New Book Shows Rise of Terrifying Anti-Semitism in France (REVIEW)
Frédéric Haziza, a French Jewish reporter whose grandfather was murdered at Auschwitz, has been the butt of an anti-Semitic, Holocaust denying campaign led by a political figure – Alain Soral, a self-professed, ultra-rightist anti-Semite. Soral controls the website Equality and Reconciliation (Egalité et Réconciliation) that has put out statements, caricatures, and photomontages depicting Haziza and Jews in a fashion reminiscent of the worst Nazi propaganda of the 1940s.
Haziza’s new book, “Vol au-dessus d’un nid de fachos,” which I translate to “One Flew Over the Fascists’ Nest,” explains the magnitude of a political movement in France that threatens not just French Jews but the traditional democratic structure of the French Republic itself.
It is a current exposé of a right-wing conspiracy that presents facts , dates, and figures to the reader, which are all too reminiscent of the German Nazi party in the 30s. The facts are there, each statement referenced by a footnote, and they are frightening to the point of shock.
This is the story of the development of a well-financed political coalition that spans the spectrum from right to left. It contains extreme, as well as mainstream, political groups in the National Front, the coalition put together by the traditional, nationalistic conservative, Jean Marie Le Pen, and now headed by his daughter, Marine.
The book explains how a French law permitting mass demonstrations (Manif pour tous – demonstrations for everyone) against same-sex marriage have brought out hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in Paris and provincial cities. In March 2013, French anti-Semitic comic Dieudonné raised his voice against same-sex marriage laws as “a Zionist project aimed at dividing the people.”
There is one element that preaches the military overthrow of the government and has a publication that is distributed to the French military. There has been violence and police action at these demonstrations and Dieudonné, the media star, has allied with Alain Soral, and Serge Elie Ayoub, to form a movement whose force is the Internet and video media. This movement of the oppressed – blacks, the poor, those in the banlieues – has attracted the Islamic-Salafist parties to form a coalition that has one common enemy – Zionism, which is politically correct to attack – and international Jewry, which has, to them, profited from the Holocaust to make money and dominate the banks, entertainment, and government.
It is a replay of the “Elders of Zion” libel and the traditional anti-Semitism that brought Hitler to power in the democratic state that Germany had been in the 20s and early 30s. It has presented anti-Semitic candidates in Parisian and regional elections in recent years. This too is reminiscent of anti-Semitic political parties whose candidates ran for office during the Dreyfus Affair of the 1890s. We know the history of the past; why should we not be wary of the present and its potential future?
Why, you might ask, has the French government allowed this to go on? Why have these elements not been arrested, jailed, or fined? Haziza explains that Dieudonné has been fined under different laws that prohibit incitement and hate talk, and that he has gone to his supporters for funds to pay the fines, which, ironically, have not been paid. The most disturbing aspect of this book to me is its pointing out that most intellectuals in France continue to deny the growing power of this political movement. They refuse to think about the extreme right, either out of fear or out of a hope that it will simply go away.
This book presents neither solutions nor suggestions about how to make the government aware of the seriousness of the problem, and to act to prevent violence and preserve freedom of political expression. But it identifies clearly for the reader the existence of a neo-Nazi movement embedded in a range of Catholic and nationalist parties of the extreme right, none of which is totally isolated from the other. They are connected to each other through what Haziza calls the “fachosphère,” the web network of the National Front.
Although each of the groups has its own ideological platform, Haziza claims that the traditional right-wing would not want to be associated openly with the Sorals, the Dieudonnés, and the Ayoubs of France. However, in periods of turmoil and political crisis, they will not openly condemn them, implying support at some level, so that the hate campaign and its propaganda continues to talk directly to the disaffected French youth, who are struggling with problems of unemployment and cultural identity.
Haziza, a reporter, is reporting to us the nature of the actors who are performing now on France’s public political stage and showing us how to distinguish among them in order to understand the potential danger of this new alliance of extremes. He points out this is not so simple as black-white, Jew-Muslim, rich-poor oppositions. It is much more complicated and revealing of a blight on the whole French Republic, with unmistakable connections to Syria, Libya, and Iran.
This book should be of great interest to Jewish readers living in the 21st Century American democracy. I recommend it highly when and if it is translated into English.
Robert S. April MD is a practicing neurologist in NYC, affiliated with the Mount Sinai Hospital, and received an MA in French literature at New York University in 2009.