Dangerous precedent

Is the editor-in-chief of Le Monde anti-Semitic? A French court thinks so. A June 2002 article suggested that Israel treated the Palestinians with disdain. One of the offending paragraphs:

“The Jews of Israel, descendants of an apartheid named the ghetto, ghettoize the Palestinians. The Jews who were humiliated, scorned and persecuted humiliate, scorn and persecute the Palestinians. The Jews who were the victims of a pitiless order impose their pitiless order on the Palestinians. The Jews, scapegoats for every wrong, make scapegoats of Arafat and the Palestinian Authority.”

The court found the “the paper guilty of ‘racial defamation’ against Israel and the Jewish people.” The attorney representing the paper warned that the decision was ominous for fair comment: “The article was a critique of a policy, of [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon’s policy, it wasn’t a racial criticism,” lawyer Catherine Cohen said. “The remarks were taken out of context; the plaintiffs argued that they were against Jews, but a few paragraphs later, the piece says that all occupiers behave the same way. This is a very serious matter for intellectuals, for commentators who express their point of view on a very complex issue.”

I agree. Slamming all Jews as being responsible for Ariel Sharon’s policies is inappropriate (though the number of Jews who openly oppose the Israeli leader’s oppressive policies is far and few between) but suggesting that Israeli government policy is aggressive, racist and shows a singular disdain and ignorance of Jewish history is both legitimate and necessary. The oppressed has sadly become the oppressor.

Free speech has been dealt a blow.

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