[Note from Livia Bocadacce: During 2016, social movements in France and in India have been huge and tough. In both countries, youth, workers, students, oppressed people fought against governments who disregarded their desires of freedom and decent life, and have faced violent repression. But in France, we don’t hear about Indian struggles such as Una Dalits’ movement or Hyderabad and JNU students’ protests. In India, the very strong French movement of last spring, called “Nuits Debout”, has aroused very poor coverage. Because we believe we have to learn from the crossed experiences of fighting, because we refuse a globalization only based on trade and forced migrations, because we hope a globalization that could encourage the circulation of critical thinking and collective–action repertoire, we proposed this article on the Nuits debout to Kafila. Hoping it will generate debates and further interests. ]
After a Nuit debout (night standing up), we wake up with a political strike (1)
Living in a moment is always pleasanter than writing about it— it’s always risky to draw conclusions about situations still evolving or to speculate about what they will become. Going on for now over three months [when this post was written – AN], Nuit debout is a new kind of spontaneous, social movement along the lines of « Occupy » and Spain’s « M15 » movement. It has taken on an unanticipated size and importance, all the while developing characteristic features of French society. I won’t go back over its development or its collective spirit. The two texts already published in the May and June issues of the Brooklyn Rail, the first by Anouk Colombani and the second by Ferdinand Cazalis et Emilien Bernard (CQFD, n°143, mai 2016) have provided sufficient detail and clarity to let us grasp the essence and dynamism of these mobilizations.
Extremely disturbing reports of anti-Israeli sentiments spilling over into generalized attacks in France have been coming in lately. This is completely unacceptable. The just cause of the Palestinian people is about occupation of their land by Zionists and all Jews are by no means responsible for the brutality that Israel is exhibiting in its attacks on Gaza, sparing no one and even specifically targeting small children. This is not a religious or a racial issue but one of political justice. Let us make no mistake that any attempt to make it into either a religious or race issue will only harm the Palestinian cause in the long run. Here is an extract from a report in Huffington Post:
France’s politicians and community leaders have criticised the “intolerable” violence against Paris’ Jewish community, after a pro-Palestinian rally led to the vandalizing and looting of Jewish businesses and the burning of cars.
It is the third time in a week where pro-Palestinian activists have clashed with the city’s Jewish residents. On Sunday, locals reported chats of “Gas the Jews” and “Kill the Jews”, as rioters attacked businesses in the Sarcelles district, known as “little Jerusalem”…
Religious leaders gathered for an interfaith service on Monday to call for calm, and Haim Korsia, the chief rabbi of France, and Hassen Chalghoumi, the imam of Drancy shook hands on the steps of the synagogue. Read the full report here
That said, it also needs to be underlined that in this no-holds-barred war, Zionists themselves have been keen and eager to see that the anti-Zionist feeling is transformed rapidly into an anti-Semitic one. Thus Mondoweiss published a Youtube video along with a report that showed that the attack on the synagogue was actually provoked by members of the Jewish Defense League. Mondoweiss’ story has since been confirmed by the President of the Synagogue de la Roquette. His words:
In an interview broadcast Friday on the 24-hour news channel i-Télé, Serge Benhaïm said that there was “not a single projectile thrown at the synagogue” and that “at no moment, were we ever physically in danger.” (“Pas un seul projectile lancé sur la synagogue”. “A aucun moment, nous n’avons été physiquement en danger.”)
While Benhaïm did not describe the street fight outside as resulting from a JDL “provocation”, he did say that the extremist group smashed up a cafe on Rue de la Roquette (“le président de la synagogue de la rue de la Roquette confirme également que la LDJ a ‘cassé des chaises et des tables’) in order to confront pro-Palestinian demonstrators (“pour aller livrer ce face-à-face”). He added that he did not condone the action, and described the JDL as having a “bad reputation” using a French phrase – “une renommée un peu sulfureuse — that is not done justice by a literal translation. Read the full Mondoweiss report here.
There will be – as there are – desperate attempts to drown the groundswell of anti-Israeli sentiment in a flood of outcries of anti-Semitism, by all interested quarters. There is need therefore to see that no quarter is yielded to those who wish to transform the present mood of anti-Zionism into anti-Semitism.