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Jonathan Edelstein

I'm going to have to respectfully dissent on this one. Sharon was out of line. By singling out France, he insulted a country that, unlike some of its neighbors (*cough*Belgium*cough*), has made genuine efforts to fight anti-Semitism. His statement was arguably also an insult to French Jews, in that it arose from a conception of Zionism that devalues Jewish communities in the diaspora. While I love Israel, I don't subscribe to the notion that it is the only proper home for Jews, and the French Jews who feel as I do deserve not to be second-guessed by Sharon.

In addition, Sharon put the Jews of France on the spot by calling upon them to abandon their loyalty to their country. The decision of whether to make aliyah or not is personal to every French Jew, and it's a fair bet that every one of them knows Israel is available. They don't need Sharon to tell them so, much less to put them in an awkward position and create an atmosphere in which they are forced to prove their loyalty. He didn't do any good either for Israel or for the French Jews, and he might have done harm to both.


I certainly buy the point that it puts French Jews in an awkward position, but I am not convinced that France is doing what it can to fight antisemitism. This is because I feel that European countries are unwilling to confront the relationship between their unfair and unreasonable criticism of Israel, and emerging attitudes toward Jews.

I'm not saying that Chirac et al have an easy task ahead of them: there is a large Moslem and Arab minority that would not take kindly to what they might perceive as a softening of attitudes toward Israel. But Chirac can't have it both ways - he can't be openly hostile to Israel *and* expect Israelis to be gracious toward him.

Sharon has both a cunning mind and an intemperate tongue, and I'm never sure which is expressing itself in these situations. In any event, Israel is said to be working to mend fences - there and in New Zealand.

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