Friday, October 07, 2011

A French state? What a silly idea!

This week the President of France, Nicky Sakozy, announced that the
very notion of a "Jewish State" is a silly idea. See the report here:

Well, it occurs to me that if you REALLY want to find a truly silly
idea, it is the idea of a French state.

I reprint here an older posting of mine:

Land for Peace: The French Solution
by Steven Plaut
Middle East Quarterly
June 2000, p. 96

On a recent trip to Israel, French prime minister Lionel Jospin urged
Israel to make concessions for peace. More interesting yet, in
documents relating to his visit, Jerusalem was called the "capital of
the Palestinian Authority." And what does he consider the capital of
Israel? Tel Aviv, of course.1 This trip followed by a few years one
made by President Jacques Chirac, who used the occasion of his visit
in 1996 to announce that "Syria has a moral right to demand return of
the Golan Heights."2

These French politicians may be on to something important. Never one
to back down from a challenge, I have prepared a set of proposals for
consideration by the French people, so they too can achieve a full,
lasting, and just peace with their historic opponents.

First, we all agree that territory must not be annexed by force.
Therefore, we can also agree that Germany has a moral right to demand
the return of Alsace-Lorraine, for the French aggression in 1945 and
its consequent occupation must not be rewarded. "A full withdrawal for
full peace" should operate here. Further, France must agree to the
return and rehabilitation of all ethnic Germans expelled from
Alsace-Lorraine after World Wars I and II, as well as all those they
define as their descendents.

But this, of course, is just the first step toward a solution, as no
aggression can be rewarded—and France has much other stolen territory
to return. It took Corsica from Genoa, Nice and Savoy from Piedmont;
as the successor state, Italy must get back all these lands. By
similar token, territories grabbed from the Habsburgs go back to
Austria, including Franche-Comté, Artois, and historic Burgundy. The
Roussillon area (along the Pyrenées) must be returned to Spain, its
rightful owner. And Normandy, Anjou, Aquitaine, and Gascony must be
returned to their rightful owners, the British royal family.

Not even this not enough for the sake of peace. Brittany and Languedoc
must be granted autonomy at once, recognizing the Breton and Occitan
Liberation organizations as their legal rulers. This leaves the French
government in control over the Île de France (the area around Paris).

That, however, still does not solve the problem of the Holy City of
Paris, sacred to artists, gourmets, and adulterers. The Corsicans
obviously have a historic claim to the Tomb of the Emperor Napoleon,
their famed son, as well as the Invalides complex and beyond. For the
sake of peace, is it not too much to ask that Paris be the capital for
two peoples? The French authorities must agree to prevent French
Parisians from even entering the sacred tomb area, lest this upset the

The Saint Chapelle and the Church of Notre Dame of course will be
internationalized, under joint Vatican-art historical auspices.
Indeed, the French should consider it a compliment of the highest
order that so many people see Paris as an international city.

The French have nothing to complain of. They will enjoy the benefits
of peace and retain control of the Champs Elysées.

Actually, come to think of it, even the Champs Elysées may be too
much. Recalling the French position that Jerusalem is not the capital
of Israel, perhaps the true French capital is not Paris at all, but

Steven Plaut teaches at the University of Haifa.
1 The Jerusalem Post, Feb. 24, 2000.
2 The Jerusalem Post, Oct. 23, 1996

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