President Emmanuel Macron made a scene in occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday when he angrily told Israeli security officers to get out of the Church of Saint Anne, which is traditionally under France’s control:
“Everybody knows the rules. I don’t like what you did in front of me,” Macron ordered. “Go out – outside!”
Video of the incident circulated quickly and drew comparisons with a strikingly similar confrontation when Jacques Chirac, one of Macron’s predecessors, visited the city in 1996.
Many observers suggested that Macron deliberately laid on a thicker French accent when speaking in English in order to imitate Chirac.
No one should confuse Macron’s theatrical display of anger – anymore than Chirac’s was – with a willingness to confront Israel for its human rights crimes against Palestinians.
Macron thinks “rules” are important, but apparently not when it comes to putting an end to Israel’s endless violations of international law.
Cynical exploitation of Holocaust
The French president is in the region to attend an event hosted by Israel marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet liberation of Auschwitz, the death camp in Poland where the German government murdered more than one million people during the European Christian genocide of European Jews.
Israel is cynically exploiting the solemn occasion not to promote respect for human rights, but as an opportunity to further its own criminality.
Though far from perfect – given its so far singular focus on prosecuting Africans – the ICC is part of the architecture of international justice and accountability that aims to learn the lessons of past atrocities and prevent their repetition.
But for Israel, the court is a nuisance that stands in the way of its freedom to commit atrocities against Palestinians with impunity.
Rather than pushing back against any of this, Macron has already used his visit to endorse Israel’s racist policies against Palestinians.
While meeting Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, Macron asserted once again that “anti-Zionism is not different from anti-Semitism.”
In December, the French parliament passed a resolution conflating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism – although most lawmakers did not take part in the vote.
While this view is being pushed by Israel and its lobby across Europe, it is a perverse distortion of reality.
Anti-Semitism, which must be condemned like any other form of racism, can straightforwardly be defined as prejudice or hatred of Jews just for being Jews.
Anti-Zionism, by contrast, is opposition to Israel’s state ideology.
Macron supports Israel’s racism
As I’ve explained previously, Zionism is racist.
Zionists believe that Jews should have a state of their own in historic Palestine. And Israel’s policy is that Jews must secure this “right” at any price and by virtually any means necessary.
However since Palestine’s indigenous Muslim and Christian population was – and still is when Palestinian refugees living in forced exile are taken into account – overwhelmingly non-Jewish, Zionism is inherently discriminatory.
Zionist militias could only establish Israel as a Jewish state in 1948 by perpetrating the Nakba, the expulsion of some 800,000 Palestinians and the destruction of hundreds of cities, towns and villages.
Up to the present day, Israel has only been able to maintain its Jewish majority – originally created by ethnic cleansing – by preventing the return of Palestinian refugees, in violation of international law, solely because they are not Jews.
Israel relentlessly pursues the Zionist goal of a Jewish-majority state through blatantly racist policies ranging from apartheid laws discriminating against Palestinians to habitual massacres in the Gaza Strip.
But even official Israeli bodies appear to concede that in all of historic Palestine, Israeli Jews are already a minority ruling over a Palestinian majority deprived of its most fundamental rights.
Opposition to Zionism is, therefore, a fundamentally anti-racist position. Palestinians of all political backgrounds have made it abundantly clear that they have no quarrel with Jews as Jews, but with Israel and its violent racist policies.
As Israel’s decades-long record demonstrates, Zionism is incompatible with respect for international law, universal human rights and equality.
Yet by claiming that anti-Zionism is the same as anti-Semitism, Macron is effectively saying that it is racist to oppose Israeli racism.
Zionism is moreover rejected by a significant number of Jews. While many secular Jews oppose it on political grounds – motivating them to join such anti-Zionist organizations as Jewish Voice for Peace – large numbers of religious Jews reject Zionism on theological grounds.
Any effort to equate Jews and Judaism, on the one hand, with Israel and Zionism, on the other, is inherently anti-Semitic.
Ironically, it is anti-Semites and Israel’s most fervent supporters who insist on this equation.
It follows then that Macron’s policy, like that of most other Western leaders, is fervently pro-Israel while being anti-Jewish and anti-Palestinian.