Fundamentally Freund: Solidarity with France should be a two-way street
Instead of undercutting the Jewish state at every opportunity, the French would at last do well to realize that the solidarity we show toward them is worthy of being reciprocated.
By MICHAEL FREUND
In the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday, Israel along with much of the rest of the civilized world reacted with a mix of revulsion, anger and resolve.Putting aside disagreements on a range of international issues, the Jewish state voiced its full support for France and its people, which is precisely what friends do in one another’s hour of need.This is as it should be, especially when two democracies find themselves beset by the same vicious foe. But in light of France’s past policies in the Middle East, the question one cannot help but ask is whether French leaders would do the same vis-à-vis Israel if and when the tables were turned.After all, shouldn’t solidarity between countries be a twoway street? Consider for a moment Israel’s public and full-throated support for Paris over the past few days. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon likened the coordinated assaults on the French capital to a world war with Islamic extremism, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved quickly to instruct Israel’s vaunted security services to share any relevant intelligence information about the perpetrators with their Parisian counterparts.On Saturday night, thousands of Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv to show support for the City of Light. Participants waved French and Israeli flags, held signs reading “Tel Aviv stands with Paris,” and even sang the French national anthem as city hall was illuminated in the red, white and blue tricolors of the French flag.The moving display prompted French Ambassador Patrick Maisonnave to describe the Tel Aviv gathering as “vivid testimony to the fact that France is not alone in this struggle.”Indeed, the heartfelt Israeli response demonstrated that while Paris may be over 3,000 kilometers away, the Jewish people identify with the trauma and suffering enveloping the French nation and back their determination to defeat Islamic State.AdvertisementSadly, however, France has repeatedly failed to show a similar level of sympathy when Palestinian terrorists have attacked Israel. If anything, the French have shown a penchant for undermining the Jewish state and bolstering its enemies. Just look at its behavior over the past 15 months.Last year, in August 2014 during Operation Protective Edge, when Israel sought to put an end to Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius shamefully denounced Israel’s defensive measures as “the killing of children and the massacre of civilians.”This was not only a blatant and outlandish lie, it was akin to resurrecting the imagery of a medieval blood libel.And by engaging in such moral obfuscation, Fabius was blurring the lines between Hamas and its innocent Israeli victims.Barely four months later, on December 2, 2014, the lower house of the French parliament overwhelmingly approved a non-binding resolution recognizing a Palestinian state by a margin of 339 to 151, even though such a move only served to strengthen Palestinian unilateralism and obstructionism.That was followed by France’s January 2015 vote in the UN Security Council in favor of a resolution on Palestinian statehood. The draft, which just missed garnering the requisite nine votes needed to pass, demanded a complete Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 armistice lines by the end of 2017. In other words, it sought to impose a solution on the Jewish state while disregarding its security and interests.Are these the actions of a friend? Earlier this summer, France stubbornly continued to twist Israel’s arm, this time proposing to submit yet another resolution to the UN Security Council that would prejudge the outcome of any negotiations by formally recognizing a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rightly noted in response, the French move would “push us into accepting indefensible borders while completely ignoring what will be on the other side of the border.”France, of course, has also supported the European Union’s discriminatory decision to apply special labels to products made by Jewish-owned factories – but not Muslim ones! – in Judea and Samaria.And at the height of the Palestinian terrorist campaign last month, the French reacted by calling for international observers to be deployed on the Temple Mount, a proposal which implicitly suggested that Israeli policies, rather than Palestinian incitement, were somehow at fault for the inflamed situation in the region.In light of the Paris attacks, the time has come for French President Francois Hollande to realize that his country and Israel are in the same boat, and to reassess France’s lopsided pro-Palestinian policy.Hollande and his colleagues need to understand that there is no real difference between a Palestinian terrorist who stabs an 80-year old Israeli woman on a bus in Rishon Lezion and an IS fanatic who shoots Frenchmen at a Parisian brasserie. Both are evil, and both share a bottomless hatred for Israel and the West.So instead of undercutting the Jewish state at every opportunity, the French would at last do well to realize that the solidarity we show toward them is worthy of being reciprocated.