BAKED ON THE PREMISES
30 June, Paris
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I thought of all those young soldiers in the hot sun and dust of Gaza.
But the French media are only thinking of Palestinian hardship. The only difference between present coverage and the worst of the years 2000-3 is that the novelty has worn off. Every Israel-bashing distortion has been trotted out, but the obsession is muted by a lazy summertime-and-the-living-is-easy tone. As I remarked the other day, Gilad Shalit has lost his hyphen, he’s not French-Israeli, he’s a simple, I’d say a lowdown Israeli soldier, no different from his buddies who blew up the Gaza power station, the ones who bop in and out of Ramallah as if it were their mamma’s kitchen, the ones who are the cause of Palestinian bitterness, the ones whose fault it is that Résistants kidnap soldiers and kill colons. OK, maybe there was a thin trickle of sympathy on Monday for those baby-face boys, but it’s gone now. The helmets are covering the kepelech and masking the innocent faces, we’re back to the stereotypes, the big bad Israeli army. And now they’ve capture political figures! What nerve! According to Le Figaro the whole world is against these Israeli methods (no mention of George W. Bush who approves). Maybe Fatah and Hamas can’t get their act together, but the French media are, as usual, unanimous.
The Résistants who captured the colon (in Jerusalem…but of course they knew he was a colon, it was written all over his face) threatened to kill him unless the Israelis stopped their military operation. So when it turns out he was already dead before the operation began, how do the French media explain that one? Easy. They just don’t mention that insignificant detail. In an article on the Summer Rain operation, Gilles Paris of Le Monde managed to serve up the Gaza Beach libel as if it were the hottest mystery after the virgin birth. Did you know? Seven people were killed on a Gaza beach and Israelis and Palestinians still disagree on who dunnit.
The French media are clucking about the stunning Hamas about-face; the democratically elected Palestinian government has implicitly recognized the existence of __________ by signing this really neat document, the best peace plan yet! But those stubborn Israelis chose to invade Gaza instead of waiting for diplomacy to find the missing soldier. Like they found the missing colon?
The best media trick came from France 2, the home of Charles Enderlin of al-Dura fame. Charles could barely contain his joy in reporting on the intransigence of the Israeli Army he so loves to hate. And someone topped it off with the best mistranslation of the decade: Israeli leaflets dropped on Beit Hanun--famous for its Qassam launch sites--advised residents to stay in their homes because the village was going to be bombarded. When your corner NGO announces the massacre, it will be no surprise to French viewers!
The other day my thoughts were with Israeli soldiers toiling in the dust and the heat, copped up in tanks and airplanes, desperately searching for one precious kidnapped soldier, called up once more to defend their country, while here in the Parisian Diaspora we celebrate the 2nd annual festival of Jewish cultures. Israeli boys are in the tanks, and we are sitting in the courtyard of the 3rd arrondissement City Hall. If I remember correctly, last year’s festival covered yiddishkeit. The theme this year is “Sephardic Mosaic.” A beautiful spacious Arab tent at one end of the courtyard invites visitors to stretch out on silken couches or perch on damask poufs placed around large copper-tray tables. Mint tea and Oriental pastries are served. An Oriental dancer performs at the opposite end of the courtyard. The street in front of the city hall is blocked, decorated with palm trees and mountain laurel, and set out with comfortable deck chairs. It was all so convivial. What is there to not like? Should we cover our festival with black mourning drapes because 18 year-old Eliyahu Asheri z”l was shot in the head? And Corporal Gilad Shalit is in the hands of bloodthirsty jihadis? Isn’t this month-long festival proof of good relations between France and the Jews? Which would you rather for your sons, a tank in Gaza or a pouf in the courtyard?