LONDON (Aug. 22)
A comprehensive study which finds that a concerted Arab propaganda effort in France has been backed by both leftwing and rightwing elements and which warns that “Arab propagandists will intensify their methods,” has been released by the World Jewish Congress.
The commissioned study, issued by the WJC research and publications unit, the Institute of Jewish Affairs, shows that France’s Middle East policies and its position within the European community were key factors in its emergence as “ideal territory for the propaganda of the Arab states involved in the Middle East conflict.”
Among official Arab bodies, the PLO office in Paris is cited as the most important source of anti-Israel opinion. The PLO office, the report notes, has concentrated an building up its press contacts to the point that “whenever events in the Middle East attract the attention of journalists, the PLO office is one of the places to which they go for information and news.”
Apart from the specifically Arab organizations, run by Arabs, the Associations of French Arab Solidarity spread the Arab cause through French sympathizers. They publish numerous magazines, provide material aid for the Palestinians, and organize demonstrations with the aim of becoming centers of media attention.
The study shows that some of the organizers of Arab propaganda groups have strong extreme rightwing political links. The Committee for Peace in the Middle East, for example, “which is widely believed to be financed by Iraq” is headed by two individuals associated with the extreme right, including one, Gilles Munier, who was “an active neo-Nazi.”
On the left, two important anti-Israel political forces are “Temoignage Chretien” (Christian Witness) and the French Communist Party. The study says the future aims of Temoignage Chretien are two-fold: “As a Christian movement, it will try to break the silence, observed till now by the clergy on the Middle East question, and as a leftwing movement, it will try to bring the Socialist Party round to a less favorable position towards Israel.”
A limiting factor however, stems from the presidency of Francois Mitterrand, “whose policy is much more Israel oriented than that of his predecessors,” the report said.