Urge the EU to Stop Cooperation with Israel
Wed Apr 17 2002,
Julio Godoy, Inter Press Service
PARIS, Apr 16 (IPS)- A group of some 300 French prominent scientists
and university professors have urged the European Union (news -
web sites) to stop all academic co-operation with Israel. In the
declaration, published Tuesday in the French daily newspaper Libération,
the scientists recalled that several EU institutions, especially
the European scientific agency, provides Israel with a member status.
This is a privilege no other Middle East country enjoys and the
benefits imply exceptional funding and the concession of official
European research contracts.
"As long as Israel refuses to comply with the UN resolutions
and to end the occupation of Palestinian territories, the EU should
suspend this privilege," the declaration states.
The demands came after the mission by the United States secretary
of state, Colin Powell (news - web sites), to the region proved
fruitless, and the scope of the carnage in the Palestinian refugee
camp of Jenin was revealed.
The demand was made public in the wake of new debates on the position
the EU should adopt towards Israel. In Luxembourg, the European
foreign ministers could not formulate a common policy towards Israel
and decided to wait and see if Powell would be able to obtain a
ceasefire or not.
Several French researchers of Jewish origin signed the demand to
suspend all scientific co-operation with Israel, including historian
Yves Cohen, psychiatrist Marcel-Francis Kahn, and mathematician
The demand immediately provoked a reaction from other members of
the French scientific community. Sociologist Yankel Filalkows called
the appeal "of the best French researchers the summit of stupidity."
Filalkows said, "It is legitimate that scientists and university
professors express their support for the Palestinians. But it is
stupid of them to plea to isolate some of their colleagues, on the
grounds that they are Jews."
The new Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories has accentuated
the split within the French Jewish community, provoking angry internal
debates, and even mutual physical aggression.
The attacks against synagogues, Talmud schools and Jewish stores,
that have repeatedly taken place in France since the beginning of
the second Intifada in September 2000, have reinforced the support
conservative, pious French Jews show towards Israel.
In their views, both anti-Jewish vandalism and criticism of the
Israeli policy towards Palestinians, is equivalent to anti-Semitism.
At the same time, liberal, secular French Jews openly advocate
for the Palestinian cause. Last week, as the highest official Jewish
institution in France, the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions
Juives de France (CRIF), called for a "great demonstration
in solidarity with Israel", a group of Jewish intellectuals
denounced this call.
Under the title "To Support Israel? Not in our name!",
prominent liberal French Jews, in an open editorial in the newspaper
Le Monde, accused the Israeli government and the CRIF of "usurping
the Jews' collective memory of the Holocaust and misappropriating
the Jewish heritage."
"In face of the Palestinians' tragic solitude and while the
Israeli authorities scorn international law and UN resolutions the
so called international community only shows a shameful capitulation."
Some 20 distinguished French Jews signed the declaration, including
the lawyer Gisèle Halimi, the physician Rony Brauman, the
university professors Suzanne de Brunhoff, Pierre Vidal Naquet,
and Francis Kahn.
They concluded their declaration with an appeal before the European
Union to immediately recognize a Palestinian state within the borders
defined by UN resolutions.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has also provoked a new wave of
confrontations between Arab immigrants and French Jewish youth.
France has a population of some five million people of Arab origin,
and of some 700 000 Jews.