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Good Riddance

Former French Prime Minister Raymond Barre died today. The vast majority of obituaries seem to neglect or play down an important part of this man’s extraordinary ‘intellectual rigour’, as one member of the current government described Barre’s character. Raymond Barre … Read More

By / August 25, 2007

Former French Prime Minister Raymond Barre died today. The vast majority of obituaries seem to neglect or play down an important part of this man’s extraordinary ‘intellectual rigour’, as one member of the current government described Barre’s character. Raymond Barre happened to be a very rigourous anti-Semite, too, as you might recall from Beth’s reporting here on Jewcy.

According to Le Monde (the main French newspaper, roughly left-wing), it is only Barre’s last comments on the ‘Jewish lobby’ that caused ‘a wave of indignation’ in France. This is of course better than either the New York Times, which doesn’t mention anything at all about anti-Semitism. And it’s of course much better thanLe Figaro (mainstream right-wing paper) or the BBC, both of which have a talent for making the ‘accusations of anti-Semitism’ sound really… fake.

The BBC employs nice soft pharases like ‘he suggested’ when talking about what Barre qualifies as ‘a “Jewish lobby”’ -actually, he spoke of the Jewish lobby.The British journalists also qualify Maurice Papon, a man convicted of complicity of crimes against humanity, and Bruno Gollnisch, an extreme-right wing French politician convicted of Holocaust denial, of being ‘controversial’ figures. Somehow condemnation to prison sentences (albeit suspended) and support garnered only from the most extreme quarters of society doesn’t seem to me to make someone ‘controversial’. Maybe it’s just something specific about anti-Semitic crimes and offences: while you wouldn’t call a common criminal/offender ‘controversial’, you can do that about people whose attacks against a particular group seem to be forgotten as soon as they pass away if not before.

 

Note: I’m using the term anti-Semitism to refer more precisely to anti-Jewish behaviour, since it seems that’s what it what coined for; but in this case it doesn’t really make a difference -it’s pretty safe to assume someone like Barre hated all kinds of Semites, and his defence of Papon by necessity also embraced the anti-Arab actions of the latter.

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