This is a translated transcript of an appearance by Michèle Sibony of the French Jewish Union for Peace on the news channel LCI, challenging the French media consensus on Israel-Palestine and recent Gaza protests.
Michèle Sibony sur LCI : Gaza, la solidarité en France et l’attitude du gouvernement
Announcer 1: Good evening, Michèle Sibony. You are the vice president of the French Jewish Union for Peace. Your movement participated in the demonstration this evening in Paris, Place des Invalides. Another protest is planned for next Saturday. The police want to prohibit it due to a serious risk to public order. Do you understand this decision?
MS: I think the serious threat to public order is what is happening in Gaza and the position our government has taken.
Announcer 2: You’re denouncing the position taken by François Hollande when he spoke with Benjamin Netanyahu to offer his support?
MS: It’s impossible in the current situation that nobody in France, including at the governmental level, is capable of saying that we’re dealing with a colonial situation, a situation of occupation and colonization, that we’re dealing with repression and not a war. An operation of repression. Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that if anyone attacked Israel, because there was an Israeli death yesterday, the first death compared to over two hundred…
Announcer 2: But every day there are rockets fired over …. [unclear, both speaking]
MS: Yes, but why? We’re talking about the most densely populated territory in the world, a million, a million and a half people, under siege for 7 years. 7 years of siege and blockade, a blockade declared illegal by the entire international community and we haven’t raised a single finger to stop it. This year, we celebrate the terrible 7th anniversary of the siege for a civilian population who’s undergoing in this moment the bombardment and we’re also celebrating another terrible anniversary, the ten year anniversary of the decision by the International Court of Justice which declared the wall, the construction of the separation wall by Israel, illegal and demanded that the international community act. And in this situation, in this situation of oppression, of colonial repression, our President of the Republic has nothing better to do than explain to us that it’s Israel who’s the victim. [speaking over each other]
Announcer 2: But we must make the distinction between the Palestinian civilian population which is suffering and Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by the US…
MS: It’s a label, Hamas? These are people, all right? There are thousands of Hamas militants. There are also militants from other factions in Gaza and everyone there is being oppressed. In any event, the question, how should I put it, the Israeli government has ordered the eradication of Hamas, but why? We have to at least glance at the chronology here, a chronology that nobody has bothered to mention in this country, either. We had, after the failure of the negotiations, the formation of a national unity government with Mahmoud Abbas for the Palestinian Authority including Hamas, OK? And they were planning on bringing Gaza back into the Palestinian fold since Gaza is currently excluded and isolated. From that moment onwards, as Netanyahu’s government has said, it said that it will not accept it. Although the US and the EU accepted this national unity government. And he said that he would attack Hamas… [talking over each other]
Announcer 2: There were…
MS: But the kidnapping of the 3 colonists, for which Hamas has never claimed responsibility and even if it turns out that they had nothing to do with the whole affair, many people think they did and from that came the order for eradication. [speaking over each other]
Announcer 2: The truce, the proposal for mediation from Egypt was accepted by Israel but was rejected by Hamas.
MS: Because, and I hate to say it, but you continue to adopt this attitude which is essentially that of Israel, it’s an attitude… [speaking over each other]
Announcer 2: No, I don’t have any attitude…
MS: What I mean by that is, in the interpretation of the facts, there is a strong tendency, and it’s more or less “normal”, to adhere to the Israeli vision. Israel’s vision is a colonial vision: “We repress and when we decide…” [speaking over each other]
Announcer 2: … the images from today, [unclear] we don’t adhere to the Israeli vision…
MS: OK, absolutely. Let me just finish my sentence: “We repress and when we decide on a truce, we decide on an unconditional truce”, which for Hamas is surrender, pure and simple. There can be no talk of a truce if there is no raising of the blockade. All the organizations which are protesting in France, especially the National Collective [National Collective for a Just and Durable Peace between Israelis and Palestinians –ndlr] demand this. The raising of the blockade, put an end to the blockade, OK? There’s no question of a truce when an agreement was passed which permitted the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit when now those same prisoners have been recaptured and re-imprisoned, if they’re not liberated…
Announcer 2: Let’s return one last time to those protests Saturday which, for the moment, aren’t yet banned. There were however some incidents last weekend. Were you at the protest last Sunday?
MS: I was at the protest and I’ve given testimony about it, through the press, you can find these articles in the Nouvel Observateur, on the Internet and on social media sites. There was and today, the Daily [Mail]… I don’t know what it’s called, the American newspaper published, because the major media organizations in France didn’t think it noteworthy to publish, videos and pieces of evidence which prove beyond any doubt that this was a trap. Several days before the Saturday demonstration, there was a call to assemble before the synagogue on the Rue de la Roquette [in Paris, near the demonstration path], a gathering to support Israel and this was on the JDL website; it was called, by the way, “Keep Calm and Kill Hamas”(in English) It was, it’s interesting however to learn that apparently one can have this kind of gathering in front of or in these places of worship and there was an entire preparation for an attack on the pro-Palestinian protests which can be found on the Internet. We have the proof, we have screenshots, etc. And we ourselves witnessed the JDL’s provocations, which were absolutely calmed by our security volunteers and which were designed to draw people towards the Rue de la Roquette, clearly so that they could declare [anti-semitism.] It’s an old trick, you know, if you’ve lost the battle, the battle for popularity, in this country, there’s a well-known button you always press and that’s the button of anti-semitism. And I would just like to…
Announcer 1: Quickly, please. Very quickly. Go ahead.
MS: OK, I’d like to just say that there are protests across the entire world, not just in France. There are protests in front of the press headquarters, in front of the major newspapers and media, notably in England in front of the BBC, to demand that the truth be told. There is one country in the world which plans on prohibiting these protests in support of Gaza and that’s France.
Announcer 1: Thank you very much.
Announcer 2: Thank you.