French Jewish Union for Peace English statement (fixed):

An open letter to the editor in chief of Rue 89, Mathieu Deslandes, for his coverage of the July 13 protest.


Having read your treatment of the protest this afternoon and having been there, I wish to share what I experienced. The demonstration in support of Gaza, which was held this afternoon, was GREAT.

Almost 15,000 people turned out, 8,000 according to the police; a diverse young crowd with many women and men. On Line 4, the Métro was filled with youth determined and happy to find an outlet to express their support and solidarity with “Courageous Gaza” – as one of the Arabic slogans put it – and their anger at the organized disinformation scandal. And I admit that I was also carried away with emotion at the Métro stop, plunging into this patchwork crowd, which came, as I, to say “stop the massacre.” In one second, I stopped feeling alone, as I had in the past week before screens, radios and newspapers.

I joined the small procession of the French Jewish Union for Peace, in an appriopriate place behind the BDS France faction, and saw a number of moving scenes: one of our supporters, a pretty redheaded woman who has actively campaigned with others for the rights of foreigners in France – was so attracted to the FJUP badge that she wore it and stopped for those who wanted to take a photograph and embrace. Madame, you can't know well enough what you have done, it's so important that you were there. You are a symbol of peace. This is not a story about religion. It is not about Jews and Muslims.

I neither saw nor heard a word against Jews, not a poster, not a slogan, nothing. And I surveyed the demonstration several times, in my usual search for friends and to gauge the crowd. But you, the Rue 89 “journalist” – we must really find another name for people who pretend to do this beautiful profession in such a manner – saw and heard what you needed to see and hear. You bring evidence, targeted and calibrated, curiously making charges because we know the defendants are here, do we not? I loved the one that alleged “death to Askhenazis!!” This had to have been a Sephardic group of infiltrators. Oh excuse me, the same people were yelling “Allahu Akbar.” There (and this is easy), beware, the word is out: it was a religious procession, where people cried “Allahu Akbar” and “La ilaha'illa allah.” A woman who was a bit shy asked me to translate...of course, Madame, with pleasure: God is Great and there is no God but God – the profession of monotheistic faith is a real crime in this country. Sometimes I want to translate: death to fascists, but I restrain myself. Bloody hell [ED: Bon Sang, literally: good blood] (another religious expression, you know. It's the blood of Christ to which this alludes) brainwashing works in this country. If people of faith need to refer to their faith to protest a crime does this absolve the criminal? Is this unbearable? Is it dangerous? Muslim friends explained to me the idea, in Islam, that one must not submit to anyone but God, who will liberate mankind from all other subjugation. Is this not a wonderful idea? That men and women, often crushed and dominated by detestable human powers should only submit to God? I find it touching and beautiful. It's an affirmation of freedom from under insubordination.

Yes, of course there were, as you reported (we must really find another word for it) slogans: Hamas resistance, Jihad resistance, I would have loved to have added a PFLP Resistance. But is this not true? They resist every day and with laughable means against a strong and violent army that has besieged their cities and camps (two-thirds of the population of Gaza are refugees., chased out of their homes in 1948, and still hunted today) for seven years. For seven years, the bombardments have killed their families. The army has occupied and stolen their lands, and they refuse to submit. They're fighting for liberty, for national liberation, and the independence of Palestine. And even against eradication pure and simple, declared by Israel, for resisting this! Yes, Hamas and Jihad militants are resisting the occupation, as all Palestinian political groups are, and even if my heart is to the left, I respect them. Especially when the agenda is their dehumanization, their demonization, and their eradication at all cost. Wouldn't anyone – white Christians, atheists on the left, or the right wing limousine set – have a title as beautiful as resistance fighter? But who do you take yourself for? Do you believe you descended from Jupiter's head (another God, but a white one so it doesn't matter). Racist is no longer an insult in this country, but a norm infused today from the highest levels of state, and I can no longer use the term. You're a poor type, perhaps.

And the best accusation for last: protest thugs tried to attack the Synagogue de la Roquette? And you cite, without flinching, a “testimony of the JDL.” Here is the announcement of the assembly you mention, called by the JDL in support of Israel before the Synagogue de la Roquette, with the eloquent title “Keep Calm and Kill Hamas.” Curiously, when a rally for war crimes takes place in front of or inside a Synagogue, the injection of religion in politics does not shock you, nor does it even register. It requires no commentary from you. It is sufficient to insinuate that the demonstration was antisemitic, that you need for your cause: silence about crimes in Gaza, of which you say nothing.

So I'll tell you what I saw, me, a poor Jewish infidel (there is no God but God) at this protest: on the Boulevard Beaumarchais, right near the Chemin Vert metro stop, four or five JDL types perched on a bench, completely surrounded and protected by two rows of riot cops, throwing projectiles and insults at the crowd. Cops and officials begged the crowd to not lose its cool and respond to provocations – it's what they're waiting for. And, of course, as crowds dispersed, there were fights at the entrance of the Synagogue de la Roquette, as expected, I dare say.

Above all, I also heard the crowd cry, from the Barbes to the Bastille:
“French Media, tell the truth.”
“The French people want the truth.”

And I was proud today of those people there, my people.

Michèle Sibony
13 juillet 2014

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