Saturday, March 27, 2004


Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I've been flat out. To make up for it, here's a few briefs on things I've been meaning to mention.

A:Our friend Rémy Ourdan participated in an on-line chat with readers on Wednesday.
Sarah: Since you're on the scene, can you clearly tell us what the feelings of the population are about the military operations and other attacks organized against the occupation forces? How does the Iraqi in the street see these operations: acts of resistance or terrorism?

Remy Ourdan:
For the Iraqis, these are both at once. Many publicly applaud the attacks on the American army because this army is seen as brutal and arrogant. But the same people describe all attacks that target Iraqis as terrorism. Moreover, let's reiterate that the occupation army is very unpopular but that many Iraqis privately admit that they don't want its immediate departure, out of fear, even now, of civil war.
Later, he had this exchange:
Richard 75: It seems that Iraqis (even when they are anti-American) have a virulent anti-French feeling because they think that France tried to save Saddam. Can you confirm or deny this?

Remy Ourdan:
This feeling is very strong in Iraq. Almost all the Shia, almost all the Kurds and many Sunnis think that France defended Saddam Hussein to protect an old friendship and so-called economic and petrol interests. Also, many Iraqis are angry with France because of its attitude after the war. Pragmatic, they feel that once the conflict was over and Saddam gone, France and the other countries of Europe should have come to their aid for humanitarian reasons and, again, not to leave them alone to face the Americans.
ßA mere two years after the BBC, that cutting edge culture journal, did it, helped its readers stay hip on Tuesday by informing them of the Google Bomb phenomenon. They point to the WMD and miserable failure pranks but they forget — or are too clueless to be aware — that they are themselves the victims of such a prank.
ΓHaving found a distributor, Mel Gibson's Passion of the Qrap opens on more than 520 screens in France next Wednesday where, though it contains perhaps a little bit of violence, it will only be forbidden to children under 12. The AFP is reporting that three Jewish brothers, the Benlolos, who have not seen the film, went to court to-day, seeking to have the movie banned. Patrick Benlolo called the film an "incitation to racial hatred because it is the result of an erroneous presentation of the bible, portraying Jews as deicides, which is the cause of the Jews' persecutions." Olivier Laude, the lawyer representing distributor Quinta Communications claims the Benlolos' complaint should be dismissed because it seeks redress for potential violence, which only criminal authorities can prosecute, though it seems that the movie has already provoked its fair share of violence elsewhere. [3/28: In the comments below, a reader points out that in fact the film prompted the murderer to confess, not to kill — which I'd have noticed if I'd bothered to read the articled linked here. ¡No Pasarán! regrets the error.]

Meanwhile, Marin Karmitz, head of the MK2 movieplex chain, has refused to screen the film, calling it "fascist." His interview with Télérama provoked a flurry of hate mail but also approbation. In particular, he said:
It's a film that turns barbarism and violence into a spectacle. For two hours, we see a man being tortured, nothing more. Second fascistic element: revisionism, the way in which History is charicatured, reduced to aphasia for the sole benefit of noises, blows and cries. To deny Christianity its words it to deny its greatness. At last, given the depiction of the Jews, anti-Semitism is the third element of this fascist ideology. But, in America, the Jewish lobbies have led themselves astray by putting the debate in this framework only: they have unwittingly fed the far right attack of which this film is evidence.
Paris Archbishop, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, who was born Jewish but converted, has decried the film's "sadism." He told the Catholic TV station KTO that "the Gospels are neither the Gallic Wars nor Napoleon's memoirs." The love of God "is not measured in liters of hemoglobin and spilled blood," he said. "For us, Christ's blood is in the chalice during the liturgy." (The film meeting with great success in Lebanon: "the fact that the film is being shown in the current context of the Middle East conflict, opposing Israel and Arabs, is not unrelated to the success of the film," said one spectator.) Lustiger, you'll remembe, is the one who criticized Abbé Pierre for endorsing the Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy
ΔSpanish writer Juan Goytisolo has an essay in Thursday's Le Monde entitled "Return to Reason."
While the war in Afghanistan, decided on both in the framework of international law and out of the pressing need to end the obscurantist Taliban regime that acted as a refuge for bin Laden and his organization, partially attained its goals (partially, because the number one terrorist and one of his closest followers still move about freely), the Invasion of Iraq to put an end to the alleged threat of Saddam Hussein has been (with the not negligible exception of the latter's arrest and the dismantling of his regime) a total absurdity.


The phraseology of the current occupant of the White House regarding "international terrorism" has nevertheless had an immediate effect, both in the East and the West, in the European Union and in Russia. Sharon has seized on it to crush the Palestinians and pen them in ghettos encircled by a wall even more bloody than the one erected in Berlin a half century ago.
Had enough? You may remember that, like Russell Banks and Oliver Stone, Goytisolo is a member of the International Parliament of Writers who visited Yasser Arafat in 2002. While there, one member, Nobelist José Saramago, told reporters that "What is happening in Palestine is a crime which we can put on the same plane as what happened at Auschwitz, at Buchenwald," adding that "There are no gas chambers yet. But that does not mean there will never be gas chambers . . . one can kill without having gas chambers." Following these remarks, Saramago was denounced by other IPW members. However, philosopher Alain Finkielkraut also reported the IPW subsequently "appealed to the director of France Culture to rescind the invitation extended to [then Israeli ambassador to France] Elie Barnavi, the representative of a “terrorist, neo-fascist and nazi” government, to a radio program which they were also to attend. Laure Adler didn’t give in so Juan Goytisolo refused to sit at the same table as the ambassador."
ΕLe Nouvel Observateur has posted its cover story from March 25, 1974: "Can we do without the Americans?"
...of the thirteen divisions that the American army currently comprises, four (a third!) are in Europe. Of the 2,250,000 men in the the US Armed forces, all services combined, including the Marines, 313,000 are supposed to defend us. There are 228,000 of them in West Germany, 3,000 in Greece, 2,000 in Holland, 3,000 in Iceland, 10,000 in Italy, 1,000 in Morocco, 2,000 in Portugal, 7,000 in Turkey, 23,000 in the Sixth Fleet and 2,000 roving.


If one considers, in addition to this spearhead, the deployment of the 8,000 nuclear warheads located somewhere in Germany, one can form a rather precise impression of the great atomic umbrella that the United States — for the modest sum of $7 million a year — graciously extend over European heads that are grateful or that should be...

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