Scott McConnell in the American Conservative writes, “France has since (the 1967 war) been little obsessed with Israel. Not hostile, not overly friendly. It is, now, and for the foreseeable future, obsessed with its relationship with Muslims, seemingly having been taken completely off guard by the fact that the decedents of the immigrants France took in to do low-wage jobs have turned into an often alienated, sometimes hostile, and very occasionally terrorist population.”
France historically of course was very much involved in the Mideast, and in some dimensions still is. French technicians were critical to the construction of Israel’s first reactor at Dimona, and thus indirectly to getting its nuclear weapons program off the ground. France was Israel’s major arms supplier up through 1967. Charles de Gaulle’s famous November 1967 press conference, stressing France’s split with Israel, marked a shift: the French president was disappointed that Israel had started the 1967 war, violating his counsel, and was disappointed that Israel showed itself set on seizing more land in 1956. His depiction of Jews as an “elite people, self-assured and domineering” was the subject of extensive criticism.
But that seemed to end it; France has since been little obsessed with Israel. Not hostile, not overly friendly. It is, now, and for the foreseeable future, obsessed with its relationship with Muslims, seemingly having been taken completely off-guard by the fact that the descendants of the immigrants France took in to do low-wage jobs have turned into an often alienated, sometimes hostile, and very occasionally terrorist population. Compared to this, France’s relationship with Israel is not complicated: Paris supports the two-state solution, and it will support a negotiation with Iran, after ostentatiously making sure that its concerns are taken into account in any negotiated settlement. But for French commentators, it’s not the biggest subject. Whether Marine Le Pen will sit down and have a drink with Madonna may be more interesting.
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