Michelle Mazel on La nouvelle propagande anti-juive, du symbole al-Dura aux rumeurs de Gaza

, November 9, 2010

Jewish Political Studies Review 22:3-4 (Fall 2010)

There is something tragic in Pierre-André Taguieff’s ardent efforts to make the world sit up and take notice of the new and potentially deadly forms of Judeophobia rising on the ashes of the Holocaust. In a previous and lengthy study, Judeophobia of Modern Times: From the Enlightenment to World Jihad,[1]  he tried to explain how hating and fearing the Jews had morphed into hating Israel: “[a]t the core of anti-Semitism in the strict sense of the term was the refusal to accept the presence of the Jews within the nation; what is at the root of radical anti-Zionism is the refusal to grant Jews the right to want to be a nation…. Radical anti-Zionism [is] a contemporary manifestation of Judeophobia.”

In this new book Taguieff goes a step further, highlighting the fact that an all-out propaganda effort is now directed not only against the Jews but also against the Jewish state. As he notes in the introduction: “Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, two major types of accusation have been used in targeting the Israelis, the Zionists, and more generally the Jews: ‘racism’ – as an ideology of ethnic superiority and various forms of discriminatory practices – and the murder of non-Jewish children.”[2] But now a new dimension has been added, what Tagueiff calls the “Islamization of the anti-Jewish discourse…which consists of establishing, explicitly or implicitly, jihad against the Jews as a sixth religious imperative that every Muslim must observe.”[3]

Whereas ancient or traditional anti-Semitism as implemented by the Nazis aimed at eradicating the Jewish people, “[t]he new anti-Jewish program has for its main objective the elimination by whatever means of the state of Israel.”[4] “Whatever means”: such is, according to Taguieff, the scope of the all-out war against Israel using lies, disinformation, and deliberate distortions. “Israel is permanently accused…on the basis of rumors….” For a rumor to be effective, it has to conform to a stereotype, and to translate into the “cultural code” of the target audience. For instance, in 2009 Israel was accused on the basis of a rumor of harvesting for gain the organs of its Palestinian victims. This meant “reactivating the old accusation of ritual murder” (33).

Israel had already been flogged in the Al-Dura affair, to which Taguieff devotes about one-fifth of his study because it epitomizes the problem. “The Al-Dura icon, the image of the Palestinian child  supposedly ‘killed by the Zionists’ has become one of the main vectors of the new anti-Jewish propaganda” (281). What turned into the Al-Dura affair began on 30 September 2000 with a news item on France 2. A report on clashes in the Gaza Strip showed a forty-eight-second clip allegedly depicting the death of a child killed by Israeli soldiers while seeking shelter in his father’s arms. Images not shown at the time demonstrate that the child was not dead at that point, and it is not clear that he died at all.

Taguieff painstakingly retraces this affair and how it has been exploited against Israel. He fully supports the view of French media analyst Philippe Karsenty, who campaigned long and hard to expose the lies and inconsistencies of the report, was sued by France 2, and more than seven years later was vindicated in a French courtroom. By that time, however, it was too late; Muhammad al-Dura had become a Palestinian martyr and a rallying cry against Israel throughout the Arab and parts of the Muslim world. “The images of France 2…were used to justify the massacre of Jews killed because they were Jews.” Taguieff notes that the Pakistani Islamists who murdered American Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl seemed to justify the deed as revenge for the “martyrdom” of Al-Dura (297).

Can anything be done to reverse or at least combat the trend? Taguieff does not think so. The enemy is on the offensive, and as soon as a defense of Israel is mounted, a new accusation will be hurled at it. The only remedy would be for the Western world to understand a truth once expressed by Ayatollah Khomeini: “The fight against Israel is a war against the United States and Europe which will not end anytime soon” (544).[5]

This thought-provoking book makes for difficult reading, perhaps because it attempts to do too many things at once. It is noteworthy that in France, where Taguieff is a respected historian and researcher, the book met with deafening silence, not a single review appearing in the press. It may well be that the French media feel uncomfortable dealing with Taguieff’s accusations of blatant bias and willful distortion.

*     *     *

Notes

[1] Reviewed by this author in Jewish Political Studies Review, vol. 21, nos. 1-2 (Spring 2009).

[2] “Depuis le début du XX1ème siècle, deux thèmes d’accusation majeurs visent les Israéliens, les ‘sionistes’ et plus largement les Juifs: le ‘racisme’ – comme idéologie de la supériorité ethnique et comme ensemble de pratiques discriminatoires – et l’assassinat d’enfants non juifs.” Translated by the reviewer, 1.

[3] “L’islamisation du discours anti-juif…consiste à ériger, explicitement ou non, le jihad contre les Juifs en sixième obligation religieuse que doit respecter tout musulman.” Translated by the reviewer, 6.

[4] “Le nouveau programme anti-juif a pour objectif principal d’éliminer par tous les moyens l’Etat d’Israël.” Translated by the reviewer, 8.

[5] The quotation is from Yossef Bodansky, Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America (Rocklin, CA: Forum, 1999), xvi.

*     *     *

MICHELLE MAZEL, a graduate of Sciences Po – the Institute for Political Science – and the Paris Faculté de Droit, is a writer of both fictional and nonfictional works and currently resides in Jerusalem.

Michelle Mazel

Michelle Mazel is a graduate of Sciences Po – the Institute for Political Science – and the Paris Faculté de Droit. She is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction and lives in Jerusalem.