Just consider what French President Nicholas Sarkozy did to Israel in the past month. After Paris endorsed the Palestinian membership at UNESCO, President Sarkozy said that the idea of a Jewish state is “silly,” and later branded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a liar” in a conversation with US President Barack Obama.
A few weeks earlier, Sarkozy ordered that school textbooks avoid the use of the word “Shoah” to describe the Holocaust, preferring the term “anéantissement”, a word that merely means annihilation.
Those familiar with Paris’ hostile attitude to Israel and the Jewish people in times of crisis are not surprised. It was just seven decades ago that France’s collaborationist Vichy regime, headed by Marshal Petain, enthusiastically took part in rounding up French Jews and turning them over to the Nazis. Some 110,000 French Jews were murdered in the gas chambers, a number that would have been far lower had it not been for the shameful manner in which the French cooperated with Hitler’s Final Solution.
In the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel’s life was threatened, France’s President Charles de Gaulle took a pro-Arab policy and instituted a weapons embargo on the Middle East. He also characterized the Jewish people “an elitist and domineering people.” This marked the first time since World War II that a head of state had directed an anti-Semitic remark at Israel and the Jewish people.
The French betrayal of Israel was intended to improve oil contracts with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In return for billions of dollars Paris sold a nuclear reactor to Baghdad, ignoring the fact that Saddam Hussein wanted an atomic bomb (only Israel’s bombing of the reactor at Osirak removed this danger from the world.)
French Foreign Minister Jean Sauvagnargues was the first Western official who met Yasser Arafat in Beirut, in 1974. A year later the PLO opened its first European office in Paris, with a charter calling for the elimination of Israel. In 1977 French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing granted asylum to Ayatollah Khomeini, who went on to become the founder of a genocidal Islamic state.
Paris has been the main promoter of the 1980 Venice Declaration in which the PLO was recognized by the European Union. The French continued to support Arafat even after he commenced his terrorist offensive against Israel, in September 2000.
During the Second Intifada, Jewish schools and synagogues were firebombed in France and the number of French Jews making Aliyah to Israel tripled - the highest figure since the Six-Day War. The prominent French Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld said that French Jews would be best off leaving the country.
In the midst of the Intifada, when Israelis were butchered en masse, French ambassador to London Daniel Bernard called Israel “that shitty little country Israel.” “Why should the world be in danger of World War III because of those people,” continued Mr. Bernard. It’s said to say, but the French seem to enjoy hating “those people.” The Jews.
Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of the book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism