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Greta Berlin

Myths around the French ban on pro-Palestine protests

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Paris were interrupted by violence [AFP]

Date of publication: 16 April, 2015

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Comment: You can't keep the French from protesting. And the much hyped ban on pro-Palestinian protests was more about pro-Israel violence and lasted only for half a protest.

During the 51 dark days for Gaza in July and August 2014, hundreds of thousands marched against Israeli barbarity, from major cities like New York to municipalities like Worchester, UK. We raised our collective voices in outrage over the massacres of women, old men and children by the world’s 5th largest military.


And we marched in France as well. In cities and towns around France, we raised the Palestinian flag, spoke out about Israel’s genocidal attacks that murdered over 2,500, mostly civilians.


     The ban is gone. It was enforced for one half of one protest. Viva la France, Viva la Palestina.

But you wouldn’t know that after the outcry over France becoming the first country in the world to ban pro-Palestinian protests. It was a myth. But it is one that has persisted, threading through social media sites.


The reality is very different. Socialist Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve wanted demonstrations to halt in Paris because of the threat of violence from the Jewish Defense League (JDL) who had attacked marchers on July 13 and baited them into fighting.

Ironically, no JDL thugs were arrested, despite video evidence showing them smashing up property in full view of the police. The stories gave equal weight to ‘violence among Palestinian supporters’ failing to mention (until the video was released several days later) that the source was the JDL, an organisation that is on the US terrorist list.

Video evidence

There were no attacks on synagogues, but there were JDL attacks on peaceful demonstrators exercising their right to be heard. When asked at the time why he would try to pass such an onerous law, Cazeneauve replied, “I fear there might be a repeat of the fights between ‘ultra’ Jewish vigilantes and pro-Palestinians.” He clearly knew who started the fights, calling the agitators, “ultra-Jewish vigilantes.”


In an interview with the president of the synagogue, Serge Benhaim confirmed that the building was never attacked in any way.


Of course, French protestors ignored this draconian law, and the demonstration in Paris continued the next week as did demonstrations around the country. But it’s important to realize how pro-Zionists spin the story, shouting about anti-Semitism when they began the fight. As politicians lined up to denounce the Palestinian point of view and insisted that both Paris and Nice cancel their demonstrations, they continued anyhow. Our demonstration in Nice was a great success as were the marches in Marseilles, Lyon and a dozen other French cities.


According to one American eyewitness of the demonstration that continued in Paris on the 20th of July, “…The most incredible moment of the protest took place at Montmartre…With their flags and banners, they made their way to the top of Sacre Coeur and proceeded to walk down the grand, central stairway to Pigale, shouting all the while: ‘Israel assassin, Hollande complice!’ as tourists looked on in amazement. It was an incredibly moving scene – one of the most powerful protests I had ever been to. Minutes later, the police showed up.”


In fact, the ban brought demonstrators out for the next six weeks. You can’t tell the French that they can’t protest. At the demonstration in Nice on July 20, I saw British ex-pats marching next to French North African Muslims and Jews, all in support of Palestine and all outraged over the French socialist government betrayal.


Paris authorities eventually decided to lift the ban on a new protest scheduled for Wednesday July 23, doing so as quietly as they could, realizing that they had been manipulated by stories in the media that had never happened and embarrassed that the videos coming out that day, July 13, clearly showed the JDL as the instigators and bullies.


The ban is gone. It was enforced for one half of one protest. Viva la France, Viva la Palestina.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

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