News from Paris

February 24, 2002


"River Metro" Project (3/1)

Duplicitous Ticket Booths at the Eiffel Tower (2/28)

The Slang of the Suburbs (2/25)

What Is Your Favorite Meal? (2/23)

Diana's Fans Are Deprived of Their Flame (2/21)

American Squabbles (2/19)

The Champs-Elysées Are No Longer A Paradise For Cinemas (2/18)

How Do You Celebrate Valentine's Day? (2/14)

"France Is Not Anti-Semitic"

Each week "The Parisien" gives someone a chance to speak. Today it is Hubert Védrine, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

What do you think of the new surge of violence in the Middle East?
Hubert Védrine:
The usual strategy of Ariel Sharon to handle the problem with repression is a dead end. It does not even guarantee security for the Israelis. Our objective remains the creation of a viable Palestinian state. The more viable it is, the more peaceful and democratic it will be. Unfortunately, things have moved in the opposite direction. I'm not saying Sharon should be prevented from fighting terrorism -- it is his right, and I would even say his duty. But we must convince him to stop posing impossible conditions for the opening of political negotiations.

Do you see signs of hope?
Yes. At the center of the Israelian society, questions are being raised in the political circles, in the peace camp, even in the army itself. Maybe they will result in a change of politics. We encourage it very strongly.

Sharon denounces a rising anti-semitism in France...
That shocks me because it isn't true. The government is implacably determined to fight against all forms of racism and anti-semitism. Such acts are evidently still too numerous, but there are fewer now than there were before. This denounciation is moreover so erroneous that many directors of Jewish institutions in France have sought to bring things back into perspective. I think of Théo Klein, previous president of the Crif, who has said that in the same measure where we find normal that the French Jews have an instinctive solidarity for Israel, we must not blow out of proportion the fact that those of immigrant blood have some sympathy for the Palestinien cause. Still others, like Roger Cukierman (current president of the Crif), judge Sharon's words exaggerated. France is not anti-semitic. The Israeli government is only trying to boost immigration. In any case, we will not accept the idea that antagonism between communities is being encouraged in our country.

Answers gathered by Henri Vernet

Translated by David Sadegh