Monday, July 26, 2004

This was posted a few days ago. This morning I was surprised, honored and glad to find  a reply to my letter/comment from Mr Didier Spaier from Paris himself in my mailbox. Since his reply was too long for one Haloscan comment box ( not upgraded ) he sent it by e-mail. With his permission I copied it in three pieces as a comment. In order to give others the possibility to react I post all this again, so that it will be read. Mr Spaier and I already agreed to try and meet the next time that I will come to Paris for my research, which will be some time in January or February. We have some serious differences of opinion, but we also agree on some points, it seems. In today's Ha'Aretz I read the following letter: `I won't be coming' As a Frenchman born into a Jewish family, Sharon's statements made me very angry. I am not prepared to take any advice from a foreign prime minister. Moreover I was very angry to hear your ambassador in France speaking about two months ago of Israel's government being a representative for the Jewish People. According to the criteria of Israel's Law of Return, I "am" a member of the Jewish People, as I had four Jewish grandparents. As a member of the Jewish people I never granted, and never will grant anybody in Israel the right to represent myself. I feel very well and safe in France. I consider myself a Frenchman, not a Jew living in France. I will never ever emigrate to Israel.   Didier Spaier Paris I wrote and sent the following letter to the newspaper's editor: Regarding Letter to the editor "I won't be coming", Ha'Aretz, July 22, 2004: It is sad to see two countries that have so many interests and quite some bits of history, culture and mentality in common patronizing and antagonizing each other. What is even sadder is that the Jews in France, who already are having a not very easy time, are caught in the middle. Prime Minister Sharon should have considered the position of France's Jews before he made his simple-minded and wrong remark concerning their emigration to Israel. Still, the attitude of some Jews abroad such as Mr Spaier is almost as simple-minded. Of course, Israel does not and should not speak for Jews abroad, but whether they like it or not, they will always be somehow identified with what is going on here in the Jewish state. The French Republic is doing its utmost to protect the Jews who live in France, and there is no question as to their being an inseparable part of that republic. Also, the French state has been and still is doing its best to compensate for or correct the injustices committed in its name against Jews and others by the Vichy regime, and France today does not at all dodge its responsibility in that matter. Still, sixty years is only a moment in history, and France's Jews should not take their position within French society for granted. Whenever the going gets tough, the place of minorities within a society is often questioned, at least by some ( see the position of Arabs in Israel ). Let us not forget that under Vichy only half of Mr Spaier's parentage would have been enough to get him qualified as a Jew. While the warnings, by some of Israel's leaders and officials, concerning anti-Semitism in Europe are not always justified and many a time are just a means to further particular political interests, let us remind ourselves that Israel was established first and foremost to be a safe haven for Jews from all over the world. That the country's policies and behavior sometimes is considered by some to endanger Jews abroad is yet another subject for discussion. 

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