Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Even French Courts Defend Freedom of Speech (in contrast with Israeli courts)
1. More on Israelis for a Hamas Victory:
2. French Court Dismisses Malicious SLAPP "Libel" Suit against Jewish
PARIS (EJP)--- French-Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut has been
discharged by a Paris court after being sued by an Israeli film director
whom he described as "one of the current actors of Jewish anti-Semitism".
Interviewed in 2003 on the French Jewish radio RJC about Eyal Sivan's
film, "Route 181, fragments d'un voyage en Palestine-Israel" (Road 181,
Extracts from a Palestinian-Israeli journey), which was broadcast on a TV
station, Finkielkraut called the film maker "one of the actors of today's
particularly hard and frightening Jewish anti-Semitism".
The philosopher criticised Sivan for having made a link between the
Israeli treatment of the Palestinians and the Holocaust.
"But those who are sewing a Star of David on our chest want to claim the
yellow star for themselves," Finkielkraut said at the time.
Eyal Sivan, a leftwing militant, decided to sue Finkielkraut for his
"slanderous words which constitute an infringement to my honour and
In the past, Eyal Sivan has supported actively the boycott of Israeli
products in order to denounce Israeli policies towards the Palestinians.
Israeli professor and former ambassador to France Eli Barnavi testified in
court for Alain Finkielkraut while two other Israeli professors, among
them Haim Bresheeth, testified in favour of Sivan.
Film maker Eyal Sivan
Finkielkraut, who also received the support of Claude Lanzmann, director
of the famous film "Shoah", said that he reacted to the "violent
unilateral character" of Sivan's movie which represents the history of
Israeli-Palestinian relations "as the aggression of one people crazed by
the Shoah against a profoundly peaceful people."
"I don't know why this man is indignant about being called anti-Semitic,
that's what he is," Lanzmann said when he testified in favour of
Sivan's "Road 81" film was distributed in small independent Paris
The film maker accused Finkielkraut of being one of those people "ready to
fight against the last Israeli citizen, including myself, to preserve the
state of Israel". "This is not my position," he added.
The court rejected Sivan's complaint.
"Finkielkraut only credited the other side with intellectual attitudes and
never attributed a precise fact which could be proved," the presiding
judge, Nicolas Bonnal, said.
"Above all he gave a critical analysis of Sivan's work and of its
political positions," he added.
Sivan told EJP he was surprised by the ruling.
"It is clear to me that I was the victim of defamation," he stressed.
"This has nothing to do with a simple opinion debate."
In another case, Finkielkraut has been sued and accused of libel by French
anti-racist association MRAP (Movement Against Racism and for Friendship
Among Peoples) for comments made during a conference in 2003 on
''Anti-Semitism: the Left against itself''.
In a reference to the failure of the Durban conference on racism in 2001,
Finkielkraut said: "a movement was created in Durban against racism and
for popular anti-Semitism".
Comments about French identity
MRAP's president Mouloud Aounit, took it as a personal attack and accused
Finkielkraut of hinting that MRAP was anti-Semitic. A public prosecutor
representative has asked for Finkielkraut's discharge. The decision will
be made shortly.
Finkielkraut, who is one of France's most notable French intellectuals
along with two other Jews, Bernard-Henri Levy and Andr Glucksmann, already
made headlines at the end of last year when he had to apologize for
comments about the riots which took place around France in an interview
with Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
In the interview, Finkielkraut underlined that many immigrant do not
identify with France.
"If immigrants say 'the French' when they are referring to the whites,
then we are lost. If their identity is located somewhere else and they're
only in France for utilitarian reasons, then we're lost.
"I have to admit that the Jews are also starting to use this France. I say
to them, 'if for your France is a utilitarian matter, but your identity is
Judaism, then be honest with yourself: you have Israel."
Some of Finkielkraut's answers were translated to French and published in
the national newspaper Le Monde before they grew into a general
controversy and condemnation of Finkielkraut, who was accused of racism.
From left to right
Considered as a free-speaker in politically-correct France, Alain
Finkielkraut has been described by some as one of the leading
"neo-reactionary" figures along with interior minister and presidential
candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy.
Finkielkraut started his career as a militant of the left but drifted
through the years to the right, making many enemies on the way.
In 2005 he strongly defended a petition against anti-white racism in
French suburbs. Controversial French comic Dieudonne told EJP Finkielkraut
was "one of his main enemies."
The philosopher claims he is being harassed by his opponents with repeated
lawsuits but other intellectuals accuse him in private of provoking
controversies in order to get publicity and sell more books.
Finkielkraut has a weekly show on national French radio and on the Jewish
Afterword: Had Sivan been allowed to forum shop the suit into Nazareth
Court, Finkelkraut would have been found guilty of "slander", as would
Deborah Lipstadt. David Irving however would have been awarded a large
cash award in damages.
3. Campus Delusions on Diversity:
4. Tough - Redux:
5. From the Jewish Press, July 5, 06:
I was speechless after reading Allyson Rowen Taylor.s superb article
(.Plaut Verdict A Symptom Of Israel.s Sick Judiciary,. op-ed, June 30)
about an Arab judge in Israel endorsing Holocaust denial while ruling that
treason is protected speech but criticism of treason constitutes
This matter cannot be allowed to stand. I invite all Jewish Press
readers to take a few moments to act. First, please write the Israeli
minister of justice and demand that this judge be removed at once from the
bench. Letters should be sent to Haim Ramon, Minister of Justice, Ministry
of Justice, Salah-a-Din 29 P.O.Box 49029 Jerusalem 91490 (Fax:
And please write the new president of Ben Gurion University, Professor
Rivka Carmi, at Ben Gurion University, P.O. Box 653, Beer-Sheva 84105
Israel (e-mail: email@example.com.) Tell her that Ben Gurion
University will not be receiving a dime in support from us and our
communities as long as extremists like Neve Gordon serve as members of the
faculty, and that we will be advising parents not to send their children
to Ben Gurion University until this outrage is redressed.
Passaic, NJ and Holon, Israel
6. Ivory Tower Fascism: