French ambassador: Israelis suffer from 'anti-Frenchism'

By Aluf Benn

Haaretz

Kislev 27, 5765

The French ambassador to Israel accused Israelis on Thursday of suffering from "a mental disorder of anti-Frenchism," sparking protests from the Foreign Ministry.

"I think there is a neurosis that causes anti-Frenchism," the ambassador, Gerard Araud, told Army Radio. "This anti-French neurosis has led to France being so hated in Israel. The relationship between the two countries is very difficult. You simply love to hate us."

The deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry's European desk, Ran Curiel, told the ambassador that his comments were "unacceptable, outside of diplomatic norms, and do not contribute to the efforts of France and Israel to improve their relationship."

Araud said anti-Semitism in France is no different from that in other countries in Europe, but "Israelis harass us, because we are an easier target." Two synagogues that were set alight in Europe in June elicited no Israeli reaction, Araud said, charging that one day later, "when there was some anti-Semitic graffiti on a Paris street, it made the front page of Haaretz."

The ambassador also criticized Israeli journalist Yair Lapid, a writer and satirist for the Maariv newspaper (and son of Shinui chairman Yosef Lapid). After the death of Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat, Lapid wrote that the manner in which France treated the issue of Arafat's death proved that "the French are shit," Araud said.

The ambassador called such sentiments completely unacceptable, saying if the French media were to use such language in reference to Jews, they would be accused of anti-Semitism.

The ambassador also attacked political satirist Eli Yatzpan for never ceasing to make fun of France. "Everyone knows that Yatzpan picks on France regularly. He simply loves to laugh at our expense," Araud said.

The ambassador also said that Israeli taxi drivers throw passengers out of their cabs as soon as the drivers discover they're French.

The Israeli "anti-French neurosis," said Araud, began with the crisis in relations that developed during the Six-Day War.

"Until 1967 the relationship was close and it was a love story," said Araud. "In 1967 Israel felt betrayed by the French embargo [on arms sales to Israel], and since that trauma, Israel has continued to build the case against France. It is possible to find new reasons for the hatred, but in essence we are talking about the same pathology."