Gaulle's opinion of Israel
conference held at the Elysée Palace on 27 November
by Edward Dangooor
war broke out in the Middle East six months ago. It ended
quickly, as we know. What do you think of the evolution
of the situation in that area since last June?
establishment of a Zionist homeland in Palestine and then,
after the Second World War, the establishment of the State
of Israel raised at the time a certain amount of fears.
The question could be asked, and was indeed asked even among
many Jews, whether the settlement of this community on a
land acquired under more or less justifiable conditions,
in the midst of Arab populations who were basically hostile,
would not lead to continued, incessant frictions and conflicts.
Some people even feared that the Jews, until then scattered
about, but who were still what they had always been, that
is an elite people, sure of themselves and domineering,
would, once assembled again on the land of their ancient
greatness, turn into a burning and conquering ambition.
in spite of the ebbing and flowing stream of malevolences
they aroused in certain countries and certain times, a considerable
capital of interest, and even sympathy, had accrued in their
favour, especially it must be said in Christian countries:
a capital issued from the immense memory of the Bible, fed
by the sources of a magnificent liturgy, kept alive by the
commiseration inspired by their ancient misfortune, poeticised
here by the myth of the Wandering Jew, heightened by the
abominable persecutions perpetuated during the Second World
War and maginified, after they had again found a homeland,
by their constructive works and the courage of their soldiers.
That is why many countries France amongst them
had seen with satisfaction the establishment of their State
on the territory acknowledged as theirs by the Major Powers,
while wishing for them to reach, by using some modesty,
a peaceful "modus vivendi" with their neighbours.
must be said that these psychological factors had somewhat
changed since 1956. The Franco-British Suez expedition had
seen the emergence of a warrior State of Israel determined
to increase its land area and boundaries. Later, the actions
it had taken to double its population by encouraging the
immigration of new elements had led us to believe that the
territory it had acquired would soon prove insufficient
and that, in order to enlarge it, it would seize on any
opportunity that would present itself. This is the reason
why the Fifth Republic had disengaged itself from the very
special and close ties with Israel, established by the previous
regime, and instead had applied itself to favouring detente
in the Middle East. Obviously we had maintained cordial
relations with the Government of Israel, and even continued
to supply for its defence the weapons it asked to buy, while
at the same time we were advising moderation. Finally, we
had refused to give our official backing to its settling
in a conquered district of Jerusalem, and had maintained
our Embassy in Tel Aviv.
a drama occurred. It was brought on by the very great and
constant tension resulting from the scandalous fate of the
refugees in Jordan, and also by the threat of destruction
against Israel. On 22 May the Akaba affair unfortunately
created by Egypt* would offer a pretext to those who wanted
war. To avoid hostilities, on 24 May France had proposed
to the other three Major Powers to jointly forbid both parties
from initiating the fight. On 2 June, the French Government
had officially declared that it would condemn whoever would
take up arms first. I myself, on 24 May, had stated to Mr
Eban, Israels Foreign Minister, whom I saw in Paris:
"If Israel is attacked we shall not let it be destroyed,
but if you attack we shall condemn your action.
attacked, and reached its objectives in six days of fighting.
Now it organises itself on conquered territories, the occupation
of which cannot go without oppression, repression, expulsions,
while at the same time a resistance grows, which it regards
as terrorism. Jerusalem should receive international status.
asking the UN forces to leave, which for ten years had controlled
the outlet of the Gulf of Akaba at the Straight of Tiran,
Egypt announced that it would block navigation to and from
the port of Eilat, by which Israel receives its oil imports
from Iran and which is its only outlet to the Red Sea, especially
since the Suez Canal is closed to ships flying the Israel
rightly regarded the closure of navigation as the start
of hostilities by Egypt.
Protestant Clergyman Answers General de Gaulle
is considered decent to be ecstatic over the brilliant style
of your press conference. I did read your recent and original
interpretation of Jewish history and you will allow me to
be ecstatic not over your style, but over the surprising
ignorance it reveals of the actual facts, the deliberate
determination to misrepresent History and the remarkable
subtlety employed in order to insult and to hurt.
in spite of some Israeli and Jewish exegetes, you are not
anti-Semitic. It certainly would appear most ungentlemanly
to be anti-Semitic as far as you are concerned, for many
you make of so many centuries of sufferings a simple poetic
ballad of the "Wandering Jew", you insult eighteen
centuries of Jewish sufferings in Christian lands.
you assert that in Christendom a "capital interest
and sympathy" has always been offered to Israel, you
insult the people to whom were inflicted the "rouelle"
(round cloth headpiece Jews had to wear during the Middle
Ages) and official contempt (counciliar decisions of 1215).
you speak of the Jewish Jerusalem as of a "conquered
district" you have us smile: everybody knows in the
West that this town Jerusalem covers several hills and has
been built by Jewish hands. But one will have, one of these
days, to realise somehow the Ambassador of France will have
his place in Jerusalem, that the Holy Land is not protected
anymore by anyone: Israel is in charge and takes care of
it with more efficiency, courage and honour than any previous
it was not necessary, indeed to spit in the face of the
people who gave the world Moses, Isaiah, Jesus, accusing
Israel of provoking "the stream of malevolences: (admirable
euphemisms) which Jews had to suffer unceasingly.
President, you should not have taken men of France, Western
countries and Israel, for a bunch of fools since it is plain
for all to see that in your mind, the important questions
are about oil, money and the prestige not of France which
your unworthy words have injured, but by the miserable ephemeral
glory of a politician in the evening of his life.
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