Un peu trop France in Israel

French President Emmanuel Macron’s spat with the Israeli police directed to guard him raised eyebrows and many questions.

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There is no prize for counting how many pompous French expressions I can shovel into this piece.

Doesn’t it seem in the least strange that France whose secularism (Laïcité) is written into the preamble of its constitution should not only own a church in the Holyland but claim sovereignty in it?

Actually four places of religious significance: the Sanctuary of the Eleona (Church of the Pater Noster); the monastery of Abu Gosh; the Tomb of the Kings as well as St. Anne’s church, the scene of the spat.

They call them Domaine national français but no one seems to be able to define precisely what that is or how in 2020 France can still make such an extraterritorial, colonialist claim. The implication is that Israeli law doesn’t apply in Israel. Consulates and embassies are a clearly defined and accepted exception but a church is neither.

If and when (hopefully never) they fall into Palestinian hands will France still keep on with this totally anachronistic fiction or is it just absurdité for the Jews?

Perhaps he should be protecting churches in France, as a priority. They need protection.

The basis is a gift by the Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid I to Napoleon III in 1856. The Ottoman Empire, in case anyone is unsure, was abolished in 1922. The French protectorate should have expired with it.

There is the Fisher-Chauvel agreement made in 1948 at a diplomatic level but never ratified by Israel. At time of writing I haven’t seen a copy of the text.

Isn’t it about time that Israel told the French to screw themselves? Let the constitutionally secular French explain in French court why they own churches and claim sovereignty.

Most of the world media reported on Macron’s contretemps with the Israeli police charged with his protection. I suspect, that far from spontaneous, the media coverage was the raison d’être.

  • Was it to out chirac† Chirac? It clearly was a bit of a circus.
  • Was it to hide the illegal activities of yet another foreign-funded anti-Israel NGO operating from the Church of St. Anne? From whom is not quite clear.
  • Was it a French President humiliated at home by road-blocking gilets jaunes and car-torching banlieues youth seeking to flex muscles overseas against a group he was quite sure would not hit back?
  • Was it to take attention from the hypocrisy of combining his Auschwitz virtue signalling with a visit to Mahmud Abbas, PhD in Holocaust Denial?
  • Or was it simply marking territory?

Extra credit

† We are going a little obscure here. Chirac (צירק) is Yiddish for circus, or it is according to Google Translate.

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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