TORONTO (May. 8)
Baron Alain de Rothschild, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Organizations in France (CRIF), spoke out vigorously against the demonstrably pro-Arab bias of the government of President Valery Giscard d’Estaing but indicated, in an exclusive interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency here, that so far there has been little the organized French Jewish community has been able to do to change the direction of French policy in the Middle East.
“With all our Interventions within the government’s sphere and within political parties, the foreign policy of France has not changed, “he said. He also observed that “There are few other parties of government in France whose policy differs very much from that of the President.”
Rothschild, who was attending the triennial assembly of the Canadian Jewish Congress here, took sharpest issue with what he saw as “the lock of balance” in French policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict. While Giscard has publicly endorsed Palestinian “self-determination,” which is seen as meaning nothing less than a Palestinian state in the territories now occupied by Israel, the French government has been silent “towards the Camp David agreements and the efforts of peace manifested by Israel, Egypt and the United States,” he said.
FRANCE IS PLAYING SOLO FIDDLE
“It would be a catastrophe if France should recognize a Palestinian state on the West Bank of the Jordan or lead the European community members in a campaign at the United Nations which would ultimately do away with Resolutions 242 and 338. But nothing will astonish me, given the fact that France is playing solo fiddle among the Western nations,” Rothschild said. He noted in that context that the French Ambassador was the only Western envoy present at the May Day celebrations in Moscow.
“We were shocked, in France, that our President has watched Israel from Jordan territory instead of visiting Israel and we have reacted accordingly when we remarked that all the sacrifices which Israel has mode for peace, such as giving up the Sinai peninsula and its only source of oil, has been totally passed under silence by the French government. The President has given the impression of parti-pris which means that he has made up his mind in respect of Israel, ” the Baron said.
He said, “I couldn’t tell whether there is such a thing as a Jewish vote, but for the second time in recent history, the choice of the Jew in French politics is motivated by a series of elements, one of which is the Israeli policy of the French government.” But he indicated that in this respect, French Jews have little choice.
As a matter of fact, Rothschild noted, at the last Jewish demonstration, “12 Hours for Israel,” which was held April 27 in Paris, “the (opposition) Socialist leader, Francois Mitterand, was booed by the Jewish audience for having declared that he met with (PLO chief) Yasir Arafat recently and shook his hand,” Rothschild said.
NO DANGER OF ANTI-SEMITISM
He stressed that French Jews enjoy all the rights and privileges of any citizens and “there is no known discrimination against the Jews as such.” He said when such tendencies appear, “we as Jews who openly declare our Jewishness, say openly and shamelessly what we think of it. And our openness meets with more respect from the French government and French political parties than if we would conceal our feelings.”
With respect to anti-Semitism in France, Roths child stated: “I would not say that such a danger exists at the present moment. Such distinguished writers as Bernard Henry Levy, Andre Glucksman, Shmuel Trigano, Annie Kriegel and others are fighting against intellectual terrorism. In my opinion, the anti-Semites and racism are but a negligible minority.
Rothschild reiterated that French Jews are totally committed to Israel. “We are all Zionists, unconditional supporters of the State of Israel, but we are not unconditional supporters of this or that government” of Israel, he said.