Pro-Palestinian protesters clashed with police in central Paris on Saturday when hundreds of marchers defied a ban by French authorities to rally against Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip.
French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve warned organizers in a television address that they would be held responsible for any clashes and could be prosecuted for ignoring a ban that was confirmed by the country’s top administrative court.
TV footage showed a minority of demonstrators wearing balaclavas and traditional Arab keffiyeh headdresses throwing projectiles at riot officers. Paris police said they had made 40 arrests.
French authorities have refused to permit several pro-Palestinian protests because they feared violence. Marchers clashed with riot police in and around Paris in recent weeks, with some targeting synagogues and Jewish shops.
“Anti-Semitic violence exists: we must face it head on,” Cazeneuve said.
Several thousand gathered in Place de la République in Paris, France to protest the Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, defying a state ban on the demonstration.
Protesters chanted “Israel is an assassin, Holland is an accomplice” and “we are all Palestinians,” and some were seen gesturing the quenelle, a reverse Nazi-salute, AFP reported. Tension mounted as hundreds of protesters, some masked, began throwing stones and projectiles at police who responded with tear gas.
As the war in Israel rages on, with Operation Protective Edge into its third week, the war online continues to intensify.
France, in particular, has seen some of the worst demonstrations and violence in condemning Israel’s strike against Gaza, as anti-Israel demonstrators spent last weekend protesting, attempting to break into two Paris synagogues and vandalizing a kosher butcher shop.
If the rallies and news reports aren’t enough to confirm what is taking place there, the online forums and hate speech certainly is, with commentators relentlessly attacking Israel, holding what it seems to be a very strong bias against the Jewish state.
According to a new report from AFP, since Operation Protective Edge began two and a half weeks ago, leaving over 600 Palestinians and dozens of IDF soldiers dead, this brand of hate posted online has significantly increased in a country that boasts the largest Jewish and Muslim communities in Western Europe.
“As soon as you talk about Israel, it crystallizes all passions, with up to 20,000 or 30,000 comments sometimes after an article, of which we will only let 5% to 10% through,” explained David Corchia, head of an online moderation company of which both Le Figaro and Liberation (French news publications) are clients.
[. . .]
“We see racist or anti-Semitic messages, very violent, that also take aim at politicians and the media, sometimes by giving journalists’ contact details,” he added. “This sickening content is peculiar to this conflict. The war in Syria does not trigger these kinds of comments.”
And (naturally?) the Germans make an appearance:
Across Europe, many pro-Palestinian rallies have been taking a disturbing turn. Under the guise of opposing Israel’s actions in Gaza, thousands of protesters have given expression to virulent anti-Jewish sentiments–and often acted on them. In France, mobs have shouted “Death to the Jews,” and eight synagogues have been attacked. One journalist even overheard a man who “spoke loudly about ‘hunting Jews and killing them.’” In the northern suburbs of Paris, the neighborhood of one of France’s largest Jewish communities was ransacked, with cars and businesses destroyed, including a kosher grocery store that was burned down.
Elsewhere in Europe, similar scenes have unfolded. In the U.K., for example, anti-Semitic incidents have doubled, with one woman being physically assaulted by pro-Palestinian marchers in London, who called her a “Jew Zionist.” But perhaps the most striking and disturbing example of this phenomenon has come out of Germany, where one would have hoped primitive anti-Semitic mobs were a relic of history.
In a video taken at a large anti-Israel rally in Berlin this past Thursday, hundreds of protesters can be seen chanting in German, “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come on out and fight on your own” (“Jude, Jude, feiges Schwein, komm heraus und kämpf allein“).
Of course, I am absolutely gobsmacked by these stories. After all, I have been repeatedly assured that “anti-Semitism scarcely exists in the West.”
Rich Lowry has more to say on “useful idiots”:
Sound bites are usually meant to obfuscate as much as clarify. Rarely is one so incisive as the line uttered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the other day about the difference between Israel and Hamas: “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”
This is the ground truth of the latest Gaza war that gets obscured by the relentlessly repeated stark disparity in casualties between the Gazans, hundreds of whom have died in the conflict, and the Israelis.
Each civilian death in Gaza is a tragedy, but who is ultimately responsible? The moral calculus here is simple. Hamas precipitated the war and persisted in waging it even when Israel was willing to accept an Egyptian offer of a cease-fire. Hamas hides its rockets in schools and places its command bunkers under hospitals. It wants war, and it wants civilian casualties.
Stalin infamously said that one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic. Hamas is happy with either a tragedy (the four kids killed on the beach by Israeli shells last week) or a statistic (the climbing civilian toll), so long as it is death and so long as it can be used in the propaganda war against Israel.
This isn’t hard to understand. Yet even supporters of Israel give in to the twisted logic that the Gaza conflict is somehow an indictment of the Jewish state. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said on CNN “that this is hurting Israel’s moral authority.” Which is exactly the conclusion Hamas wants “the international community” to draw from its depraved indifference to the safety of Gazans.
Jon Stewart did a controversial bit last week about how Israel has all the advantages in the conflict, what with its warnings via app to its civilians about incoming rockets and its ability to neutralize those rockets with its missile defenses.
Yes, how unfair. Israel invested in systems entirely devoted to protecting its civilian population from unprovoked attack. What dastardliness is the Zionist Entity capable of next?
Dean Obeidallah of The Daily Beast lauds Stewart for this in a piece headlined, “How Jon Stewart Made It Okay to Care About Palestinian Suffering.” It’s more like making it cool to be obtuse about the Gaza war.
Similar–and similarly welcome–points from Charles Krauthammer:
Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire; Hamas keeps firing. Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking.
“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”
Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we routinely hear this Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent “cycle of violence.” This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting? Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war. And everyone knows the proudly self-declared raison d’etre of Hamas: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.
Read it all. Of course, none of these facts matter for the morally deranged, who relentlessly criticize Jewish people for not consenting to die quickly at the hands of violent lunatics. And facts certainly don’t matter for the benighted who turn their eyes and ears away from moral derangement any and every chance they get. But they ought to matter for the rest of us.