For Le Pen and toxic ban­lieues, Jews are part of an es­tab­lish­ment that must be dis­man­tled


AN­TISEMITISM HAS be­come “part of the air that we breathe” in France and its var­i­ous pro­mot­ers — on the right and left — are co­a­lesc­ing to form a toxic threat to the coun­try’s Jews.

So says Pro­fes­sor An­drew Hussey, di­rec­tor of the Cen­tre for Post-Colo­nial Stud­ies act Lon­don Univer­sity’s School of Ad­vanced Stud­ies and the au­thor of a ground­break­ing study, The French In­tifada, pub­lished in 2014.

He re­vealed that his French pub­lisher would not ac­cept the title, in­stead re-nam­ing it In­sur­rec­tions En France (“Up­ris­ings In France”), be­cause, Mr Hussey said, “He thought peo­ple would talk too much about the Jews.”

Prof Hussey said that cur­rently “there is what is called the ‘new an­tisemitism’ in France,” which is mainly man­i­fested in the ban­lieues, the poverty-stricken im­mi­grant neigh­bour­hoods in and around big cities. “There has al­ways been the ‘an­tisemitism du salon’, or the old an­tisemitism [as ex­pressed in Vichy] — that will never go away. But then there is the more pop­ulist an­tisemitism as ex­pressed in the ban­lieues.”

He came across this when he be­gan re­search­ing the mur­der of Ilan Hal­imi, the young French Jew who was killed in Paris in 2006 af­ter weeks of tor­ture. “I be­gan talk­ing to peo­ple in the ban­lieues in 2008, and it was very con­tentious po­lit­i­cally, be­cause the only per­son who de­scribed it as an an­tisemitic crime was [for­mer pres­i­dent Ni­cholas] Sarkozy. The gov­ern­ment wanted to put it down to so­cial delin­quency and were in com­plete de­nial about the an­tisemitism. I wanted to find out if it was true or not.”

He dis­cov­ered, af­ter talk­ing to young peo­ple and gang mem­bers, “an­tisemitism as a form of youth re­volt, de­spite the fact that they ad­mit­ted they had never met any­one Jewish”. In the ban­lieues, he said, “you have a kind of civil war be­tween Jews and Arabs which was ex­ported from Al­ge­ria, where they all came from”.

Though there is de­nial in some ech­e­lons of Jewish so­ci­ety, Prof Hussey said “Jews on the ground know it’s real”.

Ex­ploit­ing this al­ready vo­latile sit­u­a­tion is the con­tro­ver­sial French co­me­dian, Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, who has been con­victed a num­ber of times for hate speech and glo­ri­fy­ing ter­ror­ism.

Prof Hussey be­gan his aca­demic stud­ies in Lyons, “which un­be­known to me was fas­cist cen­tral, and which was where Robert Fau­ris­son was a pro­fes­sor”. Th­ese days, Fau­ris­son ap­pears on stage in Dieudonné’s shows, dressed in striped “camp” uni­form, while the co­me­dian, mak­ing the “quenelle” sa­lute — associated with the ex­trem­ist right — tells the au­di­ence, mainly from the ban­lieues, about the third strand of an­tisemitism — “né­ga­tion­isme” — or Holo­caust de­nial.

“Th­ese kids don’t know who Fau­ris­son is, he’s just an old pro­fes­sor, but he’s also a mar­tyr to them,” said Prof Hussey. “Né­ga­tion­isme is ba­si­cally an oc­cult con­spir­acy the­ory among in­tel­lec­tu­als. But it be­comes dan­ger­ous when it be­comes an es­tab­lished, al­most re­li­gious be­lief, out in the ban­lieues. And for th­ese kids, it ex­plains every­thing: the Jews run the world.”

The “ca­sual an­tisemitism of youth re­volt” found a darker ex­pres­sion in the 2012 killings in Toulouse by Mo­hammed Merah, who mur­dered seven peo­ple, in­clud­ing three chil­dren, at a Jewish school. Dur­ing a 30 -hour siege af­ter which he was shot dead by po­lice, Merah said he had at­tacked the school be­cause, “the Jews kill our broth­ers and sis­ters in Pales­tine”.

Mr Hussey did work in pris­ons af­ter Merah’s killing spree and dis­cov­ered that he had be­come “a hero” to pris­on­ers. He also be­lieves that the ban­lieues and the ex­treme right Na­tional Front, led by Ma­rine Le Pen, have some­thing in com­mon — both de­spise the con­cept of the French Repub­lic and both want to dis­man­tle it. “For both of them, af­ter Charlie Hebdo and the Hy­per Cacher at­tacks, the slo­gan is not ‘Je suis Charlie’, but ‘Je suis ma­nip­ulé’. (‘I am ma­nip­u­lated, by the gov­ern­ment’).”

It was no ac­ci­dent, Mr Hussey be­lieved, that Ms

Le Pen chose to launch her pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in Lyons. “That’s the lodestar of un­der­stand­ing the

French po­lit­i­cal cli­mate.

It was the cap­i­tal of col­lab­o­ra­tion… and it was also the cap­i­tal of re­sis­tance”.

There is a fourth group that ex­presses an­tisemitism: “the Catholic ul­tra­right, for whom the Jews rep­re­sent the athe­ist, mod­ernist, de­mons.” In anti-gay mar­riage demon­stra­tions by this group, slo­gans such as “Mort aux ho­mos, mort aux pieds-noirs, mort aux Juifs” — “Death to gays, to Arabs, and to Jews” — can be seen. “And the other group op­posed to the Repub­lic has been the Catholic Church in France.”

In ev­ery coun­try, Prof Hussey said, the Israel-Pales­tine sit­u­a­tion had an ef­fect on the lo­cal de­bate. “But when it is down­loaded into France, where the stew of an­tisemitism is so par­tic­u­lar, it takes on this poi­soned en­ergy. It’s to do with at­mos­phere. And now, I’m start­ing to feel that this stuff has long since left the li­brary [and aca­demic re­search] and be­come part of the air that we breathe.”

Shaoh de­nial has be­come a quasire­li­gious be­lief


Pro­fes­sional rebel and an­ti­semite: Dieudonné

Pro­tester at an an­tiIs­rael rally in Paris

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