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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Partisan, but informative, 21 Dec 2006
Ralph Blumenau (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Betrayal: France, the Arabs and the Jews (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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocked, 22 Jun 2012
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Dastardly tricks by the cheese-eating surrender monkeys, 6 Feb 2007
This review is from: Betrayal: France, the Arabs and the Jews (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
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This review is from: Betrayal: France, the Arabs and the Jews (Hardcover)
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 state of emergency), Pryce-Jones then moves on to describe its background, starting with Napoleon's campaign in Egypt. Subsequently, the invasion of Algeria was in order to rival British India; and by France taking the Arab world, it was to become a rival to the British Empire.

From Damascus in 1840, the archives reveal a Jewish blood-libel which the French PM opportunistically amplified; this gives a perfect illustration for the background in France in the run-up to the Dreyfus Affair. Then Pryce-Jones provides the Catholic angle on developments in the Holy Land, with an increasingly anxious Vatican worried about the status of Holy sites; not only because of the Jewish immigrants, but because of the `British heretics'. The scene is then set for the French to exploit and infuriate an already agitated Muslim populous by encouraging anti-Semitism and anti-British sentiments, giving rise to Arab nationalism in the process. Here Pryce-Jones strongly implies France was more than likely behind the Arab riots of 1920 against the Jews.

But not only was the Holy Land the only battleground. In many places in Europe, from Budapest to Bucharest, the rise of Zionism was largely welcomed and encouraged by non-Jews, being seen as something anti-French. This was only to cause the French to further dislike Zionism and the Jews. In much the same way Muslims today equate Jews with evil, the ministers from the Quai in the pre-WWI period were of the same mind. Around this time, a diplomat by the name of Jules Cambon noted that the creation of a Jewish state had one benefit because `They [the Jews] could grow oranges and exploit each other'.

From there, the book goes on to show the period between the two world wars, with the Quai d'Orsay never missing an opportunity to play one side against the other with the Sykes-Picot Agreement (Picot was from the Quai), and then moves onto WWII onwards, with the harbouring of Hajj Amin al-Husseini, and later Ayatollah Khomeini, to protecting Yasser Arafat, to France's opposition to the Iraq war and more.

Another reviewer mentioned that this is a poorly written book, I found only chapters 3 - 7 (out of fifteen) to be somewhat problematic. Normally I would have reduced my rating accordingly, but the mine of interesting information simply make this history book something quite unique. David Pryce-Jones' work provides a much-talked about subject a fresh perspective, an essential read for those interested in seeing how multiculturalism formed, step by step. This book further provides evidence for an official policy of moving Europe towards Eurabia.
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Betrayal: France, the Arabs and the Jews
Betrayal: France, the Arabs and the Jews by David Pryce-Jones (Hardcover - 25 Dec 2006)
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