Carmen Callil's recent book, Bad Faith: A Forgotten History of Family and Fatherland, details the actions of Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, the Vichy government official who organized the deportation of French Jews to Auschwitz. Callil's hypothesis goes deeper as she decided to comment on the Israeli-Palestinian dynamic saying that Palestinians are oppressed by Israelis.
Consequently, the French Embassy in New York canceled a party in honor of her book. Callil told Reuters that the party was canceled after complaints from "fundamentalist Jews." In addition, a source at the French Embassy's New York office told Reuters that the embassy objected to the author's "opinion ... equating what was done to the Jews of France (under the Nazi regime) with what has been done to the Palestinian people."
Bruce Kesler, a blogger for the Democracy Project, writes in response to Callil's characterization of Jews as fundamentalists that "[she] exposes her politicized Leftist conception of the world by using the term, 'fundamentalist,' as a negative description of anyone of publicly held religious faith, or to the Right of themselves with attachment to fundamental first principles."
Conversely, David Pryce-Jones in his most recent book, Betrayal: France, the Arabs and the Jews, explains France's decision to support totalitarian, terrorist leaders, when he writes: "By supporting Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat, France hoped to lever itself into the position of mastery in the Middle East that has been a goal for such a long time."
The above examples show that a vicious lie is entrenched in contemporary discourse, especially throughout Europe, and especially in France: The notion that Israel treats the Palestinians in the same fashion that Jews were treated during the Holocaust.
Historically, France is the birthplace of anti-Semitism and one of the great promoters of another vicious lie -- The Protocols of the Elder of Zion, a fabricated document put together by the czarist police in turn of the 20th-century Russia. It depended a great deal on La France Juive by Eduard Drumont, an anti-Jewish diatribe that introduced the term anti-Semitism to the world.
The Protocols presents itself as the real "minutes" of meetings of a secret international Jewish network, the so-called "Elders of Zion" that plans to dominate the world.
The document conceives of a Jewish conspiracy aimed at replacing all legitimate governments with one Jewish leader, drawn from the House of David, who would rule the entire world.
The Protocols, not surprisingly, is a big seller these days in the Arab world. Add to that the Holocaust-denial conference held by the Iranian regime and you have a dangerous, highly combustible situation. The danger behind such a gathering is the widespread acceptance that another Holocaust could take place -- and it would be just fine with most of the Western world.
Anti-Semitism should not be taken for granted. The growing prevalence of hate crimes in the West is something that we should be deeply concerned about, for ignoring them will not make them disappear. Our challenge today is to deal straightforwardly with leaders like Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who on the one hand openly denies the Holocaust, while on the other threatens to use weapons of mass destruction against Israel and the United States. The potential for a nuclear holocaust is something that should have us all worried.
And as long as Iran continues to fund groups like Hamas and Hezbollah and we do nothing, we are living out what Edmund Burke warned of when he said that, "all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
Asaf Romirowsky is manager of Israel & Middle East Affairs for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.