A debate has been raging in France around the following simple question: Why is it politically correct in many circles of the West to criticize Islam but not Judaism? (For the particular situation that led to this typical Franco-French fighting, one can read the long note (7) below. One can also consult the original inspiration for this essay, from Roger Cohen: “Aux barricades! France and the Jews” (New York Times and IHT, August 3, 2008).)

France and the Jews is of course a gigantic subject: simply put, there were Jews in Gaul before there were Francs. Anti-Judaism was encouraged by Saint Hilarius, bishop of Poitiers (and also inventor of the Trinity), in the mid Fourth century (~ 350 CE). Saint Hilarius was a straight forward fanatical racist: he preached to ignore and ostracize Jews, and not to return their salutations (Jews and Pagan had full rights as citizens of the Roman empire before the theocratic dictatorship under Constantine removed them). The Pagan Franks founded Francia in 486 CE (soon they gave the Jews their full rights back).

As Roger Cohen puts it: ” It’s not quite the Dreyfus Affair, at least not yet. But France is divided again over power and the Jews. While the United States has been debating The New Yorker’s caricature of Barack Obama as a Muslim, France has gone off the deep end over a brief item in the country’s leading satirical magazine portraying the relationship between President Nicolas Sarkozy’s fast-rising son, Jean, and his Jewish fiancée.”

As it turns out the young lady is extremely rich. Just pointing out that fact brought howls of “anti-Semitism”.

In these sort of debates, about who hates whom and why they are right to do so, it may help to use accurate vocabulary, the first necessary step towards accurate thoughts. Otherwise, it’s garbage in, garbage out, here, there, and everywhere. The air itself becomes garbage.

In conventional usage, people who have something against Jews are called “anti-Semite”. It’s not completely false, because Jews are Semites. But neither is it really true, either. It can even be completely false.

Socrates and Plato used to love pointing out logical trivialities, but it may have been more useful to point out illogical trivialities people engage in frequently. Maybe then Athens would not have gone down.

A lot of the debate about Jews, pro and con, rests on such illogisms, and thus, unsurprisingly, can be all things to all people. 

If one is against snakes, and snakes are animals, then one, according to many an anti-Anti-Semite, ought to be labeled “anti-Animal”. But such a generalization would be unfair to truth and animals in general, and one self in particular, if one happens to be an animal. By the same token, always according to many of our funny friends the anti-Anti-Semites, since Nazis were anti-Jew, and (German) Jews were German, the Nazis ought to have been called “anti-German” (that’s definitively a reasoning the Nazis would not have been comfortable with, all the more since, as it turned out, it was so true: the Nazis’ little adventure was bound to kill lots of Germans, and, indeed, it killed 10% of them).

But let’s come back to our friends the denizens of Arabia. The Arabs are Semites. Calling an Arab “anti-Semite” is calling him anti-Himself, self destructive. That maybe true, but certainly it is not a nice way to engage a conversation. Still, there is a grain of truth in this, because the Jews not only are Semite, but they come from the root of the Arabian peninsula. Arabia is that big peninsula between the giant African and Eurasiatic plates. This is shown by linguistic, historical, and genetic evidence (contradictory pontificating will be adressed in the notes below).

In other words, the Jews are denizens of Arabia, just as “Arabs” are. Looked at it this way, a Jew is an Arab. By being anti-Jew an Arab is anti-Arab in some sense. So the Judaic-Arabic argument is a sort of civil war in the minds of generalized Arabs (see notes). They don’t need another war, they need a shrink.

Now for the money context. The screaming by people of more or less Jewish origin that it is anti-Jew to say that there is a connection between Jews and money is disingenuous. For religious Judaic reasons, it was forbidden to Jews to borrow money against interest to other Jews, and so universalistic Jews calling themselves Christians having adopted that doctrine too, among themselves could not borrow either. That left the religious loophole that Christians could borrow from Jews, etc… Not only they hated each other, but they would have invented each other, if they did not already exist… Oh, why did the Christians, or more exactly Catholic Orthodox, as they called themselves (!) hate the Jews so much? Very simple: they had killed everybody else (intellectuals, Pagan, other types of Christians, etc…), but could not quite kill the Jews (their mythical founder being a Jew followed around by Jews, and their “book” being the “book”, i.e., the Bible), so the Christians were very frustrated. Soon the Pagan Franks took power, and put the Christians in the dog house for centuries, and forced them to behave. (After six centuries of best behavior, though, the Christians found their Crusade trick, and came out barking each time a Jew passed by, poisoning Europe again with enchroating madness, until the full religious wars of the Renaissance.)   

But back to the original position of the Jews in the High Middle ages. The Jews, who had full citizen rights under the Carolingian Imperium Francorum, became richer, and started a tradition of riches, by lending to Christians. Those the closest to money end up with more. And those who want to learn from history have to learn even what they decided they did not like. The history of the Jews in Western Europe is full of enough horrors to excuse many Jewish defects, real or imagined.

Many Jews were very rich, hence, sometimes, as happened in the 13c., the king of France and his vassal the king of England, woke up and threw the Jews out, keeping there riches. Before allowing them back, like the cows are brought back to the farm to make more milk. Another method was simply to marry rich Jews (the French monarchy used to marry its Italian bankers too). That’s how most of the French population ended with Jewish ancestors (including De Gaulle). Besides, since Jews had equal rights, and Judaism was looser, there were mass conversions to Judaism throughout the empire of the Franks. Accusing the French of anti-Judaism is accusing them of anti-Frenchism (that they do everyday to amuse themselves, but it’s another story).

It is also disingenuous, and anti-European, not to say anti-Civilizational, to claim as Elie Wiesel, Claude Lanzmann, Robert Badinter and Bernard-Henri Lévy and others do, that their philosophical fire should be directed towards what they call “the line between humor and insult, caricature and hatred”. So doing, they make the point Quran fundamentalists want to make in places like Afghanistan, with a knife across little girls throats.

Elie Wiesel, Claude Lanzmann, Robert Badinter and Bernard-Henri Lévy, and their kind should be ashamed that their petty opportunism encourages Quran fundamentalist killers (by making such a big deal that the insult line was crossed, those worthies agree with the Quranist killers on their number one claim: insulting humor matters a lot, and should be punished).

If humor is really so terrible, they should go to court and defeat it (but they probably fear that the judge would punish them instead; French judges punish the losing side). And if it’s so false, then seriously disprove it, whatever it is. It can be excellent for philosophical thriving, to search for valid arguments.

I will have some freedom fries…

Patrice Ayme


1) Genetics show less intermixing of the Jews than with surrounding population (an argument to support the “right of return” of the Jews to their homeland around Jerusalem; after all, they were chased away by Romans, Christians, and Muslims).

2) Some gentic markers have been found more in common (10%) with Kurds, so some scream Jews have nothing to do with Arabs. But first genetic science is not advanced enough, and, secondly the argument above is geographical: at some point, and for more than a millennium, Jews were home around Jerusalem (and Muhammad’s ancestors were not!). Moreoever nations moved in the past. Finally liguistics has often proven more precise than inchoating genetic. 

3) If Jews are generalized Arabs, then they are natural allies for Arabs, and Iran should rather meditate that one carefully…

4) Initially Muhammad set himself to bring to Pagan Arabs, with their cult of the moon and of the meteorite, a flourishing religious tourism in Mecca, the great and real JEWISH God. Initially He wanted the day of the Lord to be the Sabbath, and the Jews of Yatrib (now Medina) were his best friends. But they had a serious different, one of the Jewish tribes was annihilated by Muhammad, and the others fled to Palestine-Jordan. There they helped the invading Arab Muslim armies, a few years later, in their assault against the Roman army (!)

5) A careful digestion of the sort of information above shows that the Palestino-Jewish conflict is much ado about nothing. Not only are Jews generalized Arabs, but Islam is a desertic version of universal Judaism, just as Christianism is a Roman (Constantine!) version of universal Judaism. The anti-Judaism of Islam was invented by Christian fanatics (Constantine, Saint Hilarius, etc…), and Muslims picked it up like parrots! (Sorry for the humor, or was it a fact, or an insult?) It’s all a brawl among historically challenged siblings!  But those who confuse categories and make big friends with what they hate to win one argument against someone they dislike, contribute to the problem they claim to want to fix.  

6) It is often said that the West feels culprit about “the” holocaust, so they created Israel to atone for their guilt. But first Israel was created more than 3,000 years ago. a better argument is that Isreal is an outpost of democracy, or there to divide the Middle East. There is something to the later point. It seems that the E.U. and the U.S.A. have ample power to impose a solution. Not doing so keeps the Middle East divided. The USa, in particular has long been allied to Muslim fundamentalism, using it as a weapon of mass destruction against whatever it wanted to level. 


7) The Sinet affair background: A lifelong provocateur (he is 80 years old), whose previous targets have included Christians, Muslim fundamentalists and gays, Maurice Sinet (pen name: “Sine”) went to the police after a website called for him to be murdered. He penned a critical paragraph on the rising fortunes of the 21-year-old Jean Sarkozy, who was elected this year in his father’s political fief, the wealthy Paris suburb of Neuilly (where he organized a mimi coup). Sine wrote that Sarkozy junior “has just said he intends to convert to Judaism before marrying his fiancee, who is Jewish, and the heiress to the founders of Darty,”  “He’ll go far, that kid,” he wrote (Darty is a French retail giant).

Charlie Hebdo editor Philippe Val said Sine was sacked for remarks that “could be interpreted as drawing a link between conversion to Judaism and social success”, thus alluding to the old stereotype linking Jews and money. Val said the text was “neither acceptable nor defendable in court”.

The “Affaire Sine” escalated into a tug-of-war over raw freedom of expression and alleged “anti-Semitism”. France has a long history with Judaism and anti-Judaism, ever since Saint Hilarius riled against Jews in the Fourth century, and a few centuries later Jews were given full rights, eleven centuries before the Dreyfus affair, and still a sensitive issue in a country that has both Europe’s largest community of Jewish descent, at 600,000 people, and its largest  community of Muslim descent, at around five million (I’m careful to say “descent” because most French are atheists, including not just many so called Christians but also many so called Jews and Muslims).

In an open letter in Le Monde in July 2008, 20 writers and politicians including Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe, Nobel Peace prize winner Elie Wiesel and former justice minister Robert Badinter, and the hyper rich philosopher Bernard Henri Levy defended the paper’s firing of its satirist. They said he had “crossed the line between humorous insult and hateful caricature”. The chorus of condemnation was joined by French Culture Minister Christine Albanel last week.

Eight thousand people have signed up to an online petition defending Sine, including the architect Jean Nouvel and the far-left former presidential candidate Olivier Besancenot. They insist he is not an anti-Semite, merely an agent provocateur, that his remarks were well within the law, and part of a healthy and necessary tradition of irreverent satire. “We can’t breathe in this country any more,” complained the writer Jean-Marie Laclavetine in Le Monde. “We need the outrageousness of someone like Sine.”

“Charlie Hebdo has dealt a terrible blow to freedom of expression by seeking to gag Sine the libertarian,” wrote Gisele Halimi, a high-profile lawyer, defender of dangerous leftist causes and women rights, and a former lawmaker, who is half Jewish. The satirical weekly made headlines in 2006 for reprinting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, which sparked a wave of violent protests around the world, as well as an irreverent cartoon of its own. It later won a defamation suit brought by French Muslim groups in a trial seen as a test case for freedom of expression, and over which it received the support of the French media and political establishment.

Why, indeed, should it be possible to criticize Islam but not Judaism? Well, a subject not broached here is that a lot of those who do not want to criticize Judaism are themselves European, and so are many Jews and Israeli of apparently European descent, contrarily to most Muslims… A white angel covered with Svastikas rotating the wrong way passes by…

Tags: ,


  1. Mathew James Says:

    Great post, it was very informative. I think its a must read.


  2. Mathew James Says:

    Great post, it was very informative. I think its a must read.


  3. felicia Says:

    this is a great essay- it took me a couple of days to read- I’m forwarding your link to some friends.. well done!!


  4. Charlie Hebdo Fired ‘Anti-Semitic’ Cartoonist For Ridiculing Judaism In 2009 - AnonHQ AnonHQ Says:

    […] an open letter to Le Monde in July 2008, 20 writers and politicians including: Paris Mayor, Bertrand Delanoe; Nobel Peace […]


  5. Charlie Hebdo Fired ‘Anti-Semitic’ Cartoonist For Ridiculing Judaism In 2009 | CSGlobe Says:

    […] an open letter to Le Monde in July 2008, 20 writers and politicians including: Paris Mayor, Bertrand Delanoe; Nobel Peace […]


  6. TRANSCEND MEDIA SERVICE » Charlie Hebdo Fired ‘Anti-Semitic’ Cartoonist for Ridiculing Judaism in 2009 Says:

    […] an open letter to Le Monde in July 2008, 20 writers and politicians including: Paris Mayor, Bertrand Delanoe; Nobel Peace […]


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. The fired cartoonist Sinet is doing OK, BTW, he has his own satirical magazine. CH was also condemned to a hefty fine at the time (like $140,000)…


What do you think? Please join the debate! The simplest questions are often the deepest!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: