With his appointment as France’s new prime minister, there has been renewed attention to a 2011 video of Manuel Valls declaring that he is “eternally tied” to Israel, and expressing Islamophobic views.
Valls, who served as interior minister until his promotion to prime minister, has gained considerable international attention because he was born in the Catalonia region in Spain.
He’s also won recognition in the Israeli press for his hard-right stances. Despite nominally being a Socialist, Valls “has an ‘iron fist’ for the respect for law and order against all laxness, especially regarding illegal immigrants and those who wish to gradually infiltrate or subvert society,” reports The Jerusalem Post.
“These include the Romani, Islamist extremists, anti-Semites, anti-Zionists, terrorists (such as Mohammed Merah, who perpetrated the March 2012 shootings in Toulouse and Montauban), and Dieudonné, a French comedian noted for his anti-Semitic statements.”
The Jerusalem Post does not, however, mention a 2011 video – above – that is making the rounds on a number of French websites.
The French Muslim-oriented news website oumma.com says the interview took place at a 17 June 2011 forum hosted by Radio Judaïca in the northern city of Strasbourg.
Radio Judaïca has apparently removed any reference to the Valls interview from its website.
In the video clip Valls attacks a number of his fellow Socialist leaders for being insufficiently pro-Israel.
He also seeks to position himself as more pro-Israel even than France’s then-president Nicolas Sarkozy.
“The same Nicolas Sarkozy, who many of you voted for in 2007, considering him Israel’s only friend, and the protector of our country’s Jewish community – this is the same man who made an agreement to create the conditions for Islam in France with the UOIF [Union of Islamic Organizations of France],” Valls claims.
Valls apparently suggests that Sarkozy had made some sort of accord to grant Islam official status.
He also took shots at the internationally renowned Swiss scholar of Islam Tariq Ramadan who has been a favorite punching bag of European Islamophobes.
Valls claimed that he was the only figure on the political left “who fought with Tariq Ramadan.”
Valls, who was mayor of the southern Paris suburb of Évry at the time, said that Ramadan had come to his town “and filled the mosque.” His comments are replete with such sectarian dog whistles.
Eternally tied to Israel
Finally, Valls affirms that “through my wife I am eternally tied to the Jewish community and to Israel. So I have not come here to receive lessons in combating anti-Semitism.”
Valls’ comments sound like pandering, but they also involve open baiting of Muslims as a way to solidify support among a right-wing, pro-Israel audience.
Such views are unlikely to promote good relations with French Muslims.
Moreover, Valls’ comments unfairly associate being Jewish or being married to a Jewish person with necessarily supporting Israel and Zionism.
Such assertions can foster prejudicial stereotypes as well as delegitimize and marginalize French Jews who criticize Zionism and stand in solidarity with Palestinian rights.
The new prime minister’s views would have made him a comfortable pick for French president François Hollande.