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November 25, 2015 4:19 pm

French Ambassador to US Outrages Jewish Expats Over Post-Paris-Attack Message

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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French Ambassador to the US Gérard Araud. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

French Ambassador to the US Gérard Araud. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Last week, French citizens residing in America received a letter from Gérard Araud, France’s ambassador to the US, responding to the tragic event in Paris on November 13.

The letter expressed horror in the face of the coordinated ISIS attacks on innocent people, without mentioning the name of the terrorist organization, and an appeal for unity and solidarity during these trying times.

A debate on social media among French Jews ensued, due to a particular passage in the missive.

After expressing solidarity with the people of France and praising the United States and President Obama for “being on our side in the fight against extremism and terrorism,” Araud wrote: “These are the foundations of our model of society that the terrorists seek to destroy: Yesterday journalists and Jews; now ordinary citizens whose only crime was to enjoy life on a Friday night in Paris.”

One Jewish ex-pat, Ron Agam, a French-born Israeli artist and activist living in New York, posted his outrage on Facebook.

“Tonight French people in the US received a letter from the French Ambassador about the events in Paris. To my surprise I learned that I — the Jew that I am — was not a regular French citizen, I was a Jew.”

Another French Jew, Schlomoh Brodowicz, an academic who immigrated to Israel, explained to The Algemeiner this week why the ambassador’s statement was so vexing.

“This man [Araud], is supposed to represent France in a major country which hosts the third-largest Jewish community in the world,” he said. “And his message clearly sets the Jews apart from other French citizens. When one recalls the slaughter committed by Islamists on January 9, 2015 in the HyperCasher kosher grocery store — where four Jews doing their shopping for Shabbat were killed – this message sounds like: ‘Those who were killed while they enjoyed entertainment on Friday night were ordinary citizens, while those who were shopping for Shabbat on Friday afternoon were not ordinary citizens; they were merely Jews.’”

This, said Brodowicz, “is reminiscent of a similar remark made by then-Prime Minister Raymond Barre after the bombing of a Paris synagogue in 1980: ‘This heinous attack was aimed at Israelites who go to synagogue, but struck innocent French people crossing the street.’”

Brodowicz continued, “Sadly enough, such a reaction from the French ambassador is in line with the attitude of the French Quai d’Orsay [Foreign Ministry] with regard to Israel. The French government should openly denounce a diplomatic statement conveying such content. But I doubt [French Foreign Minister] Mr. Laurent Fabius will ever care to do that.”

Above Magazine Editor-in-Chief Nicolas Rachline, a US-based French Jew, agreed. The grandson of Lazar Rachline, a hero of the French Resistance in WWII and co-founder of the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA), told The Algemeiner that “once again, Jews are stigmatized as being different, ‘not really’ French, as they have been throughout the ages.”

He said the recent responses to the Paris attacks remind him of a joke his grandfather used to tell: “Hitler escapes the bunker and flees Germany. Later, in the company of a Nazi sympathizer, he says, ‘Next time I’ll finish off all the Jews and also the hairdressers.’ The other man asks, ‘Why the hairdressers?'”

Brodowicz acknowledged that Araud may not have intended to make a distinction between Jews and other French citizens – as he also mentioned “journalists” in the same breath, when raising the issue of previous terrorist attacks.

Still, Brodowicz said, “I venture to think that a person of such high diplomatic rank should be able to word a message the way it should be read.”

Contacted by The Algemeiner for a clarification, Ambassador Araud was unavailable for comment.

“As you must be aware, he is very busy these days,” his assistant explained.

On Sunday, as Belgium continued to be on virtual lock-down due to concrete terrorist threats, Justice Minister Koen Geens made a statement similar to that which Brodowicz and Rachline strongly objected to.

“It’s no longer synagogues or the Jewish museums or police stations,” Geens said about the Paris attacks. “It’s mass gatherings and public places.”

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  • Gilou

    This guy must be schizophrenic. He is openly gay.

    He was surely happy to live in the most gay-friendly city in the world (when he was the French ambassador in Israel).

    But he can’t keep speaking of his love for those marvellous islamic countries, where gays are hanged or beheaded.

  • Inessa

    I understand the reason for the “outrage” but the fact that they are outraged is somewhat ingenious. I am originally from Russia. It is a fact, an unjust and unfortunate fact, but a fact, that Jews who have lived in, contributed greatly to, European countries over many generations, and had no other countries to call as their own, have still been viewed as somehow foreign, visitors. It has always been this way in Europe.The Holocaust didn’t change this reality, it emphasised it – Jews were not ordinary citizens of European countries. The difference over the last 67 years is that those Jews who don’t want to live with this reality, now do have a country where they are not foreigners, even if they weren’t born there. I can only assume that the Jewish French ex-pats have grown unaccustomed to such politically incorrect sentiments since they have been in the U.S.

  • ============================================
    How French Police Handle Anti-Jewish Attacks

    Judge after judge told him [Sammy Ghozlan,
    a 72-year-old retired Paris police commissioner]:

    “There is no anti-Semitism charge applicable unless someone dies.”

    New Dangers for the Jews of Paris by Marie Brenner,
    Vanity Fair magazine, August 2015, page 114

    PS: * * * *

  • brenrod

    its the jews who are the fools, the ambassador may have meant well or not, it is irrelevant.. what is relevant is how fool jews so easily forget the consistent past of europe and the way they treat Israel today. why do jews live in europe knowing the people? What is being reminded is that first the nazis came for the jews then they came for the rest… just like now. Europe has been trying appeasement for the second time, and are again being disappointed with the results… they havn’t learned, so they will get more, just like last time.

  • glenda urmacher

    God is paying back the world for allowing the Jewish population to be decemated for generations.
    The punishment is Islam!

  • Robert Stern

    As both a Jewish American and a retired career diplomat, I am appalled, but not surprised by the Ambassador’s comments. No public statement by an ambassador ever goes out without careful scrutiny and editing to avoid any possible misinterpretation. I can only conclude, therefore, that the ambassador’s comments reflect the opinion of both his embassy and his government.

    Over almost three decades in the American Diplomatic Corps, I had innumerable opportunities to comment on and offer suggestions on our public stance. We scrupulously searched for anything which might be taken as an affront or to single out any group detrimentally unless that was our specific intent.

    I assume French diplomats are no less professional and their apparent inability to see prejudice betrays their innermost feelings.

  • Joseph Wein

    With respect, I disagree with both the author of this article and the outrage expressed by French expats. The ambassador was quite correct even if his choice of words was not optimal.

    This year, the terrorists were hunting specific people (certain cartoonists) and a specific group – Jews. We were CORRECTLY outraged when President Obama described the targeting of Jews as “a bunch of folks in a deli” as if it was an indiscriminate target.

    Most recently, the terrorists were indeed indiscriminate. They didn’t choose their targets for being cartoonists or Jews – just for being human beings.

    Let us leave the micro-aggression and victimization culture to the academics who do it best. The French ambassador was saying “We understand we are all in it together” even if he said it poorly. We would do well to embrace his sentiments rather than focus on his choice of words.

    • Steven Sherman

      What ever the ambassador meant, it is clearly implied that Jewish lives are less important that “normal” people’s lives. French Jews having chosen to make Israel their new home were acutely aware of this. Their belief that there is no future for Jews in France is not unfounded. Nor is the future of the ambassador’s normal people assured. Further, when Israel suffers terrorism on a daily basis, it is not an unreasonable thought that the French who have unfortunately- we would never wish on anyone else to suffer the terrorism that we have been suffering for the last two months- have “joined” the club, would show a little more empathy to the Jews and Israel.

    • Amnon Vaserman

      Mr Wein please read the article again there is more than a philosophical antisemitism in France ,the ambassador was appeasing the Muslims in France ,you can kill Jews but not French citizens is watt he meant.

      • Pierre Bonnefoy

        As a French person, I am outraged by the statement made by the ambassador.
        I am outraged that he did not used the chance to comment, amend and apologize.
        I still hope he will do so.

        • Janice kenner

          Thank you and G-d bless you.

    • Gene Schwimmer

      Leaving aside that journalism is a profession, something people do; while Jews are a people, the ambassador’s meaning was crystal clear: Attacks on journalists and Jews are one thing, attacks gentiles raises the problem to a much higher level of seriousness.

      France greatly stepped up her bombing of ISIS in Syria after the most recent attacks. Are we to believe that France would be doing so if were a synagogue that was attacked and the victims “only” Jews? Yeah, right.

  • Fred

    There is such a thing as editing a speech before it is used. Another flaming excuse to point out Arabs are part of France not Jews.

  • Elisheva

    Why the surprise? This is the way they really think, regardless of their position. It is so obvious to them to think like that they don’t even understand what the problem is, and their true reaction to the reaction to the statement is “those Jews again always making problems”.

    The French emotional reaction to the HyperKasher massacre was not outrage or shock. As it came at the same time as the Charlie massacre, it was a forlorn afterthought if that to any sentiment of horror expressed, but truly as long as the Islamo-fascists only attacked Jews, it was basically ok for “regular French people”. They still felt safe. Now they no longer feel safe.

    This is really a case of “first they came for the communists”. Everyone wants to maintain an illusion of why their little world is safe. Maybe that’s just human nature. And of course, the targetting of Jews only, or Jews mainly, who in their perceived otherness, despite the laicity of the French state, helped “regular French people” do just that.

    • Pierre Bonnefoy

      What do you mean by they? as in
      “This is the way they really think”

      What do you mean by “This” also in this sentence ?

  • Why is this surprising? These distinctions between “ordinary” citizens and Jews have never stopped being made, despite the generally expressed abhorrence of the Third Reich. It might be covert but even an innocent remark will induce tirades, even from apparently rational people, in geographical areas barren of Jews, as well as where they are populous.Is it due to historic Gentile religious teaching, mostly repudiated now? It became apparent to me in my Catholic High School about 55 years ago—nothing said, just the avoidance, especially in History and R.I.We never met a Jew in our town.Guilt, ignorance, alienation? It has become more obvious, and anti- semitism given spurious legality by relabelling as anti- Israelism.

  • weill

    I agree with you, being French and Jewish its what you hear in Paris today

  • French diplomats are offen stupid enough to show their true colours.

    • Amnon Vaserman

      I suppose he is the ab-solvent of the Sorbonne.

  • Sherlock Holmes

    This issue is open to interpretation, but the genuine issues remain. France must show restraint and France’s response to ISIL militants must be proportional.France must deal with apartheid, with French Muslims getting worse homes, schools and jobs. France must return to the negotiation table and agree to borders for the new Muslim state of Jihadia between France and Belgium.

    • isahiah62

      😉 B’H’

  • I really think that ex pat Jews are being over sensitive and unrealistic here. Araud was merely pointing out those who had previously been singled out as a target. Where is their outrage for the journalists who were mentioned in the same breath. It did not occur to them to interpret Araud’s words in the same way. They did not doubt that journalists are seen as citizens of France. Araud was making a sensible comment and did not deserve this response. Is there not enough real anti semitism in the world without alienating our friends?

    • Pierre Bonnefoy

      In any case, his words are subject for interpretation, and he must clarify this.

  • some consider me a vebrennte zionist, and i’m certainly not a fan of the French elites (since 2000). but this is a tempest in a tea-pot. in fact, he was acknowledging that jews were an early target. in the war we’re in, it’s impt to know when to fight back and when to give it a miss. this case is definitely the latter.

  • Franklin Delano Paskutnik

    What are Jews still doing in France – in Europe for that matter – that hotbed of anti-semitism,that graveyard of Jews?The French,like most Europeans,will never accept Jews as equal citizens.These,mainly Catholic,bigots are brought up to hate,despise,revile and scorn Jews.The modern leftist,secular or atheistic Europeans are not any better – it is not so much the religion of the “Christ-killers” that they find abhorrent,nor the “race” of the Jewish “untermenschen” – now the predominant abhorrence is directed to the state of the Jews – Israel – and anti-Zionism,which is just another form of anti-semitism,is the current fashionable form of Jew-hatred.Thank goodness that today there is an Israel to protect ,defend and stand up for the Jewish people!

    • Pierre Bonnefoy

      “The French,like most Europeans,will never accept Jews as equal citizens”

      I have a friend who is Jew. He is also French.
      Do you mean he does not accept himself an equal citizen ?

      • Franklin Delano Paskutnik

        It is not what he thinks of himself it is what others (non-Jews) think of him that matters.

  • Jankel

    Center Left Center Right Right Left Extreme Rights and Extreme Left…ALL united against Israel and Jews…
    Jews CANNOT share a Nationality and destiny as such with these traitors..!
    Participate to Any Political Parties is a nonsense. Criticize Parties is useless and vain.
    Admire any others is also hopeless.

  • Ellenl

    I think it would be more productive to bring this to the attention of the Ambassador directly than to make a tzimis over it in the press. Seems to me that he didn’t think like a Jew when he spoke. We may be human, but we’re apparently still a bunch of monkeys.

  • Kayla

    I went to the link for this article with trepidation expecting a report of an antisemitic comment or
    Blame on Israel for the Paris attacks. I am so relieved to read the incident described was not
    Inflammatory and actually quite reassuring. I am glad the French ambassador included Jews in along with journalists in the same sentence of his message. He means French journalists and French Jews. Thank you Ambassador Araud for not forgetting the terrible tragedy of the attack on the kosher deli along with the horrorible murders at the the offices of the magazine the same day.

  • ART

    Jewish lives don’t count. That is the message

  • Historian

    Parisians have always been antisemitic. This was shown blatantly in WWll when they were demanded by the Nazis to turn over all their Jewish Men. To gain favor with the Nazis they also turned over the women and children as well.

    Paris is a beautiful city with their restaurants food and fashion.. If the French people would be gone it would be perfect.

    • Stan Nadel

      It was the Vichy regime that did that, not the Parisians (who were under direct German rule).

  • Ephraim

    Dream on. Jews, if you want to avoid a repeat of 1940, get out while you can, so that the ‘real’ French can enjoy the fruits of their policies towards radical Islam.

  • David

    Analysts have stated that in their opinion, Europe will learn nothing from the Paris violence, just as in the same week, the EU passed a notorious resolution regarding the labeling of products from Yehuda and Shomrom. And thus, even as Syria is being torn apart by a civil war that appears to be carving up the country between different factions, that has not stopped the evil countries of the world that make up the UN from passing a resolution insisting that Israel return the Golan to Syria. Perhaps the UN should advise Israel which faction should get Golan.

    I am sorry to conclude that it is my opinion that many of the nations of the world are run by idiots.

  • David

    We will know the French and other Europeans “get it” when they announce that they will now stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel against the Islamist menace.

  • John Galt

    Jews: Come home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Why the surprise at yet another French Anti-semite opening his mouth so as to spew out his true feelings about the Jewish people.

  • gregg solomon

    I disagree with the criticism. The ambassador’s point was obvious. For us to deny that targeting Jews is not an issue unto itself is childish. His point was clear and in my view the criticism is either one of or a combination of 1) an attempt to sensationalize, 2) an attempt to spin a non-issue to make an issue, 3) incorrectly sensitive. I am Jewish, a strong supporter of Israel, angry about the world’s acceptance of the Arab Muslim narrative concerning Israel, studied Islam because of its impact on Israel, Jews, and the world. The Islamic fundamentalists do want to force infidels to submit or be killed. (I don’t think they are interested in taxing infidels). Mohamed made the Jews, “the people of the book,” after they would not proclaim Islam as God’s final will, Islam’s public enemy number 1 so that Islam could claim to be God’s ultimate will. And the French do not have a great history vis-a-vis Jews. But the meaning of this guys comment was obvious and I think we are childish to try and make an issue, and more importantly we dilute our integrity when it comes to the real issues.

  • rbockman

    It’s a French thing, it’s in the French psyche, just look back at what a good job they did for the nazis.

  • Sam Harris

    Wake up,the French are still the French.