I take the liberty of using your first name because, as I hope you will recall, I made a cameo appearance in Manhattan Stories when I was mayor, and I really enjoyed it. And, of course, we often visit the same restaurants at the same time.
You were quoted in yesterday's New York Times on the subject of anti-Semitism in France as saying, "I never felt that the French people in any way were anti-Semitic...I think one can be very proud of France for the way they've acquitted themselves in the last election and I don't think a boycott is in order. I just don't feel that it's right...I think any boycott is wrong. Boycotts were exactly what the Germans were doing against the Jews."
Some who disagree with you, not only now, but in the past as well, have referred to you as a "self-hating Jew." I think that is unfair. Your humor, movies and scripts all convey in an intelligent and humorous manner your positive Jewish identity.
|"I am convinced that your comments have given the French people and their government undeserved cover for their tolerance of anti-Semitic behavior."|
I also believe you are wrong in your comments about the French.
While you defended the outcome of the last election and LePen's defeat as a "clear-cut response to the extreme right," Le Pen received 18 percent of the total vote. If a party whose leader is widely recognized even in France as a defender of the Nazi regime were to receive 18 percent of the vote for president here in the United States, would you feel proud of America or would you sit up and take notice?
Were you not offended when the French ambassador to Great Britain, Daniel Bernard, recently attending a dinner party, called Israel "a shitty little country," adding, "Why should the world be in danger of World War III because of those people?" The implication to many was that Ambassador Bernard thinks Jewish lives lost in terrorist suicide bombings are not as precious as others requiring our concern. It is a fact that during WWII, French cops in unoccupied Vichy France rounded up and delivered 61,000 Jews to the Nazis at Drancy without a request by the Nazis that they do so.
Those Jews ended up in Nazi death camps where they were gassed. It is generally accepted that the French in large numbers were collaborators with the Nazis. And a relatively small number continued to fight underground before France was liberated as a result of the D-Day invasion. In January of this year, Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister, Michael Melchior, singled out France as the European country where the greatest number of anti-Semitic attacks have occurred.
Many knowledgeable observers believe anti-Semitism in France and elsewhere in Europe is equal to what it was in 1939. I do too.
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, has denounced French anti-Semitism and the lack of governmental response, saying, "Time and again, we have called on President Chirac to come forward with strong denunciations of the violence and incendiary anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric, and take responsibility for Jewish citizens by better protecting them."