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Betrayal: France, the Arabs and the Jews [Hardcover]

David Pryce-Jones
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 Dec 2006
France has done more damage to the Middle East than any other country. One aim of these policies was to sponsor the Arabs' belief that they could be incorporated into a Franco-Arab power bloc that might one day rival the United States. Simultaneously, France encouraged the mass immigration of Arabs. A huge and growing minority in this country now believes that they have rights and claims which have not been met.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 185 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books,USA (25 Dec 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594031517
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594031519
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2 x 23.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,210,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Partisan, but informative 21 Dec 2006
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The thesis of this short and somewhat scrappily written book is that French diplomacy has almost consistently favoured Arabs over Jews. In the Third and Fourth Republic, foreign ministers changed so frequently that foreign policy was largely shaped by the exclusive élite in the Quai d'Orsay, the French Foreign Office. This élite was motivated in part by a deep-rooted antisemitism of the kind that had produced the Dreyfus case, and in part by France's ambitions to be `une puissance musulmane' - that is to say, the premier European nation to exert its influence in Muslim North Africa and the Middle East. (He does not mention the influence of Arabists in the British Foreign Office also.) The Presidents of the Fifth Republic, while mostly acquitted of personal antisemitism, were equally determined to promote French interests in the Middle East by aligning themselves with the Arabs.

In pursuit of this theory, Pryce-Jones has studied the archives of the Quai d'Orsay, and selected from them a mass of documents by French diplomats at home and abroad which express the grossest antisemitism. In 1921 the French representative on the Mandates Commission forwarded to the French foreign minister the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as conveying the fact of a Jewish conspiracy. Another diplomat in his memoirs, published in 1953 (!) even asserted that Léon Blum had been a German agent!

Naturally, therefore, the Quai d'Orsay was hostile to Zionism from the beginning, partly because it encouraged Jews to see themselves as a nation, and partly because the French had believed that the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 had allocated Palestine to a `Syrie intégrale', to be controlled by France; and they felt thwarted when it became a British mandate instead.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocked 22 Jun 2012
By Lionel
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This well written book shocked me to the core. It made me realise why we Jews have to always look over our shoulder.
The deceit of the French in their dealings with Israel, America and Great Britain beggars belief. The book tells of how khomeini puchased half a million red plastic keys from China (the keys to paradise) and gave them to Iranian children promising them that when they walked into the Iraqi minefields in order to clear a way for the Iranian army their deaths would earn them a place in paradise and they would each enjoy their own 70 virgins.
Who was the only country willing to take in khomeini-France. Which country helped him to sieze power in Iran-France.
Who armed Sadam Hussein to the hilt, not America but France.
Read this book and you will also be shocked
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
By Owen MO
Format:Hardcover
This is a fascinating book - meticulous and well-researched.The text is easy to follow and I found the book much easier to read than the heavy-sounding subject matter would have suggested. The chapters on Ruhollah Khomeini and Haj Amin al-Husseini were the most interesting to me. One feels outrage that the French state helped both of these characters - one to set up a theocratic dictatorship and the other to escape from his involvement with genocidal fascism. But what is more extraordianry is that French civil-servants could delude themselves that these actions would lead to some sort of "special relationship" with islam. Coupled with their backstabbing attitude towards Israel the reader can be forgiven for concluding that French anti-jewish sentiment is as virulent as it was during the Dreyfus affair - which is where Pryce-Jones' excellent book starts.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The French Take On Multiculturalism 2 Mar 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
With several European leaders recently (2011) stating that multiculturalism is a failure (among them Nicolas Sarkozy) 'Betrayal: France, the Arabs, and the Jews' provides much of the history of Franco-Arab relations and France's attitude to both Muslims and Jews in today's society.

France's current predicament, David Pryce-Jones argues, is due to French leaders and bureaucratic elites consistently pursuing a foreign policy at odds with French ideals. These have betrayed the French people and destroyed any chance for peace in the Middle East. Further still, if there is a clash of civilisations, then France will have done much to bring it about. This then is not only a short history of the country's meddling in the Middle East, it is the very evidence for the creation of what we today call multiculturalism.

This policy stems back to the colonial era in order to exploit its 'subjects', because, as Pryce-Jones puts it, France thought it was well placed to take advantage of the Arab world. It did not occur to the French leaders at the time that the Arabs or the Muslim world might one day be in a position to take advantage of France.

The book covers a wide range of incidents, all based on one simple policy; giving the Muslim world what it wants in the hopes of gaining power and prestige in the Middle East, and through it the world.

With Pryce-Jones introducing the France of today (the book came out shortly after the 2005 Muslim riots; so bad President Chirac declared a
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
99 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The French Connection....to the Arabs 16 Dec 2006
By Frank Bunyard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
David Pryce-Jones has written a brief, readable and illuminating account of France's Middle East foreign policy, starting with Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion of Egypt in 1798, the French invasion of Algeria in 1830, and continuing to the present day.

France's motive was to emulate and even surpass the British Empire. "The British might have India, but the French would move into, and ultimately colonize, the Arab World." The institution most responsible for the attempt to realize this grandiose scheme was The Foreign Ministry, referred to in France as "Quai d'Orsay." Pryce-Jones gained (through an anonymous source) access to the archives of Quai d'Orsay, and his researches are the basis for his book, "Betrayal".

Early on the French conceived their grand France-Arab empire as "une puissance musulmane" - "A Muslim Power." And this fantasy dovetailed neatly with the anti-Semitism that had long existed in France and reached its height during the Vichy occupation by Germany.

The main part of Pryce-Jones' study shows how these two ideologies, anti-Semitism and pro-Arabism, have made France an unreliable ally of Western values and interests. This was true of the lead-up to WWI, the inter-war period, and modernity since the conclusion of WWII. Many instances of French perfidy in dealings with the Western Powers, and particularly the United States, are related in compelling detail. Anti-Americanism fit well with Anti-Semitism to advance France's standing with the Arabs and these became recurring themes in the machinations of the Quay d'Orsay.

Yet, in one of those fateful ironies of history, France is now beset by a demographic explosion of unassimilated Islamic Arabs within its own borders. One out of every three children born in France is Islamic. Arabs and Muslim youth routinely go on riots, shouting "Allahu Akbar", burning cars and vandalizing property. In 2005 there were 110,206 recorded incidents of urban violence, and 45,588 vehicles had been burned. This seems incredible, but Pryce-Jones provides the documentation.

The lust for empire and power have resulted in the betrayal of democracy in France, as well as its own national interest. Yet France continues to behave in defiance of reality, assuming that it has to pursue its own political agenda regardless of the present day context of Islamic expansion and militancy. This context of political Islam that France has aided and abetted now threatens France, the entire continent of Europe, and all the West.
89 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history of French diplomacy and designs in the Middle East 10 Jan 2007
By Craig Matteson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If the behavior of France in the Gulf War (Kuwait) and in the War on Terror have mystified you, this book provides a most helpful history of French diplomacy and international goals since the nineteenth century. France has viewed itself as an Arab / Muslim power (they are not quite identical) since colonial times. Since World War II, France has had to play a spoiler role in certain international dealings in order to claim some relevance for itself. It was Chirac who kept the Clinton sponsored accords between Israel and Arafat from being signed. It was France that Saddam looked towards to keep the United States from invading in the current conflict. And rather than France having increasing influence in the Arab world, it is the Arab-Muslim world that is transforming France both politically and culturally.

Contrary to some notions of this book, it is NOT about proving that France is anti-Semitic. The arguments in the book are more complex than that. To my reading, David Pryce-Jones demonstrates how France's long standing view of the world and its place therein has made a profound contribution to our current troubles and their own confused situation. Anti-Semitism has been a part of the tradition and history of the French Foreign Affairs Ministry - referred to as the Quai d'Orsay because of where its headquarters are, and is reflected increasingly in its policies towards Israel, but this is not the focus of the book.

The book opens with the current state of Arab unrest inside France and the rising number of blatant attacks against Jews because they are Jews. The author then begins to tie it to a centuries old anti-Jewish tradition of with the French diplomatic class. More than one French diplomat has expressed the idea that the only real future for the Jews is to assimilate and to cease to be Jews (others have said this as well, but not from the diplomatic corps in an ongoing way).

The role and tension between French Designs in the Arab world and Zionism is also discussed, as is the role of the French in saving the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin, from being tried with the Nazis after WWII. The author also later compares the French attitude towards Haj Amin with its treatment of the Ayatollah Khomeini and its protection of him and its aid to his return and rise to power in Iran.

A great deal of the book also discusses the connection between the literary culture and the foreign ministry and the anti-Jewish subjects and treatments by certain authors over the past century and more. It is most interesting to read how virulent some of them are and how those strains exhibit themselves even today.

The discussions of France and Saddam and Yassir Arafat are also quite enlightening and how France has dragged its feet and worse to try and thwart U.S. power and goals in the region. The author notes that France had hoped to have the influence in Iraq with its huge oil reserves as the U.S. has with Saudi Arabia and its oil.

All this and more makes the current behavior of France more understandable if no less frustrating. I think it is a must read if you want to understand our current relationship with France and its history in the Middle East.
37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Partisan but informative 21 Dec 2006
By Ralph Blumenau - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The thesis of this short and somewhat scrappily written book is that French diplomacy has almost consistently favoured Arabs over Jews. In the Third and Fourth Republic, foreign ministers changed so frequently that foreign policy was largely shaped by the exclusive élite in the Quai d'Orsay, the French Foreign Office. This élite was motivated in part by a deep-rooted antisemitism of the kind that had produced the Dreyfus case, and in part by France's ambitions to be `une puissance musulmane' - that is to say, the premier European nation to exert its influence in Muslim North Africa and the Middle East. (He does not mention the influence of Arabists in the British Foreign Office also.) The Presidents of the Fifth Republic, while mostly acquitted of personal antisemitism, were equally determined to promote French interests in the Middle East by aligning themselves with the Arabs.

In pursuit of this theory, Pryce-Jones has studied the archives of the Quai d'Orsay, and selected from them a mass of documents by French diplomats at home and abroad which express the grossest antisemitism. In 1921 the French representative on the Mandates Commission forwarded to the French foreign minister the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as conveying the fact of a Jewish conspiracy. Another diplomat in his memoirs, published in 1953 (!) even asserted that Léon Blum had been a German agent!

Naturally, therefore, the Quai d'Orsay was hostile to Zionism from the beginning, partly because it encouraged Jews to see themselves as a nation, and partly because the French had believed that the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 had allocated Palestine to a `Syrie intégrale', to be controlled by France; and they felt thwarted when it became a British mandate instead. Pryce-Jones says that `France took whatever diplomatic measures were available in the United Nations and behind the scenes to avert and delay the crucial vote of November 29, 1947' which accepted a Jewish state, though in the end she was unable to hold out against the recognition of the state of Israel. (He does not explain why France did not simply abstain, as the British did.) But French diplomats in Israel consistently sent hostile despatches back to their foreign office. One of them described the Israeli leaders as behaving no better than the Nazis; others are equally critical and snide about its Jewish character of the state. Always there is the hankering after the old position when France was the protector and champion of Catholic institutions in the Holy Land, the fear that `our grandeur in the Levant' was being compromised and that any warmth towards Israel would damage French relations with the Arabs.

The irony was that there could be no good relations between France and the Arabs while Arab nationalists in the Maghreb sought to free themselves from French colonial rule, and were supported in this endeavour by Nasser's Egypt. With Egypt as a common enemy, in the run-up to the Suez War the Ministry of Defence wanted to supply Israel with weapons, while the Quay d'Orsay did its best to block their delivery. No wonder, then, that the Quay d'Orsay was kept out of the loop by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister when they planned their collaboration with Israel in the Suez War of 1956. The French ambassador at the time, Pierre Gilbert, was one of the few pro-Israeli diplomats, and Pryce-Jones mentions three others later on, without explaining how they came to be appointed by post-Suez governments which he describes as basically hostile to Israel.

For in 1958 De Gaulle came to power. He let the Maghreb go and so drew the sting of Arab resentment of France, which could then revert to the policy of the Quay d'Orsay of restoring France's role as `une puissance musulmane'. Besides, he saw Israel as too close an ally of the United States whose influence he challenged whenever possible. In the 1967 war De Gaulle stopped all shipments of arms to Israel, protested against the reunification of Jerusalem, and burst out in a famous antisemitic statement about the Jews being `an elite people, self-assured and domineering, with a burning ambition for conquest'.

The line set by De Gaulle was continued by his successors: Pompidou complained that Israel appealed for support to Jews in other countries; Giscard d'Estaing criticized the 1978 Camp David Agreement between Egypt and Israel; Mitterand's foreign minister thought that the assassination of Sadat was therefore a positive event. It was the French who took the initiative in Europe and at the UN for recognizing the PLO; and they courted and supplied with arms every Arab dictator: first Gaddafi, then Saddam Hussein; they supported the exiled Khomeini against the pro-American Shah, and when Khomeini came to power in Iran and was involved in a war against Iraq, they supplied both countries with weapons. Chirac staged the famous outburst against his Israeli security guards on a visit to the Old City. He opposed sanctions against Saddam Hussein, and his announcement in advance that he would veto `the second resolution' at the UN legitimizing the second Iraq War encouraged Saddam to thwart the weapons inspectors, with consequences we all know. He was also the only Western leader to attend the funeral of Hafiz al-Assad of Syria and to visit Arafat when he lay dying in a French military hospital.

I think that Pryce-Jones has proved his point that French diplomats have for the most part supported the Arabs against Israel. Whether that justifies the provocative title of the book is, however, another matter. Pryce-Jones is so totally committed to the Israeli side that he never shows any awareness either that Israel's policy towards the Arabs is not entirely beyond criticism or that all nations try to maximize their influence in the Middle East and tend to work against those who would erode it. Valuable though the information in this book is, its tone is decidedly partisan.
47 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Even surprising for a Frenchman of Jewish origin 2 Jan 2007
By Benjamin Teitelbaum - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have to make to simple comments about the revelations made by David in his book. First, whilst I was aware of the Quai d'Orsay's position regarding Israel and the Arab states, I have to admit I was shocked by the pervasive anti-Semitism which in great part determined the French foreign policy for much of the 19th, 20th and I question even the present positioning. Second, the pro-Arab foreign policy of the French Government does not reflect the general feelings of the French population nor of the French military. What this book does reveal is how France's effort to become and maintain itself as a World Power has been based in great part on an anti Anglo-Saxon and to some degree anti-capitalist approach. France has tried to be "the alternative" to liberalism in theory whilst reaping the benefits of trade with countries ambivalent to the growing strength of American and British capitalism. This book is a must read. Criticism may be directed at the author for putting too much strength on the anti-Semitic rational for France's foreign policy but not bringing this information in the way he has would have done a great disservice to a needed debate on the subject. I hope that a French translation of this book will be produced. The debate needs to take place in France where the Quay d'Orsay has for too long been able to separate Foreign Policy from a democratic debate at the national level.

Benjamin Teitelbaum
35 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unpleasant France 8 Dec 2006
By Christian Schlect - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A good case is laid out that many of the current problems between Arabs and Israel can be laid directly at the doorstep of the Quai d'Orsay. France's misguided policies over many years have been driven by anti-Americanism, a desire to keep a colonial toehold in North Africa and the Levant, and religious intolerance towards the Jew. This argument rings true to my ear.

Short chapters, shorn of unnecessary verbiage, help make Mr. Pryce-Jones' book a pleasant reading experience.
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