Bernard-Henri Lévy Headshot

Gaza Comes to Paris

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FRANCE
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Under cover of "the defense of Palestine," thousands gathered in Paris on Sunday to blame the Jews once again.

These imbeciles intermingled with haters (or the other way around) need to be reminded, for what it's worth, that conflating Jews and Israelis in the same condemnation is the very principle of anti-Semitism, which, in France, is punishable by law.

They need to be reminded that no indignation, no form of solidarity with any cause whatsoever can excuse, much less justify, the pogrom-like act of forced entry into a synagogue.

These imbeciles intermingled with haters (or the other way around) need to hear that rallying behind cardboard Qassams representing the rockets fired blindly at women, children, and seniors -- in short, at Israeli civilians -- is not an ordinary act but a gesture of support for a terrorist enterprise.

To those among them, if any there be, who truly had the cause of Gaza at heart and who paraded under banners condemning the dozens of innocents killed since the Israeli counteroffensive began, it would perhaps be too cruel to ask why they are never there, never, on the same streets of Paris, to deplore not the dozens but the tens of thousands of other innocents killed in the past four years in another Arab land, Syria. But it must be said that for those dozens of women, children, and seniors killed -- dozens that tomorrow will become hundreds if the headlong rush to Hamas is not stopped -- not one but two parties are responsible: yes, the pilot who, seeing a launcher loaded with Iranian missiles in the courtyard of a building, accidentally hits the building next to it, but also (and especially) those cynical monsters who, when the pilot announces that he intends to fire and invites the inhabitants to leave the area to avoid injury, invariably order that "no one move, that everyone remain in place, that ten, a thousand martyrs offer their blood for the holy cause, inscribed in our charter, of destruction of the Jewish state."

And as for the others, those who witness these excesses and tell themselves that passions on both sides are probably to blame, as for the media that never stop citing Israeli "aggression" or the "prison" that Gaza has become or the "spiral of violence" and "vengeance" that supposedly feeds this endless war, they need to know three things.

First, that what we are seeing is not Israeli aggression but a counterattack against a rain of missiles pouring down on its towns and cities, which no other state in the world would have tolerated for half as long as Israel has.

Second, that Gaza is indeed a sort of prison but one in which it is hard to see the Israelis as the jailers, since they withdrew from it nearly a decade ago. But what about Hamas, which subjugates the enclave, which treats its inhabitants like hostages, and which, even though a word or an extended hand would be enough to end this nightmare, prefers to pursue its criminal folly to the very end?

Third, that between the acts of violence and vengeance that are presented to us as "symmetrical," between the murder of three kidnapped Jewish teens found dead near Hebron and the murder of the Palestinian boy who was burned alive two days later by a gang of barbarians who brought shame to Israel, there is a difference that, alas, changes nothing for the four grieving families but that, for those who can and therefore must keep a cool head, makes all the difference: The political, legal, and moral authorities of Israel expressed horror at the latter case, condemned it unconditionally, and saw that the perpetrators were sought out and arrested, whereas in the former case, where the perpetrators are still at large, one needs very fine hearing to detect any word at all from the Palestinian camp, other than the declaration of Khaled Mechaal, the exiled Hamas leader, "congratulating" the "hands" that "removed" the three young people he brutally reclassified as "Jewish colonizers."

I doubt whether these observations will have any effect on the Sunday jihadists, the same crowd who deplore one day that they are deprived of the right to laugh with Dieudonné, the next that they are prevented from paying their respects to Mohammed Merah, the killer of seven children in Toulouse, and the day after that that French foreign policy does not line up solidly behind the pro-Hamas protesters.

As for the rest of France, for the millions men and women of good will who have not given up the dream of one day seeing that land peaceably shared, it would be wonderful if they could break the cycle of disinformation and lazy thinking. Between Israel and Hamas, the wrongs are not equally distributed. Hamas is a fascislamist organization from the grips of which the inhabitants of Gaza, among others, must urgently be liberated. As for the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, who calls on the United Nations to apply "pressure" on Israel, would it not be more logical, more dignified, and above all more effective for him to demand of the religious zealots who, in the last few weeks have once again become his partners in government, that they immediately lay down their arms?

The inhabitants of the Gaza Strip deserve to be treated as more than human shields.

The people of the region, all of them, are tired of the war and its parade of horrors. Let's give peace a chance.

Translated by Steven B. Kennedy