To the tally of the collateral effects of the war unleashed on 7 October by Hamas, we must add the pulverisation of the policy of “At the same time” as practiced by Emmanuel Macron since he came to power.
His unconditional support for Israel’s right to defend itself, proclaimed very soon after the barbaric terrorist attack, was supposed to foreshadow a clear political line.
However, five weeks later, we realize that this is not the case and we wonder whether the risk of new suburban rioting such as he fears, does not, in his eyes, supplant the civilisational struggle that Israel is currently waging to ensure its survival.
How else can we understand his recent positions? In Paris, last Thursday, at the end of the Humanitarian Conference on Gaza of which he was the instigator (and during which not a word was said about the 240 hostages held in Hamas jails), the President of the Republic called for a ceasefire, while most Western capitals called for a humanitarian truce. The nuance is important because, as German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz reminded him, a ceasefire would allow Hamas to restore its health.
In his interview with the BBC (which still refuses to call Hamas a terrorist movement), Emmanuel Macron went even further by “urging Israel to stop” the bombing of civilians.
According to him, these strikes have “neither reason nor legitimacy” and during which, he recalled, “babies, women and the elderly are killed”. These are almost cynical words, while the traumatic images of the barbarities committed on 7 October against Israeli civilians remain etched in our minds. They obviously outraged the Israeli political class, which no doubt also remembers that Emmanuel Macron was one of the last to go there to express his support after the Hamas attacks. Before going directly to shake hands with the President of the Palestinian Authority…
Two days after his statements, Emmanuel Macron had to explain himself to Israeli President Isaac Herzog in a telephone conversation during which he reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself. Benjamin Netanyahu had meanwhile replied to the President of the French Republic that he did not “need these moral lessons” from him and it is a safe bet that the position chosen by France will erode the relationship between the two countries for a while.
In France, the Jewish community is dumbfounded by these positions. On Twitter/X, Yonathan Arfi, the president of CRIF, the French Jewish umbrella group, said that he had read the president’s remarks “with concern” during his interview with the BBC: “Crif asks for a clarification of France’s position.”
Rarely has the organized Jewish community openly criticized the regime in power.
Worse, the attitude of the head of state will not have improved the image of France in the Arab countries, as he must certainly have expected.
A dozen ambassadors of France to the Middle East and the Maghreb have indeed expressed their “concern” about the French position in favour of Israel coming, according to them, to break a “traditionally balanced position between Israelis and Palestinians”.
By dint of wanting to please everyone, Emmanuel Macron will not have convinced anyone.
- Laëtitia Enriquez, is a journalist for French Jewish weekly newspaper, Actualité juive
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