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French Jews and Non-jews Concerned over Pompidou’s Chicago Statement on Israel

Serious concern was expressed here today that President Georges Pompidou’s reported remark in Chicago that Israel was using racial and religious ties abroad to further its policies might cause latent anti-Semitism in France to “break out in the open.” Such fears were expressed today in both Jewish and non-Jewish circles. Editorials in two leading newspapers, Le Figaro and Le Monde, implied that M. Pompidou’s remarks may unwittingly have created a “Jewish problem” in France. Some commentators here said that whatever the President’s intent, his words might be interpreted in a way to give anti-Semitism in this country “an aura of respectability.”

In an editorial titled “Pompidou and the Jews”, Le Monde rapped the demonstrators. But it also deplored the President’s words “which risk causing, even in France, polemical discussions on the racial and religious origins of individuals which, to say the least, will not contribute to national unity.” Le Monde, however, agreed with M. Pompidou’s analysis that “Israel is a state apart which uses and abuses various pressure groups throughout the world which are formed by religious and racial affinity.” Le Figaro warned that “behind anti-Zionism lurks the ever present anti-Semitism.”

Most French newspapers applauded President Nixon’s unscheduled flight to New York yesterday to attend a dinner in honor of President Pompidou and were delighted that he apologized to the French leader for the demonstrations. But the press generally pointed out that demonstrations were a sacred part of American democracy. Several newspapers objected to M. Pompidou’s characterization of the demonstrations against him as “a stain on the face of America.” They noted that demonstrations against French Mideast policy were expected before the President undertook his journey and that heads of state are expected to exhibit coolness in face of such outbreaks. The right-wing daily L’Aurore observed pointedly that “American Presidents know how to appear stoic even when pelted with tomatoes.” The paper also remarked that when President Pompidou criticized Israel he should bear in mind that “calls for a holy war did not come from the temples of Jerusalem but from the mosques of Cairo.”

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