French President Nicolas Sarkozy March 26, 2012.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy March 26, 2012. The country’s colonial spirit remains. Photo by AP
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The strong connection between Tel Aviv and Paris is older than the state. Poet Natan Alterman and art critic Haim Gamzu, poet and translator Avraham Shlonsky and the "Canaanites," all breathed France, years before the establishment of the state. And since the 1950s, this connection has been suffused with another dimension, which was not only represented by playwright Nissim Aloni, writer Amos Kenan or entertainer Yossi Banai.

The nonsense spewed out here since last week's murders in Toulouse sounds, among other things, like a recycling of that same friendship - from the time that Guy Mollet, France's Social-Democratic prime minister during the 1950s, oppressed the Algerians, and simultaneously joined Israeli leaders David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Dayan and Shimon Peres in order to capture the Suez Canal.

Reviyat Hamoadon joyfully sang at the time, "Long live France and Israel/ There's no longer any difference between us," to a tune by the Freres Jacques. The weapons flowed; the war in Algeria created a feeling of "We are both in the same boat" - Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser was the embodiment of evil here, and Algerian Ahmed Ben Bella, leader of the war of independence, was his twin brother there.

The colonialist war was waged by the French in the name of republicanism. There was no reckoning with the atrocities they caused, even years after its conclusion. It's enough to compare Hollywood's confrontation with the horrors of Vietnam, almost immediately after the war (Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now," for example ), and the prolonged French disregard of what they did to the Algerians, in order to understand why the most prominent vestige of the atrocity is Jean-Marie Le Pen, an officer in the torture apparatus there, a Holocaust denier and persecutor of Muslims. Atrocities that are committed by a society and are not subsequently filtered through national soul-searching are destined to give rise to war criminals as leaders.

French colonial spirit was never dead, despite Charles de Gaulle and his hostility toward the United States, his desertion of NATO and his strong opposition to the 1967 war. Since the 1990s, this colonial spirit has usually been turned inward, although in Libya it was given a great opportunity to seize control of the oil in the name of center and right-wing republicanism, which is defeating the left with its help, and is being borne on a wave of hatred for anything that is not "enlightened" - in other words, French or Western.

This is how France has become the leader of the ugly wave of anti-immigrant European racism. No, it's not only Le Pen. It's also President Nicolas Sarkozy. The man who served as interior minister, and in 2005 dubbed African antipoverty demonstrators as scum of the earth, was later elected to the presidency with the help of incitement. Of course, not before declaring with pathos in October 2007: "I was changed at Yad Vashem."

For years the colonialist spirit - which in Israel is called, with no little hypocrisy, "republicanism" - has served the French for the purpose of persecuting foreigners, even if they were born in France as its citizens. For quite some time the Jews have been serving as a fig leaf for this racism, because what is better than a Holocaust ritual for turning the "other" into a moral symbol in the war against the real others: Africans. Only here does the colonialist eternal fire meet up with the Israeli propaganda machine, which is fueled by a hatred of Muslims.

It is doubtful whether all the French, who went out of their way to mourn the dead, liked the rabbi's beard and his clothing and the skullcaps of the children in Toulouse. On the other hand, had the four lived in Israel, they would have served as good material for incitement on the issue of "female exclusion," since they studied in separate classes. The late Toulouse rabbi, Jonathan Sandler, would also probably have been harassed on the issue of "productivity" and IDF service.

The innocent victims found eternal rest in a media world where a xenophobic president takes the name Yad Vashem in vain and reaps political gains from cheap melodrama, along with our prime minister - who, even before the blood was washed from the pavement, hastened to top it, so that everyone would know: Anyone who condemns the killing of the innocent in Gaza identifies with the murderer of Jews from Al-Qaida. A covenant of blood-mongers.