Blog post

Making no concessions to the Palestinian people’s rights

Written upon the initiative of Media Palestine, this collective piece was produced in reaction to Emmanuel Macron’s commemoration of the Vel d’Hiv round-up and first published in Mediapart. The authors denounce the position taken by the French president: "Macron is here following in the footsteps of all those who want to criminalise the struggles fighting for justice in Palestine and for Palestinians’ rights."    

31 July 2017

Monument to the victims of the Vel D'Hiv round-up, Paris. via Wikimedia Commons.

The Vel d’Hiv round up resulted in the arrest, deportation and death of thousands of French Jewish citizens. The commemoration of this event was scandalous in several regards. A single foreign head of government was invited to the ceremony, in the person of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This contributed to the despicable amalgam between Judaism and Zionism, and even gave the impression that in Emmanuel Macron’s eyes Jews — assumed to be necessarily all Zionists — are less French than everyone else…

Despite his formulaic and empty statements in favour of peace in the Middle East, in the course of one short sentence the French president proved that he totally sides with the Israeli hawks and their allies here in France. He is the first French head of state to adopt word for word the Israeli propaganda minister’s Hasbara line of argument in the fight against BDS: "we will make no concessions to anti-Zionism, because it is the reinvented form of anti-Semitism."

Thus we get a clear view of the people who play the card of "importing" the Israel-Palestine conflict into France, and in what interests. Indeed, they do so by instrumentalising the commemoration of a state crime, a mass racist crime of French stock. The Jews deported from the Vel d’Hiv in 1942 have nothing to do with the "conflict," and their memory belongs to no one. Their use, here, does nothing but feed a certain confusionism that questions Jewish French citizens’ true belonging — a confusionism which is very much fed by Netanyahu’s own presence — and thus feeds anti-Semitism.

The French president has also offered Netanyahu a political opportunity to whitewash his regime of destruction of the Palestinian people, and thus legitimize this regime. And this takes place on the back of the fate of the French Jewish victims of the round-up.

The colonizer-settlements are forgotten. The occupation is wiped away. The daily executions of Palestinians by the army, border police and settlers are denied, together with the Gaza tragedy, the thousands of political prisoners, the torture… This shows well enough how little Macron cares about the Palestinians’ suffering and their demands.

The deliberately falsified use of the notion of anti-Zionism in order to delegitimize the Palestine solidarity movement in general and the BDS France campaign in particular, reducing them to silence, is unworthy of the image Macron wants to give of a "well-read" president.

Even just a dictionary is enough for us to tell the difference between the critique of a political ideology and the regime that applies it, and the anti-Jewish racism that is anti-Semitism. Macron is here following in the footsteps of all those who want to criminalise the struggles fighting for justice in Palestine and for Palestinians’ rights.

Sacrificing the Palestinians’ rights to imperialist projects for the Middle East was the policy of the great French and British colonial empires. From this point of view, we are on the move [En marche] backwards… That is at least what the near-concomitant invitations of Trump and Netanyahu to France upon two highly symbolic dates [i.e. following Trump’s visit to Paris on Bastille Day] would suggest. Are we seeing the emergence of a new alliance that again dons the old habits of the neocons, which we thought had fallen out of fashion? Here we are far from Macron’s pretense of novelty.

Doing something new — the only novelty today — would consist of finally putting national rights into practice, and in particular the rights of the Palestinian people.

Amidst the sombre political context that is taking shape with the advent of Macron, a landscape characterised by the removal of our social rights and our civil liberties, one further freedom is now to be stolen from us. Namely, the freedom to fight against colonialism and support the rights of the Palestinian people. But we will defend this freedom, like all the others they want to take away from us. We will defend it by strengthening our solidarity and thus our support for the call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. We will do so until it complies with international law and the universal principles of human rights.


Ahmed Abbes, CNRS research director

Zahra Ali, academic, SOAS

Verveine Angeli, Union Syndicale Solidaires

Mounia Benaili, France insoumise local councilor in Juvisy Sur Orge

Tarek Ben Hiba, FTCR

Annick Coupé, ATTAC France

Sonia Dayan Herzbrun, Sociologist

Christine Delphy, feminist militant and sociologist

Driss El Kerchi, ATMF

Mireille Fanon Mendès France, Fondation Frantz Fanon, expert at the UN

Gisèle Felhendler, Sortir du Colonialisme

Eric Hazan, Editor

Armelle Laborie, Co-author of ‘Un Boycott légitime’ (La Fabrique)

Madjid Messaoudene, an elected representative in Saint Denis

Catherine Samary, Economist, Balkans specialist, alter-globalisation militant

Michèle Sibony, Union Juive Française pour la Paix

Eyal Sivan, filmmaker, co-author of ‘Un Boycott légitime’ (La Fabrique)

[book-strip index="1" style="display"]


Reflections on Anti-Semitism
Since the beginning of the War on Terror, Israel has become increasingly salient to imperial strategy and ever more aggressive in its policies toward the Palestinians. In this context, a key ideolo...
Beyond Chutzpah
In Beyond Chutzpah, Norman Finkelstein moves from an iconoclastic interrogation of the new anti-Semitism to a meticulously researched exposé of the corruption of scholarship on the Israel–Palestine...
Ten Myths About Israel
In this groundbreaking book, the outspoken and radical Israeli historian Ilan Pappe examines the most contested ideas concerning the origins and identity of the contemporary state of Israel. This h...
Palestine Speaks
For more than six decades, Israel and Palestine have been the center of one of the world’s most widely reported yet least understood human rights crises. In Palestine Speaks men and women from the ...
Blaming the Victims

Blaming the Victims

Since the 1948 war which drove them from their heartland, the Palestinian people have consistently been denied the most basic democratic rights. Blaming the Victims shows how the historical fate of...
The Least of All Possible Evils
The principle of the ‘lesser evil’—the acceptability of pursuing one exceptional course of action in order to prevent a greater injustice—has long been a cornerstone of Western ethical philosophy. ...
Twilight of History
On its publication in 2009, Shlomo Sand’s book The Invention of the Jewish People met with a storm of controversy. His demystifying approach to nationalist and Zionist historiography provoked much ...
The Returns of Zionism
In this original and wide-ranging study, Gabriel Piterberg examines theideology and literature behind the colonization of Palestine, from the latenineteenth century to the present. Exploring Zionis...
Separate and Dominate
Feminist Christine Delphy co-founded the journal Nouvelles questions féministes with Simone de Beauvoir in the 1970s and became one of the most influential figures in French feminism. Today, Delp...
The Case for Sanctions Against Israel

The Case for Sanctions Against Israel

In July 2011, Israel passed legislation outlawing the public support of boycott activities against the state, corporations, and settlements, adding a crackdown on free speech to its continuing bloc...
Letters to Palestine
Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s seven-week bombing campaign and ground invasion of Gaza in the summer of 2014, resulted in half a million displaced Gazans, tens of thousands of destroyed home...
The Idea of Israel
In this groundbreaking work, Ilan Pappe looks at the continued role of Zionist ideology. The Idea of Israel considers the way Zionism operates outside of the government and military in areas such a...
The Invention of the Land of Israel

The Invention of the Land of Israel

What is a homeland? When does it become a national territory? Why have so many people been willing to die for such places throughout the twentieth century? What is the essence of the Promised Land?...

Filed under: bds, france, israel-palestine