Saturday, August 21, 2004

This Photo Will Be Displayed…

…at Perpignan's Visa pour l'image, the international photojournalism festival in Southern France…

(Next photo…)

…This Photo Will Not

(Next photo…)

This Photo Will Be Displayed…

…at Perpignan's Visa pour l'image, the international photojournalism festival in Southern France…

(Next photo…)

…This Photo Will Not

(Next photo…)

This Photo Will Be Displayed…

…at Perpignan's Visa pour l'image, the international photojournalism festival in Southern France…

(Next photo…)

…This Photo Will Not

(Next photo…)

…This Photo Will Not

(Next photo…)

…This Photo Will Not

(Next photo…)

…This Photo Will Not

(Next photo…)

…This Photo Will Not

(Final photo…)

…This Photo Will Not

(Hear what expression the photojournalism festival's
director uses for his choice of photos…)

Friday, August 20, 2004

French Photojournalism Festival to Display the Most Important Photos of the Year

A town in the South of France famous for its international photojournalism festival is going to display "the most important photos of the year", says director Jean-François Leroy. What might that be, knowing they are related to Iraq? Are they photos of reknowned photographers or young professionals? Are they combat photos from the 2003 war? Photos from the fighting against the guerillas in the aftermath of the fall of Baghdad? Pictures of daily life in the Sunni triangle or in Kurdistan? Or reminders of what Iraq was like during the time of Saddam Hussein?

Of course not! Perpignan's ode to the craft (and hardships) of the professional photographer is to display… Lynndie England et al's "torture" snapshots from Abu Ghraib.

Where are the photos of the prisoners who had their tongues cut out, Monsieur Leroy? Where are the photos of amputated arms and of those who had acid poured onto their faces? (Be they professional photos or snapshots taken by the Ba'ath party members who engaged in the torture?) Where are the photos of the torture chambers in Saddam's prisons, and of his mass graves? Where are the photos of Iraqi mothers and fathers digging up their sons' remains in the scorching desert, Monsieur Leroy? Where are the pictures of dozens and dozens of skeletons being laid out in long lines? Where are they, Monsieur Leroy? Where are they, you who speak out so eloquently against injustice… Where on the walls of your Perpignan museum will we get to see those photos?…

Click to see some pictures that will be
on display and… some that will not

A Slacker's Manifesto on the Sloth Ethic

Here is more on a French slacker's sloth ethic…

De Gaulle Still a Scoundrel 60 Years On

A week-long series of events began today to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Paris. Here are a few sites to visit:
60eme anniversaire de la Libération de Paris — the mayor's office has set up this site with brief histories and other info about the events of that day.

Mission du 60eme anniversaire des débarquements et de la libération de la France — The Defense ministry has set up this site which contains a program of events occuring in Paris to commemorate the Liberation. There were a number of events to-day and Sunday there will be a ceremony marking the deaths of the Francs-Tireurs Partisans who were rounded up and shot by the Germans in the Bois de Boulogne outside Paris. On Monday there will be several dedications of new street names. Ceremonies continue until the 26th.
Le Monde suggests looking at these two personal Web sites devoted to the Liberation: Libération de Paris is maintained by Gilles Primout who since 1994 has been collecting all available sources of information on those who died during the liberation of Paris. Un vent de liberté is an excellent site with historical documents and photos.

I wrote some time ago about a new interpretation of the Liberation in which the US role was minimized and qualified amid happy reconciliation with Germany. I mentioned an essay by Le Monde's former correspondent in NYC, Sylvie Kaufmann, who wrote of a television documentary that included footage of an 8/25/44 speech by General de Gaulle in which he "transformed France's defeat into a victory, without allowing even a word for the role of the allies." Le Monde has made the entire text available here. You can see a small portion of it in this medley of newsreel footage from the liberation, provided by the Gaumont Pathé archives (here and here). Here is what de Gaulle said:
Why do you wish us to hide the emotion that has seized us, men and women, who are here, in our home, in Paris, which has risen to free itself and which was able to do so with its bare hands?

No! We shall not hide this profound and sacred emotion. In it there are moments that surpass each of our poor lives.

Paris! Paris violated! Paris broken! Paris martyred! but Paris liberated! Liberated by itself, liberated by it's people and with the aid of the armies of France, with the support and aid of all of France, of embattled France, of the only France, of the real France, of the eternal France.

And so! Since the enemy that held Paris has surrendered into our hands, France returns to Paris, her home. She returns bloodied but resolute. She returns enlightened by such a great lesson but more certain than ever of her duties and of her rights.

Of her duties first, I say, and I shall sum them up by saying that, for the time being, this concerns duties of war. The enemy is reeling but not yet beaten. He remains on our soil. For us to count ourselves as satisfied after what happened, it is not even enough that we have, with the aid of our dear and admirable allies, chased him off. As is fitting, we wish to enter onto his territory as conquers. This is why the French front line entered Paris with canons blasting. That is why the great French army of Italy set out for the Midi [August 15, 1944] and is rapidly making way for the Rhône valley. That is why our brave and dear interior forces are equipping themselves with modern weapons. It is for this recompense, this vengeance, this justice that we shall continue to fight until the final day, until total and complete victory. All men here and all those who hear us in France know that this duty of war demands national unity. We, who have lived through the greatest moments of our History, have no more to desire than to prove ourselves worthy of France until the end.

Long live France!
In 1945, the "Information & Education Division" of the US Occupation Forces sought to ease the strained relations between US soldiers and the French public by publishing a pamphlet entitled "112 Gripes About the French." The small book discussed the economic realities of life for the French following the occupation, the black market, poverty, malnutrition, cultural differences, etc. The book largely came to the defense of the French and asked American GIs to be more understanding of the country they were occupying. However Gripe #95 was entitled, "The French act has if they won the war single-handed." The Occupations Forces' answer?
Those who do are damned fools. The French did not win this war single-handed. Neither did we. Neither did the Russians or the British or the Chinese.

If you want to form your own opinion about how much French did to help win the war, ask yourself these questions: Suppose the French army and navy had joined up with the Germans in 1940 (as Hitler tried to get them to do)? Suppose the French armies which were fighting the Germans or the Italians had been fighting us? Suppose there had been no French underground, no French resistance, no French sabotage of German military production, no French espionage for SHAEF, no French guerrillas behind the German lines, no French Maquis in Central France, no FFI inside France as we fought our way through? How many more American lives do you think we would have lost?
No public authority published any pamphlet asking de Gaulle, or the French public or anyone else what the answers to the reverse of these questions would have been. On the other hand, perhaps De Gaulle was cynical enough to know the answers perfectly well and yet to surpress them for obvious reasons. I'm not to certain of the authenticity of this quote but it seems apt: Eric Waugh of the Belfast Telegraph recently attributed the following words to de Gaulle, speaking to Churchill: "We shall stun you with our ingratitude."

He did.

On the Other Hand, When It Comes to Mocking Bush, the French Press Does Not Ignore Its American Counterparts

Unlike the UN graft scandal, strangely enough, when it comes to ridiculing Bush, then, somehow, Le Monde's reporters prove to be assiduous New York Times readers (as this example demonstrates)…

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Peace Camp's and UN's Iraqi-Oil-for-Food Scandal Ignored in French Press

Unless I am very much mistaken, the news in the New York Times article that was front-page news in the IHT, requiring a boxed headline in the newspaper published in the Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, has not given rise to a single word in France's independent newspaper of reference.
This is probably due to the fact, see, that the French (besides wanting to prop up the United Nations) are extremely busy in their holy fight against Bush. Let's take a look…
[A report on "the systematic abuse of the program"] caused only a few ripples of consternation. There was no action, diplomats said, not even a formal meeting on the allegations…

Since the fall of Mr. Hussein, the oil-for-food program has received far more scrutiny than it ever did during its six years of operation. … Multiple investigations now under way in Washington and Iraq and at the United Nations all center on one straightforward question: How did Mr. Hussein amass so much money while under international sanctions? An examination of the program, the largest in the United Nations' history, suggests an equally straightforward answer: The United Nations let him do it.

…the official position of the United Nations office that ran the program was that it learned of the endemic fraud only after it ended. But former officials and diplomats who dealt directly with the program now say the bribery and kickback racket was an open secret for years. … The result was a paralysis that translated into acquiescence toward matters like oil kickbacks.

… Evidence of fraud passed from office to office in a round robin ending nowhere. A former State Department official who was part of an interagency committee that reviewed trade contracts with Iraq said the group detected "abnormalities in pricing that suggested fees and kickbacks." The former officials said the committee "asked why Iraq needed to import gilded tiles for palaces, or liposuction equipment" [not to mention French perfume, German limousines, and 1,500 ping-pong tables].

…The oil-for-food program was established to get food and medicine to the Iraqi people and to counter Mr. Hussein's claims that sanctions were solely responsible for the widespread malnutrition in Iraq after the embargo was imposed in 1990.

Iraq was not prohibited from buying food and medicine; it just was not using its money for that purpose. By modifying the oil sanctions, the Security Council wagered that it might gain enough leverage to force Iraq to buy more relief goods.

…Meanwhile, the United States and Britain were delaying the approval of billions of dollars in contracts that they feared would provide Iraq with material or equipment that could be used for the development of weapons of mass destruction. Those "holds" on contracts deeply concerned the United Nations officials trying to improve Iraqi living conditions, and drew objections from members of the Security Council that favored a freer flow of commerce with Iraq.

…Iraq's suppliers included Russian factories, Arab trade brokers, European manufacturers and state-owned companies from China and the Middle East. … When the United States and others wanted the sanctions committee to confront Syria on oil sales, they were blocked by Russia and France, which argued that Syria should not be singled out …

Congressional investigators have estimated that Iraq collected $5.7 billion from selling oil outside United Nations supervision, while the oil-for-food program was chronically short of money for relief supplies. …

The Hussein government demanded kickbacks on almost every contract it negotiated, beginning in 2000, according to documents from Iraqi ministries … Senior Iraqi leaders ordered ministries to notify companies that they had to pay an amount equal to 10 percent of the contract value into secret foreign bank accounts, a violation of the United Nations sanctions.

The UN was — and is — the organization (the same that threw Uncle Sam off the human rights committee, while electing countries like Libya and Syria to head it) that Chirac, de Villepin, and the rest of the French intelligentsia promised the world — and their own people — was the best means for dealing with Saddam Hussein and for bringing about a better world. No wonder France's independent newspaper does not write a single line about it…

Read more about the Peace Camp's Humanitarian Scam

Lire un autre post sur ce scandale aux
Nations Unies ignoré par Le Monde

To keep abreast of the UN scandal,
pay regular visits to Friends of Saddam

Update: When the French press does not ignore
the New York Times, it can only mean one thing…

Life in the 'New Iraq' Is Terrible:
Take Le Monde's Word For It

When the independent newspaper must interview somebody, of course it must be a someone from a government-financed agency who can be counted on to spew anti-American messages ("the United States have shown to what extent they intend to remain masters of the political process", "the situation gives the impression of a deplorable waste", "the acting government being perceived as the vassal of its American godfather", "the courage" of Moqtada Al-Sadr), messages that the Le Monde interviewers (in this case, Mouna Naïm), as usual, can be counted on to repeat — and elicit — in their questions ("Isn't the 'new Irak' being built in the image of the fallen régime: nepotism, corruption, authoritarianism?").

The funny thing (so to speak) is that David Baran says many correct things, but because these truths are considered pro-American ("the parallel [in your question] would appear troubling unless one considers the arbitrariness and the brutality — which are incomparable — of the former régime", "the American intervention [although] perceived as cynical and self-serving, appeared as the only possible solution to an unending status quo; the contest was thus favorable to [Bush's military] intervention"), the (short) sentences are inevitable minimized in the following (much longer) groups of sentences to bring about a general feeling that skewers Uncle Sam.

(This is what can be called "token sentences", sentences that, like certain articles, news-gathering, and letters to the editor are added only to a periodical's print edition so that the owners and editors able to say "Oh, well, of course we are objective and allow all viewpoints to be expressed, see the evidence for yourself", although such viewpoints appear only, say, 4% of the time.)

For instance, after evoking the disorganization of Iraqi institutions, the humiliated and disappointed population, the resentment of the Iraqis, all the American faux pas, and "the heavy responsability of the United States in the current situation", the whole article (and the interview) ends with a paragraph on the "country the instability promises to be enduring. The [basic question, therefore, is the following]: For want of a pacified Iraq, how does one manage the instability while preserving the appearances of a certain progress?"

Of course, under Saddam Hussein, you realize, Iraq was stable. And there weren't any journalists to poke their noses around and sniff out the various problems, big or small, real or imagined, that Le Monde is now making such a huge fuss about. Stability in a country where policemen could come into your home, remove your husband, son, or father, your wife, daughter, or mother, and take them away to be "taken care of" in the city jails (or in the killing fields), now that was something!

Aah, for the good ol' days…

Some Wise Words from Clinton's Inaugural

Today is the birthday of Bill Clinton, the president who said that
There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right in America.

Vot's Negst on dee Achenta?

Ogayyy… vot ist negst on dee achenta? Ja, gome in. Ah, danke, Frau Möller. Aaahhh… Mmmmhhh... Oh! Vas ist dis?

Oh Got, nein, vas hass dee Präsident Push now tun? …Oh, how ritigulous… dat man nefer vails do amace me, he really iss a cherk!... Ohhhhh (lonk tsigh)… Ach, vat kan ve to hier? bip bip bip boop bibip boobip… … … Hallo? Wolfgang? Ja, haff you rhet dee noose? Vell, ket a koby of dee noosebaper! Push vants to remofe dee Amerigan Chee Ice vrom Chermany! ... Ja, it iss drue, I shwear, it iss right hier on dee vront baiche of dee noosebayp—… Ja, vell vat kan you egsbekt vrom a man like dat?

Ja, vot are you saying? "Ve marched akainst de Yankee imberialishts in dee streets von Berlin"? Ja, vell, of kourse ve tid! Ve vanted der arrokant Amerikan tsuberbower to zhow tsome humilidy to dee vorld und vidtraw its droops vrom efry kountry dat — Hey, vait a minute, vat are you keddink at!? No… No, it's not! Ov kourse not!! It hass not'ing do to wid dat! Dey are bervektly unreladed. No, dee Amerikan trups in Chermany is a divverent madder. Ja, a divverent madder aldoget'er. Ja, vell I ton't kare, you vrite dee shtory, und… yes you to, and you dell it in a vay dat zhows how vrong-headed dis policy ist und how unvair it iss do Chermany und Europe und how shtupid Chorge Push ist. Ja, ass ushual. Egzactly. Vine. Gut-pye.

…Ach, dat Wolfgang. He nefer untershtands anyt'ing. I'fe nefer heard tso many shtupid qveshchuns from vun man…

European Humanists Make a Principled Stand Against Yankee Imperialism

(Danke zu Hans ze Beeman)

Germans plea for Bushitler to change his mind and the French play with themselves Les schleus supplient à Bushitler de changer d'avis et les franchouilles se paluchent dans leur coin
The Krauts cry, 'If the Americans leave, we'll be wiped off the map!' They can always ask their influential friend Chiraq to prop them up. The problem is French influence is nil. If Le Monde Al-Jazeera on the Seine (Truth Commissar for the copy and pasting STDs) is reporting the France's influence has weakened then you can be sure that it's at around zero. The fudgepacking Franco-German backroom (ground zero of Zeropa) is now empty.
Les Fritz pleurnichent, 'Si les Américains s'en vont, nous serons rayés de la carte!' Ils peuvent toujours demander à leur ami Chirak, dont l'influence est si forte, de les appuyer. Le fait que l'influence franchouille est nulle pose problème pourtant. Si Le Monde Al-Jazira sur Seine (Commissaire de la Conscience Politique des cons-cons) déclare que l'influence de la Fwance s'est affaiblie, cela veut dire que le véritable niveau se situe aux alentours de zéro. Le backroom Franco-Schleu (kilomètre zéro de la Zéropa) ne trouve plus de clients.

The pause that refreshes Mais qu'est-ce que tu bois Doudou dis donc?
Nice. Marwan Barghouti chows down.
Élégance. Marwan Barghouti se tape un gueleton digne d'un roi.

Hier Ve Ko All Ofer Akain...

Frau Möller? Bleace, gan you ket me mein kovvee, bitte... Und dee noosebaber? Danke.

Gut, less tsee vat's do to dotay. Ach ja… Bapers, bapers, more bapers… Virst ov all… vas ist dis? Ach, der Push-Kehry boll akain. Oh no…  Oh no… …Dis ist kettink oud ov hant. Vat do to, vat do to?… (Tsigh…) Bipbipbip-bupbipbip-bup… [bause] kome now, shnell, anzer dee telef… Ja, hallo, Fritz? Ja, id ist me. How are you toing? Und your vife? Ah, gut… Ja, I am vine doo. Ja, Else ist vine, alvays iss, you know her tsunny kharakter und…

Uh no, agtually you are right, Fritz, I tid not gall chust do tisguss our vifes und dee veadher. Look, somes'ing game ob, I haff a vafor to ask of you. No, chus' a liddle vafor, a liddle iddy biddy vafor… Vell, it vould abbear dat ve mus' chainch it akain. Vat? Der poll, ov gourse. Ja ja, galm town, Fritz, ja ja, ich know, it iss tirink. Put you must rememper, Fritz, Fritz, blease li — Fritz, listen do me! Rememper, Fritz, ve are tevoted to dee trut'! Dee trut', dee holle trut', und not'ink put dee trut'! Zo so lonk dat — Fritz, listen do me! — so lonk dat Kehry iss not vinnink, ve vill chainch it akain, und akain, undil… Ja? Ja, I untershtand… ja ov kourse I to… vell listen, I abbreshiate your batience und… Fritz, listen, it iss imbordant! …Okay, why ton't ve to it dis vay? Vhy ton't you take it ovv der vebside aldoget'er? Vhile in der meandime I t'ink ov vot do to. No no chus' remofe it aldoget'er, vhile I t'ink… Ja Fritz, I know, I know!, you tit it pevore, it iss a lot ov vork, aber… Ja, Fritz, ja I bromise it iss dee last dime. Ja, I bromise: dee last dime.

Ogay, Fritz, gall me pack when you haff tagen it off, vill you. Ogay… ogay… Ja, danke vielmals, I abbreciate it, pye-pye… Oh, und Fritz, rememper… I gould not to it widout you…

Lessee… vot ist negst on dee achenta?

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Pardon, Monsieur, Did American Soldiers Participate in WWII at All?

Six weeks after France hosted an international celebration for the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, in which Jacques Chirac managed to hold a speech in which the words "America", "Americans", and "the United States" were not mentioned once, France hosted the commemoration of the second Allied landings in occupied France of 1944.

During France 2's news story on the 60th anniversary of Operation Dragoon, "America" and related words were not mentioned once.

During France 3's news story on the 60th anniversary of Operation Dragoon, "America" and related words were not mentioned once.

During LCI's news story on the 60th anniversary of Operation Dragoon, "America" and related words were not mentioned once.

The news stories on the commemorations all spoke in generic terms ("France paid homage to the soldiers who landed" in Provence in 1944; "a total of nearly 500,000 men"; "the 450,000 men who landed to liberate France").

As for the printed press, let's see… What do we have in Le Monde?

Wow, quite a lot. A full double spread with no less than five articles and two fillers.

The main article, by Yves Bordenave, is called France honors the forgotten of the Provence landings. An article by Lilian Renard concerns the African veterans finding "a lost love" all over again. A rather surprizing article, by Nicolas Weill, concerns the fact that a French army of liberation was actually dominated by Vichy officers. Yet another, by Claudia Courtois, speaks of the Maroccan veterans' bitterness. And the two fillers concern attempts to reevaluate African veterans' pensions and the soldiers who understood orders in French, yet spoke to each other in Arabic.

Wow… that's quite impressive… In all those articles, there are only two mentions of American troops. (Not counting a paragraph mentioning the absence of President Bush.) Quite a feat, eh? But wait a minute… That's not quite true… I told you there were five articles, and in the paragraph above, and I only mentioned four. Turns out there is an article where the word "American" is mentioned throughout the text. In fact, the word keeps returning again and again. It happens to be a straight historical just-the-facts-ma'am article, replete with maps, that tells the story, day by day, hour by hour, of the Provence landings. I guess Bordenave told Le Monde's editors it would be rather difficult to pen that article without including the Yanks…

Ah, the compromises one has to make to work in the printed media…

Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you. Some 60 UMP politicians objected to the presence of Algeria's president (Abdelaziz Bouteflika), because of the tragic fate of the pro-French harki fighters during Algeria's war for independence. Foreign Minister Michel Barnier scolded the Chirac party members, retorting that it "is legitimate that, like the other heads of state concerned by this page of our history, the Algerian president should be invited to the commemoration."

Quite a different treatment than that reserved for President Bush, huh?…

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Express solidarity with Israeli jail staff Exprimez votre solidarité avec le gardiens de prison israéliens
Chow down with a delicious plate of Middle Eastern grilled grub.
Faites le nécessaire pour vous taper un gueuleton de roi avec une délicieuse assiette de boustifaille orientale grillée.

Grilled kafta with extra chili sauce.
Kafta grillé avec le plein d'harissa.

That leaves more for the humans Ça laisse plus pour les êtres humains
Criminals of the Pali Psycho Death Cult©®™ are hunger striking in Israeli prisons. Can I have their falafels?
Des criminels appartenant au Culte Psychotique de la Mort palestinien©®™ font une grève de la faim dans les prisons israéliennes. Je peux prendre leurs falafels?

Panty-waist brown shirt censorship ... La censure des pédaloïdes chemises brunes ...
... doesn't work. Maurice G. Dantec's latest will be out twice before the end of the year.
... ne donne rien. Un coup double signé Maurice G. Dantec sur les étagères des libraries avant la fin de l'année.

Why fight terror? Zeropeans would rather work 35 hours and navel gaze between two package holidays Combattre le terrorisme? Pourquoi faire? Les zéropéens préfèrent bosser 35 heures et se contempler le nombril entre deux vols Framtour
Zeropean nihilism. Lie down and play dead. Al-Qaeda is not a terrorist group. It's a social mouvement according to this American psychiatrist of French background who finds a willing poodle-like mouthpiece in Libération PropagandaStaffel.
Le nihilisme zéropéen. Couche-toi et fais le mort. Al-Qaeda n'est pas un groupe terroriste. C'est un mouvement social selon un psychiatre américain d'origine française qui trouve un porte-parole toutou bien soumis chez Libé PropagandaStaffel.
It's all right / Tout va bien
Sacrificed on the altar of Zeropean humanist pacifism. Just look the other way. It's all right.
Sacrifié sur l'autel du zhumanisme pacifiste zéropéen. Il suffit de détourner le regard. Tout va bien.

At Notre Dame

Ireland Online reports:
Paris’ mayor Bertrand Delanoe said he was “saddened and sickened” by anti-Semitic graffiti, including a sign saying “Death to Jews”, found scrawled on a wall on the grounds of Notre Dame Cathedral.

Police cordoned off part of the esplanade in front of the cathedral in central Paris that draws thousands of tourists daily in the summer.

The graffiti, written in black marker, included a swastika. It was discovered yesterday morning on a low wall that runs along the side of the cathedral facing the Seine River.

You can relax

It's not me.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Don't share the same values? Vous ne partagez pas les mêmes valeurs?
Then get bent.
Allez vous faire voir au Larzac.

Rip 'em to shreds ... Qu'ils pissent du sang par tous les trous ...
... and then we'll buy pieces of the rubble on E-bay.
... et ensuite on achetera des gravats sur E-bay.

Making the myths Forger les mythes
Racial violence. Le Monde Al-Jazeera on the Seine tirelessly hypes the myth of a far-right extremist conspiracy (with help from the Murcans) when the true widespread problem has already been identified and is still swept under the rug. The recent crime wave was committed by a one guy who, much to the embarassement of French authorities hot on his trail, gave himself up before he could be tracked down. How about a study of those young Muslims who beat on Jews? Too hot to handle? Pussies!
Violence raciste. Le Monde Al-Jazira sur Seine fait inlassablement de l'intox autour du mythe d'une conspiration de l'extrême droite (inspirée par les ricains) bien que le véritable fléau soit déjà bien cerné mais se trouve toujours balayé sous le tapis. La série d'actes racistes commis récemment était l'oeuvre d'un type agissant tout seul qui, pour bien faire chier la flicaille franchouille qui se la jouaient dadadirladada à ses trousses, s'est rendu avant que ces derniers n'arrivent jusqu'à lui. Et pourquoi pas une étude au sujet de ces jeunes musulmans qui cassent du feuj? Trop polémique vous dites? Pédaloïdes!

"Phineas" in Custody — Police

Jewish tombstones were scrawled with Nazi symbols and anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim slurs recently in Lyon, as part of
a rash of neo-Nazi acts. — Jean-Paul Bajard/Editing Server

A man claiming to be the anti-Semitic vandal behind last week's desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Lyon reportedly turned himself in to the Police Saturday night, the AFP reports. He has been placed under observation.

Police also suspect him in the assault of a Maghreban man shortly before the attack on the cemetery in which he allegedly used an axe later found bearing traces of blood in the cemetery. The suspect is a French national born in 1980 who turned himself in at the 18th arrondissement police station in Lyon, identifying himself as "Phineas," a name left as a tag among the swastikas and celtic crosses daubed on the headstones of the cemetery.

In disgust, W recently pointed to a press account that indicated that the presence of the name might have been inspired by far right ideology from the US. The ADL has a "backgrounder" on the "Phineas Priesthood" here. The biblical character "Phineas" is described in Numbers 25:7-8 as an Israelite who catches another Israelite making love with a Midiantish woman and who kills them both with a javelin in order to stave off a plague (uh... you do the math...). Neo-Nazi followers of the Christian "Identity" movement interpret this as a summons to do violence to people who aren't white and view the act as an initiation into the ranks of the so-called "priesthood." In 1999, a 37 year-old named Buford O’Neal Furrow opened fire on a Jewish daycare center in Los Angeles, wounding three children, a teenager and an adult woman and killing a Filipino postal worker. At the time, a representative from the Southern Poverty Law Center suggested that Furrow might have been seeking initiation into the order and CNN reported that Furrow had once been married to Debbie Matthews (a great beauty!), widow of Robert J. Matthews, whose own group was implicated in the 1984 murder of Denver talkradio host Alan Berg (since dramatized by Oliver Stone).

Police believe the culprit in the Lyon hate crimes was acting on similar motives and say that the suspect in custody has told them he found French far right groups, in the AFP's words, "too tepid." The did not mention US hate groups but knew precisely who the biblical character Phineas was. Police claim they had never seen the name before it appeared in two crimes that occurred only eight days apart.

"The statements by the man in custody and by witnesses as well as the evidence gathered seem to indicated that we have the lone perpetrator of an assault in Villeurbanne and of the vandalism discovered in the Jewish cemetery of Lyon," Interior minister de Villepin said in a statement (not currently available on the Interior ministry's Web site).

With equal disdain, W also recently pointed to an excellent report by the Times' Craig S. Smith (whose work in France has earned him plaudits on this blog in the past for his keen eye for certain stories that might otherwise have gone unnoticed in the English-language media).

Smith reports on a neo-Nazi rally that recently took place in Hipsheim and his characterization of the overall situation in France is comprehensive but perhaps most importantly he includes a rare insight into the nature of Alsace:
"There was never a de-Nazification in Alsace because the region was treated as a victim," said Georges Yoram Federmann, an Alsatian psychiatrist and founder of a group that has tried to identify Jews whose bodies, preserved in formaldehyde and intended for a Nazi medical museum, were found in Strasbourg after the war.

Because France was concerned with reintegrating the region after the war, more attention was paid to Nazi conscripts than to Nazi members and their sympathizers. Fourteen Alsatians convicted of taking part in a massacre at Oradour in 1944, the war's worst atrocity on French soil, were given amnesty by the state to placate Alsatian anger. The region's former Nazis melted back into Alsatian society without the scrutiny reserved for German collaborators elsewhere in France.