Sunday, October 02, 2005

What? Doesn't Everybody Deport Their Jews?

Found at Pave France - From Haaretz, Haaretz investigates French FM's faux pas at Yad Vashem
The French satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaine reported in its September 14th issue that during the visit of French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy to the new Holocaust museum in Jerusalem's Yad Vashem on September 8, he asked - while perusing maps of European sites where Jewish communities had been destroyed - whether British Jews were not also murdered. Needless to say, Douste-Blazy's question was met by his hosts with amazement. "But Monsieur le minister," Le Canard quoted the ensuing conversation, "England was never conquered by the Nazis during World War II."

The minister apparently was not content with this answer, which, according to the magazine, was given by the museum curator, and persisted, asking: "Yes, but were there no Jews who were deported from England?"

Douste-Blazy arrived in Israel earlier this month for a first visit, as the guest of his Israeli counterpart, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.

According to an investigation by Haaretz on Sunday, the event actually occurred as described, although no official source was willing to confirm it. Douste-Blazy did visit Yad Vashem on September 8, at 11 A.M. He was in fact escorted by the curator of the museum, his entourage from the French foreign ministry and several French reporters.

One of the escorts confirmed on Sunday, on condition of anonymity, that the quotes in Le Canard were accurate, and that they caused great embarrassment. "It's a bit difficult to understand," the source said, "how an educated French person, who was serving in the French government during the huge celebrations of the Normandy landings, does not remember basic facts about the history of World War II, and especially Britain's role, especially in light of the fact, that France's great leader, General de Gaulle, led the operations of the Resistance from exile in London."

The French embassy in Israel learned of the embarrassing incident from Le Canard.

Yad Vashem spokeswoman Iris Rosenberg said in response that the French foreign minister had visited the Holocaust memorial site at the said date and time, and that she hoped his visit was "successful and enriching."
Philippe Douste-Blazy certainly seems to be in need of significant "enrichment". A mistake such as this is less the result of ignorance of the history of the British role in the War as an assumption that the mass deportation of Jews is a normal occurrence warranting surprise at the British failure to do so.

Europe continues to be largely antisemitic.

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