Thousands of books drenched in cooking oil – that is the latest exploit of the Zionist fanatics who regularly attack property and people in Paris and get away with it.
In the early afternoon of Friday, July 3, five men, mostly masked, stormed into the “Resistances” bookstore located in a quiet residential neighborhood of the 17th arrondissement in northwest Paris. To the startled women working in the shop, as well as two customers, they announcing that they were from the Jewish Defense League and began ripping books off shelves and tables, dousing them heavily with cooking oil, and then smashing four computers before leaving rapidly in a waiting vehicle.
The bookstore is owned and operated by Olivia Zemor and Nicolas Shashahani, who are also the leaders of the very active militant group CAPJPO-EuroPalestine (CAPJPO stands for Coordination des Appels pour une Paix Juste au Proche Orient). In addition to a wide collection of books on the Middle East and other subjects, including fiction, the bookstore has a reading room and a lending library, gives courses in English and Arabic, and possesses a modest but well-attended auditorium where authors are invited to speak.
Two and a half years ago, on December 7, 2006, a similar attack squad threw teargas grenades into the bookstore as a crowd was gathering to listen to the late Israeli author Tanya Reinhart and her companion, the Israeli poet Aharon Shabtai. On that occasion, Shashahani had to be treated for effects from the teargas but material damage was slight. This time, the entire shop is a shambles, with countless ruined books, and damage runs to tens of thousands of euros, according to Shashahani.
But, he stresses, this is only one in “hundreds of violent actions” carried out by the French version of the banned US Jewish Defense League in recent years. There is no reason to expect them to stop so long as they can count on indulgence on the part of French authorities and the silence of the mainstream media. The vandalism on the Resistances bookstore was reported by the French news agency AFP, but the dispatch was apparently carried only by the small tabloid Le Parisien and not by the major newspapers, much less by television. Usually, almost the only people who are informed about such events are in the politically active circles targeted for intimidation.
The general public remains ignorant of these aggressions, while it is regularly informed by television of even relatively minor acts of anti-Semitism – some of them imaginary (as the famous case a few years ago of the young woman who totally invented a story of being the victim of an “anti-Semitic assault” by blacks in the suburban commuter train in order to get attention from her family, and got the attention of everyone in France all the way up to the President of the Republic). Real “anti-Semitic acts” occur, but most are no more organized than school-yard insults. However, the publicity they receive serves to keep alive the notion that the very existence of Jews is under perpetual threat – the basic alibi used by the Jewish Defense League. The false claim that “the French government does nothing to protect Jews” is used as a pretext for aggressive “self-defense”.
As disciples of Meir Kahane, the JDL not only favors purifying an enlarged Eretz Israel of Arabs, but wants to bring the fight against Arabs and “Islamofascism” to France itself. Debate is not their style. After training in Israeli martial arts, they carry on their fight by physical means, attacking Arabs, Muslims and defenders of the Palestinian cause. The JDL is an informal group of a few hundred members, rather than a registered organization with a headquarters. The French police, adept at infiltrating every sort of political group, certainly must know who and where they are, but they seem never to be disturbed after one of their raids. Moreover, unless the aggressors identify themselves, victims cannot be sure whether they are being attacked by the LDJ or by Betar, an older Zionist youth organization founded back in 1929 by Vladimir Jabotinsky and close to Likud. Both use similar methods, and probably overlap, although the LDJ, as the more radical of the two, is said to be draining members from Betar.
In the rare cases when Zionist fanatics are actually arrested and put on trial, they are usually treated with uncommon indulgence. In December 2003, a group of pro-Palestinian students were violently attacked by the usual suspects. A Palestinian student suffered grave eye injuries. Faced with lackadaisical police, the students carried out their own investigation, leading to the conviction on September 16, 2004 of one Anthony Attal. He was given a suspended sentence of ten months.
LDJ or Betar members also have the advantage of a “sanctuary” – Israel. On October 25, 2006, a 68-year-old pro-Palestinian radical militant, Ginette Hess Skandrani, was attacked in her own home by three unknown men who beat her savagely, explaining only “you know why”. Hospitalized, her head wounds required several stitches. Last February 4, her aggressors were finally convicted and sentenced, but:
— one of them, Ruben Colleu, was sentenced to two years in prison, of which 18 months were suspended – but he had already fled to Israel.
— the second, Stevel Elie, was sentenced to three years in prison – but the French court had already given him permission to go to Israel “to do his military service” in Tsahal.
— Only the third, Mike Sfez, was still around. Like Colleu, 18 months of his two year sentence were suspended, and the remaining six months could be transformed into social work.
Only recently, large squads of presumed LDJ thugs have attacked theater-goers outside a benefit for children of Gaza and attacked persons of Arab appearance on their way to a meeting of diverse groups scheduled to discuss the “Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions” movement.
The LDJ has its apologists in the police. On June 5, 2006, the head of the small right-wing Christian union “Action Police CFTC”, Michel Thooris, praised the LDJ and Betar for “performing a public service mission by defending people and property”. He was not publicly reprimanded by his big boss, the minister of the Interior at that time, Nicolas Sarkozy.
The double standards of Sarkozy’s tough “law and order” policy are all too obvious. His ostentatious policy switch from a certain traditional French balance in the Middle East to strong support for Israel is only likely to encourage the LDJ in its feeling of impunity. This spring, a commercially successful author, Paul-Eric Blanrue, was unable to publish his book on “Sarkozy, Israel and the Jews” in France, and was obliged to find a publisher in Belgium. Still worse, the usual French distributor of his Belgian publisher refused to distribute the book in France. His press conference in Paris was unattended by any journalist and his book, which carefully documents Sarkozy’s policy of wooing Jewish support in France by aligning with Israel and attacking the “riffraff” in the suburbs, has been ignored by French reviewers.
Even though the market is saturated, there is always room in the media, however, for laments that France’s secular tradition is threatened by the “communitarianism” of… Muslims. The ideological and violent provocations of fanatic Zionists are rarely singled out as the main cause of this disturbing trend. Of course, France’s many militant intellectual Zionists do not resort to the methods of the LDJ and Betar. But the theme of Jewish victimhood, which is constantly present in schools, in cinema, in political discourse and in the media, provides a congenial atmosphere for the pathological violence of the Jewish militias in France, and for the indulgence with which they are treated.
The situation is scarcely improved by the extreme fragmentation of the Palestine solidarity movement in France – which can be seen as just one aspect of the endemic sectarianism of the French left. The various victims of LDJ or Betar violence – such as CAPJPO, Ginette Skandrani, the comedian Dieudonné, etc., etc. – are often not on speaking terms with each other, so that even if they all profess solidarity with Palestine, there is very little or no solidarity between them.
However, one may hope that the July 3 attack on the Resistances bookstore may arouse a broader protest than other recent attacks, quite simply because of the strong connotations of destroying books. A protest demonstration has been called for the evening of Wednesday, July 8, to demand that the government finally ban the JDL, just as it has already been banned in the United States and Israel. This will be an opportunity to show solidarity in resistance to the most active form of fascism in France today.
DIANA JOHNSTONE is author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions (Monthly Review Press). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org