Sunak, it would do nothing to improve the provision of aid to Gaza or the prospect of reaching a sustainable ceasefire.

What is particularly galling about Paris’s decision is that France has, arguably, the worst post-WW-II record of any Western nation regarding the preservation of human rights, with a chronicle of gory atrocities stretching from Indochina to North Africa (see introductory excerpts).

Risible rationale

The French Foreign Ministry advanced two claims as the rationale for their decision—both equally risible.

Regarding the first— “impunity”: As Col. Richard Kemp (former commander of British forces in Afghanistan) remarked, no other army has ever exercised such care in avoiding civilian casualties, achieving what is the lowest ratio of civilian-to-combatant deaths in the history of modern urban warfare. Similarly, chairman of urban warfare studies at West Point, John Spencer,  described Israel’s minimizing collateral casualties as “unprecedented,” asserting that it was setting the “gold standard” for avoiding civilian casualties. Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to find any other example of a country supplying food and humanitarian aid to an enemy population as Israel is doing in Gaza.

Regarding the second—preserving ICC independence: Despite its prime facie merit, this also has a distinctly hollow ring to it. After all, if this means granting the ICC unlimited discretion to make any fanciful decision, unshackled by constraints of veracity, fairness, or decency, what is to prevent it from sentencing some luckless defendant to be burnt at the stake for disputing that the world was flat? Or that Israel was “using starvation as a weapon… in Gaza” despite regular conveys of trucks bringing in thousands of tons of food to the Gazan population—many of whom took an active part in the October 7 atrocities.

Blatant bias

This gross anti-Israel bias is reflected in France restricting its military supplies to the Jewish state, precisely after it was subjected to a barbarous attack from Gaza…in which much of the general public participated, or at least, endorsed.. Thus, the French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu stated he had ordered government officials to be “even stricter” in examining exports to Israel following October 7—leaving one to ponder how France, with a population about seven times that of Israel, might have responded, had it suffered an unprovoked attack that, proportionately, left almost 10, 000 of its citizens dead!

This sense of anti-Israel animosity is reflected in the perceptions of France by the Israeli public. In a recent survey of 1,000 Israeli adults, 55% said French society was antisemitic, significantly higher than their rating of such sentiments in Poland, Germany, and Britain.

This blatant bias seems to have encroached into other areas as well. Recently, I published an analysis that underscored some of Paris’s “adverse” patterns of conduct, detrimental both to Israel and its strategic ally, Azerbaijan.  In it, I underscored the danger of French military equipment sent to Lebanon falling into the hands of Hizballah, the prospect of French armaments provided Armenia, a bitter Azerbaijani adversary, falling into the hands of Russia, or Iran and Syria, Israel’s most dangerous foes. Ironically, Paris is trying to shore up lingering remnants of its colonial past by undermining the indigenous population of its Pacific possessions of New Caledonia. Indeed, its anti-Azerbaijan animus appears to lurk behind its claims that Baku instigated recent pro-independence rioting there. Indeed, as the NYT sardonically commented: France provided no specifics to support the allegation which Azerbaijan vehemently denies.

Difficult to decipher.

It is difficult to decipher the logical code for what appears to be rash, and myopic behavior on the part of Paris. Indeed, last week, France barred Israeli participation in a premier arms exhibition, yet welcomed countries with more-than-questionable democratic/humanitarian credentials…including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and China!!

But whatever the rationale, as I wrote previously, ominous clouds of Franco-Israeli tensions appear to be gathering on the horizon.

©2024. Dr. Martin Sherman. All rights reserved.

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