By R. Blum
Prominent Jews expressed outrage this week over new French Foreign Ministry “software” that lists the residency of French citizens who made aliyah as “Israel/Palestinian Territories” in their passports.
“Grotesque” is how Nidra Poller – an American Jewish intellectual who has been living in France for more than four decades — described the move. “French citizens living in Israel have to move over and make room on their passports for those Palestinian territories that the French pretend to cherish,” she told The Algemeiner.
Author, most recently, of The Black Flag of Jihad Stalks La Republique, Poller placed the labeling of passports in a broader context of French policy in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“France voted in favor of giving the Palestinians the Temple Mount, the Kotel (Western Wall), the tombs of the Patriarchs. At the World Health Organization summit, French representatives joined in the call to investigate Israel for so-called ‘abuses of mental, physical and environmental health.’”
According to Poller — who referred to Friday’s Paris Peace Summit, which coincided with major floods, as a “wash-out” — “virtually nobody in France really cares about Palestinians and Palestinian territories. But they come in handy to give a slap in the face to French Jews who have immigrated to Israel but still keep their French nationality.”
US-based French-Jewish artist Ron Agam was equally forceful in his objections to the passport-labeling.
“Once more, the French diplomatic corps is attacking Israel’s legitimacy in a very aggressive manner that highlights the pro-Arab and old antisemitic attitude of most of its functionaries,” Agam told The Algemeiner. “Supporters of Israel are vastly outnumbered at the Quai d’Orsay [home of the French Foreign Ministry] and the ministry should be fought. The submission to Qatari and other Arab interests must be called out vociferously in every way possible. They are not impartial when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – something that has been illustrated recently by their voting at the UN and public displays of enmity towards Israel.”
Agam said he believes that “President Francois Hollande and other French politicians and citizens are friendly and sympathetic to Israel.” But, he questioned rhetorically, “How long will they remain so, when Arab interests and 10 million French Muslims exert such enormous influence on a country that is struggling to regain its importance in a world that is losing its moral and ethical responsibility?”
In addition, he said, “Antisemitism in France today is propelling a majority of Jews to question their future in the country,” asserting that “Jews all over the world will have no choice but to reciprocate, and make the Quai d’Orsay aware of their displeasure, in no uncertain terms, because it is very susceptible to hard lines taken by powerful Jewish interest groups, especially those in the United States.”
Such protestations were lodged publicly by French parliamentarian Meyer Habib, reported to be a close confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s.
Habib — who in December threatened to call on French Jews to halt their plans to make aliyah unless Israel eases exam restrictions on immigrant doctors, dentists, nurses and lawyers – said he was “amazed” about the new labeling for French nationals in Israel. He lashed out at the French Foreign Ministry, which he said is “too often guided by a strong pro-Arab, anti-Israel bias. This case is a new blow to all Franco-Israelis and friends of Israel, who view this as a desire to question the sovereignty and legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state.”
Habib announced that he would be sending a letter to the Foreign Ministry to protest.
Meanwhile, however, the outgoing president of French Jewry’s umbrella organization CRIF, Roger Cukierman, tweeted on Monday: “I was assured by the Elysee that the new IT system of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was abandoned. The French of Israel will be clearly identified as residents of Israel, not Israel/Palestinian territories. ”
Though, apparently, this indicates that the outcry against the new labeling of the passports of Franco-Israelis has had the desired effect – since the passport stamp was instated on June 1, and is now purportedly being discontinued, Agam said that until official confirmation from Hollande is issued, “We still have to be on the attack.”
There are an estimated 220,000 French Jews living in Israel – 8,000 of whom made aliyah in 2015 alone. Another 10,000 are expected to arrive by the end of 2016.
(c) 2016 The Algemeiner Journal