Scenes from an ideological war – on the rue d’Ulm

And (yet again) the silence of the pseudo-liberals.

This is a guest post by Paul Leslie

Born in 1942 in Constantine, Algeria, Raphael Draï is a well known political scientist and thinker (professor of the philosophy of law at the Université d’Aix-Marseille III, etc.) and prolific author who, far from just being a narrow specialist, has distinguished himself in several areas of knowledge. A regular columnist for the French Jewish monthly L’Arche he has long been actively involved in several worthy endeavours, including inter-religious dialogue, working with organizations like l’Observatoire du Religieux.

He recently took part in an academic round table dealing with the various aspects of Zionist history, and intended to explore political and philosophical concepts in the course of the various interventions, at the prestigious École Normale Supérieure (which has long had the reputation of being the place where France’s political elites are trained). This forum had been organized partly at the instigation of a pro-Israel student group – there having been a day long symposium on the 12th December 2009 in which Shlomo Sand.had been given a chance to promote the arguments, based both upon demonstrable falsehoods and upon dishonest interpretations of historical facts, in his book about the “invention” of the Jewish people (See ) “Scènes de Guerre – Idéologique – A Normale Sup’. Un témoignage (A la mémoire de Joseph Kessel)”)

From the very beginning there were systematic attempts to sabotage this academic gathering by means of intimidation. About twenty members of a student audience of roughly sixty people repeatedly abused members of the panel (the other participants were professors Yves-Charles Zarka of the Sorbonne (Université de Paris V) and Elhanan Takira of the Hebrew University): “Zionists!”, “Nazis”, “Child murderers”, against a background of “Gaza! Checkpoints! The wall! Apartheid! Goldstone! Murderers!”

Eventually the anti-Israeli thugs, after unfurling Palestinian flags, decided to leave the Dussane lecture theatre.

Does such an incident mark an escalation in the strategy of intimidation attempting to silence pro-Israeli voices or even simply people who deal with the Arab-Israeli conflict in an honest and objective way? At any rate it is not only Israel’s official representatives who are now being targeted.

As Professor Draï remarked during a brief pause in the aforementioned verbal abuse: “If there are any fascist, racists and Nazis here, it is clearly at the back of the amphitheatre that they are to be found. They remind me of the fate reserved, in the inter-war period, to the jurist Georges Scelle, who was literally banned from giving classes by students of the extreme right. But we are no longer any more in this period. My dismay does not come from your attitude which appears to me to be a case for the psychiatrists. It comes from (an awareness of) the place where we find ourselves, with which the names of Bergson, Durkheim, Jaurès, Aron, Sartre, are associated – just to give these examples. What you are doing does not seem dangerous either for the Jews of France or the state of Israel – they have been through much more – but for French democracy. For we are, aren’t we, at the École Normale Supérieure, rue d’Ulm in Paris?”

Words which not only the powers that be at various French authorities would do well to consider. I am thinking of, amongst others, the master of St.Edmund’s Hall, Oxford (who was correct in not taking action as long as a prosecution against Noor Rashid, on film and on YouTube, was being contemplated – if not for incitement to murder, then for another serious public order offence – but now it has been unjustifiably discontinued by the CPS …), and Manchester University’s academic authorities.

Needless to say this incident at the École Normale has not received any significant media coverage.