By Nidra Poller, NEW ENGLISH REVIEW, reporting from Paris,
My brief article published in Tablet http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/179169/anti-israel-protestors-attack-paris-synagogues was based on information available at the time. When the July 14th holiday weekend ended I started to receive eyewitness accounts from Web sites, Jewish radio, and my own sources. It became apparent that the original Agence France Presse release, used by outlets worldwide, was concocted in lethal narrative format. Now we have videos of the “demonstration” from start to middle to semi-finish at Place de la Bastille that reveal its true nature. It was not a peaceful gathering slightly tarnished by a few rowdies at the last minute. [annotated links to videos below] Distinguished members of the Jewish community who were in the synagogue, including the Chief Rabbi of France, testified to the violence of the attempted intrusion. A [bad] translation of a text by a member of the congregation is posted on Tablet.
Interviewed on radio Communauté Juive, a peace & love novelist, Valerie Zeccati, eloquently described the mobs that fanned out from the Bastille into the nearby Marais: they were filled with murderous rage, they wanted to kill, they were thrilled by their own blood lust, the masses of demonstrators applauded them as they ran screaming, “We’re going to smash the Jews!” The “imam” on the sound truck declared “No provocation, and segued to a resounding allahou akhbar followed by other blood lust cries.
A widely circulated video shows the young men who were in fact protecting the synagogue from the mob that was trying to break in. I haven’t been able to find out who shot the film, but it is emblematic of the vision of the Hamas attack on Israel: the attackers have been edited out, making the Jews look like the aggressors. And that’s the purpose of the film.
One of the organizers of that stampede (they called it a demonstration) ingenuously explains that the contingent that went up rue de la Roquette [in fact they ran, screaming their heads off] were just on their way to a métro station. A member of a Jewish pro-Palestinian [and now pro-Hamas] organization claims the roughnecks from the Jewish Defense League started the fight. Four of them sitting on a bench somewhere along the route insulted the demonstrators and threw things at them. She doesn’t explain how they lured the mob of hundreds all the way up rue de la Roquette to the synagogue, 400 meters from the Place de la Bastille. Or why, once they got there, the mob decided to attack the synagogue instead of taking the métro.
These apologists have a lot of explaining to do. Why did the mob first try to break into the synagogues on Rue des Tournelles and Place des Vosges. They couldn’t get in because there were enough riot police there to stop them. How about the horde that chased a young couple walking their four month-old son in his stroller. They had to run for their lives. The harrowing tale is posted on the Metula News Agency Facebook page. Did the over-enthusiastic “pro-Palestinians” mistake them for Jewish Defense League adversaries?
The bobo weekly Nouvel Observateur ratcheted up and hammered out the revisionist version that, when you think of it, undermines the Agence France Presse whitewash. Yes, there was violence, but it was all the fault of the Jews. Subsequently in a France 24 debate a German freelancer with a steely smile took a ride with the revisionist version: not only are the Israelis merciless in Gaza, the Jews are persecuting pro-Palestinians in Paris.
Subsequent developments here in France should put that story out of commission. First, the government is not fooled by media tricks this time around. Particularly Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who until recently was Minister of the Interior. He knows what kind of volcano is boiling up in France, and what kind of people are behind these so-called pro-Palestinian demonstrations. His successor, Bernard Cazeneuve announced that local préfets [police commissioners]will deny permits to demonstrations that are likely to disturb the peace.
The demonstration scheduled for Saturday July 19th was banned. Unless I am mistaken, France is the only country that took this step. The organizers appealed, their appeal was rejected. So what did they do? Stay home and write op-eds? Send pizzas to the harassed citizens of Gaza? No, they proudly and publicly declared that they would demonstrate anyway. Loudly proclaiming their democratic right to march, they trampled on the duty incumbent on law-abiding citizens.
This time the stampede didn’t get far past its starting point in Barbès. Riot police hemmed them in [they are complaining about police brutality]. They weren’t rounded up and sent to jail for breaking the law. So they showed their appreciation by going wild, tearing up the asphalt and throwing chunks at the police; injuring 15. They set fire to cars, garbage cans, wooden pallets, and Israeli flags, smashed whatever was in reach, wreaked havoc for hours on end. And there were no Jewish Defense League boys to blame it on. An informative article in Le Point describes the assault on the Lariboisoière Hospital. The security guards were outnumbered [disproportionate force?], ran for cover. An elderly man shouted at the mob, “Are you crazy, that’s a hospital.” “It’s a Zionist hospital,” they shouted. But didn’t burn it down…this time around.
Today, they did a repeat performance in Sarcelles, known as little Jerusalem because a large contingent of the Sephardic Jews chased from the Maghreb settled there in public housing. For which they were grateful. From which many moved on to successful careers. And those who still live in neat and clean Sarcelles are constantly harassed by their Muslim neighbors in Gonesse. Many Jewish men have been attacked at the train station that serves the side by side communities.
Again, riot police were locked in battle for five hours while residents hunkered down in their homes.
How is the government going to deal with this flagrant and ever more violent disrespect? What will be the consequences for the New Anti-Capitalist Party, the NPA, the extreme radical far left anti-capitalist party that got about 1% of the vote in the last municipal elections, and suddenly appears as an organizer of these stampedes? In 2005 the insurrection was almost exclusively confined to the banlieues, on the other side of the péripherique [ring road]. This time it penetrates to the center of Paris and it is fired with murderous hatred of Jews. Many who fled the Maghreb say it reminds them of those times. Some observers are saying this looks like the early stages of “pogroms” but I think the appropriate term would be “farhud.” [“ violent dispossession” in Arabic, a reference to the 1941 Nazi–inspired jihad pogrom in Baghdad].
Jewish men defend the synagogue on rue de la Roquette
Le Nouvel Obs spins a blame the Jews tale for the battle at Don Isaac Abravanel synagogue
Huffington Post (France) report on the July 13th demonstration http://www.huffingtonpost.fr/2014/07/14/israel-palestine-manifestation-gaza-paris_n_5583340.html?utm_hp_ref=france
Report on the battle at Barbès