“Israel’s triple fiasco”: Read francophone press reactions on Flotilla

A Freedom Flotilla ship @freegaza.org Flickr stream

By Elif Kayi

ROUND UP. Most writers in Francophone press in France, Belgium and Switzerland criticized Israel heavily for the attack on Flotilla, while others raised questions related to roles played by Turkey, Hamas and US.

Here is a list of links and summaries for opinion pieces published in the last 24 hours.

A fiasco for Israel?

In its editorial of June 2nd, the largest French daily newspaper Le Monde headline is “A triple fiasco for Israelis”.

It said “Firstly a human drama: A dozen of Turkish activists have been shot and several others were wounded by the Israeli special forces (…) The diplomatic fiasco is all the more so spectacular because the Israeli commandos took control of the flotilla in international waters (…) Finally the fiasco is political. More than ever it reveals the absurdity and the injustice of a blockade imposed to a territory already miserable”.

Tactical mistake

On his blog, Jean-Dominique Merchet, journalist at the daily center-left newspaper Libération and specialist of military issues, quoted an article of the Israeli journalist Ron Ben Yishai (who is also a character in the animation movie « Valse with Bashir »). Regarding the intervention of the Israeli commandos, Merchet concluded by writing: “Bad evaluation of the situation, tactical mistake: Everything was there for a fiasco and a drama”.

State terrorism?

Edwy Plenel, director of the online newspaper Mediapart and former chief-editor of Le Monde, strongly criticized the reaction of Israel and called it : “state terrorism that does not care about any law nor human principle. This act of piracy committed by the Israeli army enhanced suddenly the imbalance of a world, which is already very unstable. From the Eastern to the Western world, it brings us at the edge of a sinkhole, an abyss with unpredictable consequences”.

(Note that there is no free access to the complete article of Mediapart)

Israel abandoned by the Western world?

Pierre Razoux

The center-left newspaper Libération published an interview with Pierre Razoux, author of the book “Tsahal, new history of the Israeli army” (Tsahal, nouvelle histoire de l’armée israélienne) and Research Adviser at the NATO Defense College in Rom. Razoux, who also recalled that he was speaking on his own name, tried to moderate the reactions after the attack: “Beyond the war on press releases from all sides, one has to be very cautious about the facts. We do not have all the elements and we do not know the other side of the cards”.

Razoux tried to analyze the situation of Israel and its relations with the Western world: “Israel feels isolated, even let down by the Western countries on issues that it cares a lot about: Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Hezbollah, and even the non-proliferation treaty since the United States have expressed themselves in favor of a Free nuclear weapons Middle-East (…) Israel therefore tries to reaffirm its position on the international stage and it wants to remain master at home”.

Flotilla: Also a media operation?

For the Jerusalem correspondent of the daily conservative newspaper Le Figaro, Adrien Aulmes, the Flotilla was more than only a humanitarian operation. “Beyond the humanitarian operation it was a media-related operation. The idea was to clash with the Israelis and to show at this occasion the Israeli policy on Gaza”, Aulmes wrote.

No more David and Goliath

David and Goliath

On his blog, the journalist and former director of the leftist-conservative weekly magazine Marianne, Jean-François Kahn, developed the idea that the image of a “weak” Israel has changed: “The Jewish State should know how modern wars have turned above all into wars of images. Psychological wars (…) What happened on Sunday’s night put a definitive end to the charming myth of the child David opposed to the giant Goliath and promoted a completely inversed myth of the hyper ogre crunching helpless little Tom Thumbs. Whether this is right or wrong, in a case like in the other, finally does not matter.”

Israel helping Hamas

In its editorial of June 1st in the daily Belgian francophone newspaper Le Soir, the journalist Loos Baudouin supported the idea that Israel’s violence helps Hamas: “When the European Deputy Véronique De Keyser says that ‘the Israelis are possessed by a madness which has nothing rational any more, they go towards the abyss’, she raises a question which at first sight might be disturbing. Who cannot see that this affair, among all others, plays in favor of the Islamists of Hamas…?”.

Simplification of the conflict

On his blog on the online newsblog Rue89, that was created by former journalists in Libération, the journalist Hugues Serraf is disturbed by the high importance granted to the attack on the Flotilla compared to other political events in the world: “Everywhere in the world conflicts start or keep going, which give the Israeli-Palestinian question the appearance of a schoolyard fight, whether it is about the dimension of the concerned territories or the number of victims”. He also recalled that Egypt is part of the blockade on Gaza and criticized the simplification of the conflict: “Even the fact that Gaza is in fact the object of a Israeli-Egyptian blockade does not interest anyone any more because one would have to raise the debate towards a complexity, that the ‘public opinion’ does not care of”.

What about the Jewish Diaspora?

On the newsblog Rue89, the orientalist and intellectual Esther Benbassa, who was one of the signatories of the “Call for Reason” (that was published at the beginning of May in the daily newspaper Le Monde / English version: http://www.jcall.eu/?lang=en), published a tribune called “We, Jews of the Diaspora, say no to the erratic behavior of Israel”: “When one forgets its past, there is no future possible. Israelis have forgotten their past and push the Jewish Diasporas to do the same in the name of the unconditional love that Israel requires from them”.

For the journalist and politician Jean-François Kahn (who was mentioned also earlier), some Israeli extreme-rightist politicians are also propagating anti-Semitic resentment. In the weekly magazine Marianne he wrote: “Was is anti-Semitism all about? A discourse, an ideology, an action, which tend to give of the Jew a scandalous and hateful image. In this sense some –like the Israeli Le Pen, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Avigdor Lieberman- do behave unconsciously as anti-Semites when they give from their own community or their own people the image, completely false, that the worst antisemite crooks keep on preparing them? Do they not serve on a plate, to Hamas and Hezbollah.

Prior to the Flotilla attack, the journalist and author Jean Daniel, had recalled in the weekly magazine Le Nouvel Observateur on a Forum organized in Tel Aviv around the “Call for Reason”: “The most important remark to make is that it has been shown that the Jewish communities are not monolithical and are not bound by an obligation of solidarity with the leaders, no matter who they are and what they do, of the Jewish State. On the contrary. The ones who care the most for the existence and the security of Israel will be alarmed by some behaviors they see as suicidal and opposed to the mission of the pioneers of the Jewish State”.

Turkey’s new role?

The role of Turkey in the Middle East has been brought up in the French press. In his daily radio chronic on France Culture, the journalist Alexandre Adler spoke of “a catastrophe for Israel” but further raised the question of the role of Turkey: “It is also a big turning point for Turkey because even though there were European deputies, Palestinian activists and various people on the flotilla, it has been armed and conceived in Turkey by an Islamist foundation, which is on the right or on the left –it does not matter here- of the ruling party, the AKP.

See also: Eurotopics

See also: La Turquie, nouveau héraut de la rue arabe, by Pierre Puchot (no free access to the complete article)

Towards the end of the Gaza blockade?

In the daily francophone Swiss newspaper Le Temps, the journalist Luis Lema does not think the United States will support the end of the blockade: “The ‘bloody’ Israeli mistake does not matter, neither does the anger of Turkey and the Arab world, nor the fate of the civil population of Gaza. The perspective to act for the end of the blockade in a pre-election context would be necessary perceived in the United States as a sign of help granted by the Democrat president to a dangerous terrorist organization [Hamas]”.

A role for Europe?

In its video editorial on the website of the weekly magazine L’Express, the journalist Christophe Barbier underlined the role that the European Union should act : “The first step is to restart the diplomatic machine. It means to start with a complete and transparent enquiry that will be carried out by the right instance. And this instance will not be the UN, it has to be the European Union. Here is an opportunity for Europe, that tries to strengthen its diplomacy, to show that it is possible to move towards the active phase.”

Have your say and tell us do you think Israel deserves criticism? And why or why not?

2 Comments

Filed under Middle East

2 responses to ““Israel’s triple fiasco”: Read francophone press reactions on Flotilla

  1. dan

    i dont think that Israel will be affected with all of this media hype

  2. if you check CNN the news has vanished in few hours from their home, then from the “world” news. Now, in the “Middle East” section you may see videos of the Soldier thrown to water , (I wonder why he was not killed by those terrorists with knives on board of ship?!) but there shall be no sign of those who survived the Israeli attack. Even though 2 Egyptian parliament members were released the CNN could reach an unnamed soldier in the army but not parliament members?!

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