What is this country coming to? Here is the mayor of Béziers, a town of roughly 80,000 souls in southern France known for its high immigration and high unemployment. His name is Robert Ménard and he’s a member of the far right-wing National Front party. This is his new controversial poster campaign advertising the police’s use of new handguns. The posters have drawn severe criticism from the government and widespread mockery on social media. They read “From now on the municipal police has a new friend“. Underneath the image it is written “Armed 24/24 and 7/7“. The “new friend” is a 7.65-calibre handgun. Municipal police in France are already allowed to carry arms, but Ménard’s campaign has been criticized for promoting gun culture.
I despise guns. Growing up in Canada, gun violence was nearly non-existant (sadly, that is no longer.)
Speaking of guns in France, I’ve changed my route to work because of them. Before the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher supermarket killings of January, I used to walk straight down my road and up another road to the office building where I work. It’s a 4-minute jaunt and it involved walking past a private Jewish school. But now I circumvent the Jewish school by taking another route. Why? To avoid walking past the soldiers who are stationed in front of the school. Because you see, I don’t like walking past machine guns on a twice-daily basis (or 4 times a day if I go home for lunch). Especially when they are pointed at me as I walk past.
What world do I now live in where the presence of machine guns are part of the urban landscape? My urban landscape. Consequentially, the fallout from the Israeli-Gaza conflict has ended up on my street. And that really pisses me off.
Yes, that’s right. There is a direct causal link between last summer’s Gaza killings, the continued building of homes by Israeli settlers on Palestinian land, Israel’s policy toward Gaza, and the need for French soldiers to be positioned in front of every Jewish school in France. This is what journalist Michel Gurfinkiel calls an “importation of the Palestinian conflict into France.” I call it backlash.
And if I learn that the funding of those soldiers is coming out of my hard-earned tax euros, I’ll be doubly pissed off.
On September 12, 2014 – following the Israeli-Gaza conflict in which 2,000 Palestinian civilians were killed, including 500 children - the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) published a report confirming that deployment of Israel’s offensive called “Operation Protective Edge” led to significant spikes in anti-Semitic incidents worldwide.
Britain experienced a 400 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents during July 2014. There was a direct link between those acts and events in the Gaza Strip.
Below is a detailed and impartial report, prepared by the AFSC (American Friends Service Committee) entitled How do illegal settlements perpetuate inequality, discrimination, and violence in the occupied Palestinian territory?
If you wish to contribute, in a small way, to the advancement of peace and social justice, you can donate or volunteer with the AFSC. Please read this informative report.