France’s new foreign minister enabled Gaza genocide

Stéphane Séjourné, France’s new foreign minister, has voiced approval of Israel’s violence against Gaza. (French foreign ministry)

France’s new foreign minister enabled the genocide in Gaza.

Stéphane Séjourné – the minister in question – made no secret of where his sympathies lay on 7 October. “Israel can count on France and Europe to defeat terrorism, wherever it may be,” he said.

By the time he gave that assurance, Benjamin Netanyahu had already insisted “the enemy will pay an unprecedented price” for the Hamas operation of that day.

Israel’s prime minister regards all Palestinians as “the enemy.” That has been clear throughout his long and ignoble career.

So there can be no doubt Séjourné was endorsing a threat that Gaza would be subjected to the worst violence it had ever encountered.

Séjourné was then head of Renew Europe, a political grouping in the European Parliament.

During a speech on 18 October, Séjourné later advocated the “reaffirmation of Israel’s right to assure its security, in the respect of international law and humanitarian law.”

The caveat about respecting international law was hollow.

Israel had expressed clear intent at that point to violate the United Nation’s Genocide Convention. Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, had infamously referred to Gaza’s inhabitants as “human animals” and ordered that they be denied food, water and energy.

France has long abetted the oppression of the Palestinians.

Thales, the country’s largest weapons firm, is a valued partner of Israel’s war industry. Such cooperation involves making small modifications to drones tested in attacks against Gaza so that they can be traded internationally.

Promoting bigotry

Only two positive things can be said about France’s position on Palestine.

First, it occasionally looks more measured than that of Britain, the US or Germany. Secondly, the French elite is willing to sometimes antagonize the pro-Israel lobby.

Emmanuel Macron’s November 2023 plea for an end to Israel’s killing of women and babies falls in the latter category.

The call was not courageous: It was only made after thousands of people in Gaza had already been slaughtered.

But it apparently led one of the top pro-Israel advocates in France to spit out his croissant.

Arié Bensemhoun, the advocate in question, wants France to provide diplomatic cover for Israel’s violence, no matter how ghastly it becomes.

Bensemhoun works for the European Leadership Network, a pro-Israel group largely reliant on fundraising in the US, and regularly gives vent to his anti-Palestinian racism.

He excuses the horrors inflicted on Gaza by claiming that Palestinian civilians are “not all innocent, far from it.”

Gaza, in his mind, has a “population totally dedicated to terror and death.” And he has fulminated against the UN for running “campaigns to aid Gaza’s children, that is to say the families of the aggressors.”
Bensemhoun faces no consequences for his outbursts. On the contrary, he and the European Leadership Network regularly bring lawmakers on trips to the Middle East.
As well as hating Palestinians particularly, he promotes a general bigotry against Muslims.

One of his preferred insults is to label activists critical of Western foreign policy islamo-gauchiste. The English translation – “Islamo-leftist” – doesn’t quite capture how pejorative the term is considered to be.

A rough analogy for this present-day bigotry would be the way European anti-Semites, especially Adolf Hitler, habitually accused Jews of being the driving force behind communism or “Bolshevism.” That accusation became one of the motivations for the Holocaust.

Bensemhoun’s bigotry goes largely unchallenged for the simple reason that intolerance toward Islam is far from uncommon among the French political elite.

Gabriel Attal, the country’s new prime minister, has encouraged such intolerance.

As education minister last year, he introduced a ban on the abaya – a modest dress that many Muslim women choose to wear – in schools.

The phrase “French paradox” generally refers to a diet that is unhealthy on paper yet seemingly conducive to longevity.

A similar paradox applies to its politics. Leaders who serve a toxic cocktail of xenophobia and ignorance are still able to pose as liberal and open-minded.


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