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The articles in this issue have been divided up into the following categories







De Gaulle's opinion of Israel

Press conference held at the Elysée Palace on 27 November 1967

Sent by Edward Dangooor


General, 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?


The 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.

Neverthless, 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.

It 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.

Unfortunately 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, Israel’s 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.

Israel 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.


*After 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 flag.

Israel rightly regarded the closure of navigation as the start of hostilities by Egypt.


A Protestant Clergyman Answers General de Gaulle

It 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.

Obviously, 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 reasons:

When 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.

When 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).

When 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 "protector".

Really, 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.

Mr 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.

Claude Duvemoy

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