One hopes the French president's run-in with Israeli security will help him to realise the plight of the Palestinians.
This past Thursday in an occupied Jerusalem, world leaders gathered along with the president and prime minister of Israel to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the destruction of the Auschwitz camp.
It was problematic enough to hold a commemoration for the massacre of European Jews that took place in Europe, inside the Middle East. On top of it, this meeting was held in Jerusalem, rather than Tel Aviv, to no opposition.
That this took place in Israel rather than Poland, where the camp was and then later liberated, speaks to the notion many politicians are seeking to indoctrinate into the masses: anti-Semitism is equitable to anti-Zionism, and the centre for the Jews of the world is now in Israel.
The French recently passed a law outlawing anti-Zionism by equating it to anti-Semitism.
Ergo, all Jews are Israeli, and all Israelis are Jews – there should be no need to explain the flaws in this logic.
It is problematic for Israel to associate all Jews to an ethnonational, and wholly religious, state. As world leaders discuss the global rise in anti-Semitism, it begs the question, might this association be one of the causes?
The insistence on linking the global Jewish community to a state that has been condemned numerous times by the international community for its harsh policies on Palestinians puts many Jews in a precarious position. They now make critics of Israel by default critics of Jews, and quite plainly on-the-ground this is not the case without their encouragement.
The critical Polish stance on the commemoration supports my argument. The government chose to refuse the invitation to Israel and instead held a commemoration at the site of Auschwitz. This was in protest to Russian efforts to maximise the positive actions of the former Soviet Union, instead centring on an under-the-table pact with Germany, akin to Skyes-Picot, carving out Eastern Europe and distributing power amongst themselves.
Despite this, Russia, France, the US, Italy, Canada, and several other nations were present at the meeting, many with high-level representatives if not their top leaders.
This works quite well with the current Israeli push to rename their capital and ultimately occupy the rest of Palestine. There is an essential significance to Jerusalem – not only politically, but across religious lines as well. And now apparently it is not only Palestinian territory that Israel is occupying, but French territory on occupied-Palestinian land.
A situation as confusing as the status of the territory is the territory itself. Located in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem is the St. Anne Church. A short history includes the birth of the Virgin Mary in an underground cave, French crusaders, Salahuddin Ayubi, and many other historical milestones. Ultimately, the Ottoman Sultan Abdulmecid I gifted it to Napoleon III for French assistance in the Crimean War, and it has since has been considered French territory.
Now move forward to present day and French President Emmanuel Macron, it seems, experienced a small sense of what occupation under Israel might feel like.
After an Israeli-sponsored tour of the Old Quarter, the French president sought to visit this historic and vital site but shortly before entering became enraged at the conduct of an Israeli officer. He reprimands the officers in front of him and re-states that this is a French territory, instigating that they have little right to be there. This incident is not unlike one of his predecessors, Jacques Chirac in 1996, who refused to enter the church until the armed officers removed themselves.
Be this a political ploy or a publicity stunt; ultimately, a world leader was treated like an ordinary tourist. The Israeli security apparatus clearly does not discriminate in its harassment of residents and tourists in Jerusalem.
Needless to say, the politics surrounding the event overshadowed an important commemoration, specific to the Jewish community. As a strong advocate of Jews and Israel, it is undoubtedly quite humiliating. This de-humanisation happens regularly and with much greater severity than this mild fracas.
One need not even speculate on the mistreatment of the Palestinian population if this is what happens to a world leader. Unwarranted arrests, administrative dentition, land-grabbing, demolitions of homes and schools, unethical and likely illegal policies of revoking residency permit and ID cards, imprisonment of minors, destruction of farms, and sadly, the list continues and evolves every day.
It not easy to explain the constant duress of occupation, but this widely publicised video of the French leader may provoke some thought, even if only momentarily.
Upon his return to his country, we can only hope that President Macron may empathise enough to influence policy change in a chronically aggrieved place and reconsider his blind support for the settler-colonial project the Israeli state is currently imposing on Palestinians.
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