PARIS (Dec. 21)
Prime Minister Georges Pompidou conceded here today that France’s policy in the Middle East “coincides only partially” with French public opinion, but said that it is inspired by French self-interest. In an interview published in France Soir, a popular evening daily, M. Pompidou said he believed that President de Gaulle’s widely-criticized press conference remarks on Israel and the Middle East, on November 27, were “misinterpreted,” But, he stated, this will “correct itself” and does not need to be explained by the Government.
The Gaullist daily, La Nation, today blamed the French press for the negative reaction to de Gaulle’s remarks, and said that it was being used by opposition parties for internal politics.
The remarks in question were made in the course of a lengthy statement on the Middle East by Gen. de Gaulle before an audience of 1,000 journalists, diplomats and political figures who packed the Elysee Palace on November 27 for one of the French leader’s rare press conferences. In the course of his statement, de Gaulle not only launched a political attack on Israel, which he called “a war-like state bent on expansion,” but impugned the Jews “through the ages” as “an elite people, sure of itself and dominating” who provoked “ill will in certain countries at certain times.”
It was de Gaulle’s attack on the Jewish people, coupled with his political diatribe against Israel, that touched off a storm of protest from prominent Jews and non-Jews all over the world, and especially in French academic, political and intellectual circles.