Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

1 Sivan 5765 - June 8, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Antisemitic Arab Appointed Minister in French Government

by Arnon Yaffeh, Paris

In addition to its criticism of the new French government and its head, Dominique de Villepin, the Jewish community is now also concerned over the ministerial appointment of a controversial suburban Arab activist who supports the antisemitic Euro Palestine Party. Azuz Baqaq drew all the camera lenses when he set out on Monday decked in a new suit and stepped into the official car he received at Matignon Palace, the Paris residence of French prime ministers, after Villepin and Chirac appointed him to draw the votes of suburban Arabs. The only media outlet to report this story was Al Jazeera.

Chirac opened a new ministry for him, called the Ministry for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities, whose task is to integrate Arabs from the suburbs into French society. Jewish intellectuals familiar with Baqaq said they do not trust him at all and many fear that he will take advantage of the post.

Baqaq indirectly supported attacks on botei knesses and Jews in the suburbs by denying that they were antisemitic. Instead of denouncing the acts he defended the attackers, claiming they were victims of racism and that wealthy Jews stir envy.

During the election campaign for the European Parliament, Baqaq supported the Euro Palestine list, which spread antisemitic propaganda at election gatherings. "Euro Palestine raises political awareness in the Arab suburbs," he said at the time. The appointment of such an extremist reflects the increasing Arab influence in French politics, fears of Arabs and the personal leanings of Villepin, who appointed him assistant while serving as Interior Minister.

Attorney Gage, the only Jew in the outgoing government, was forced out and had to step down in shame when her Ministry for Victims' Rights was dismantled on Friday. She was considered overly friendly to Israel and to the Jewish community, while still failing to bring Chirac Jewish support.

The exchange of ministers included a small drama and a revolt against President Chirac. Outgoing ministers are always cast out in shame among cardboard boxes piled up in the courtyard of the palaces. At the Defense Ministry diplomats protested vocally against the dismissal of Foreign Minister Michel Barnier. The appointment of Philippe Douste-Blazy, an honest, pro-West politician without experience in French foreign policy, was received with opposition because of this. Barnier himself parted with the diplomats bitterly, saying, "My dismissal is a beheading of the French Foreign Ministry."

Barnier held Chirac responsible for France's loss of standing in Europe and is trying to push himself forward following the defeat in the referendum on the European Constitution. "The days have passed when France could impose its views on its European partners," said Barnier. "From now on it will have to persuade them. The result of the referendum is proof we will not be able to advance our plan for the unification of Europe without the citizens."

Chirac ignored him and left for Berlin to coordinate with Chancellor Schroeder on how to disregard the no-vote on the constitution in France and Holland and to continue to implement it. "The constitution is dead but not buried," said observers in Brussels following the meeting in Germany.

France and Germany saw the constitution as a means of perpetuating their control over the European Union. Chirac and Schroeder called on Europeans to go forward with its implementation and disregard the no-vote at present. They are seeking to at least retain the appointment of a president and foreign minister to run European policy as a single bloc and are willing to annul the liberal sections on a free market in goods and the mobility of the workforce.

European Union member nations are taking advantage of the opportunity to release themselves from the yoke of French and German control over Europe. The Economist held Chirac responsible for the crisis. "The source of the problems in France is not Europe, not global economics, not the far right and not the far left — but Chirac, who should have learned from de Gaulle and headed for home."

The crisis in Europe is calling the euro into question. The commissioner of the Central Bank of Europe is ignoring charges that the bank is responsible for the economic withdrawal and the political crisis by holing up in his tower in Frankfurt, and refusing to reduce the interest rate. "The euro is a stable and strong currency. Don't worry. I'm preserving your buying power," he said. The Italian Welfare Minister said Italy plans to abandon the euro and reinstate the lira.


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