|Les Ministres Fadila Laanan (Belgique) et Fadela Amara (France) se sont rendues en Israël et en reviennent avec des narratives diamétralement opposées.|
Fadila Laanan, Ministre de la Culture et de l'Audiovisuel de la Communauté française de Belgique, déclarait le plus sérieusement du monde à l’occasion de la présentation de la saison artistique palestinienne qui se tiendra à Bruxelles, en Wallonie et à Paris en 2008:
"A Haïfa, une artiste avait construit une sculpture haute de 10 mètres représentant un mur. Elle m’a demandé de la casser. Je l’ai fait. Ce n’était pas un acte iconoclaste. Ce n’était pas une oeuvre d’art brisée. C’est dans le malheur, dans la représentation du malheur, que j’ai cogné. J’ai mesuré là combien les actes symboliques sont nécessaires, libérateurs. A quel point l’art et les artistes font signe. A quel point, ils font sens."
La Secrétaire d'État de la République française Fadela Amara a confié dans un entretien accordé au quotidien israélien Haaretz qu'elle s'était très bien sentie en Israël et que la diversité ethnique du pays l'avait frappée. Pas de langue de bois, pas de propos convenus si chers aux détracteurs d'Israël, pas de pédanterie. Quel regard porterait Fadela Amara sur festival Masarat où il est question de “mur de la ségrégation” et dont il est à regretter que l'un des invités soit le Zan Studio (qui vient d’avoir les honneurs du Centre Wallonie-Bruxelles à Paris) qui dénie le droit d’existence d’Israël?
"Amara says that when she was in Israel, she actually felt quite at home. She was invited here in June 2004 as part of a delegation of leftist women that met with Israeli and Palestinian women. ...
"I felt very comfortable [in Israel]. I wasn't the object of special stares, as often happens toward foreigners. I didn't feel any racism, though I'm certain it exists. You have all the colors there so it's become almost natural to see white, yellow, brown."
By your appearance, you could certainly pass for Israeli. Maybe that's the reason?
"Maybe, but I'm not used to that. Here in France, I get looks. To the French, I'm not very 'French.' We're living here under a dominant culture. When your name is François and you're white with blue eyes, it's one thing. But when your name is Fatima and you've got a little color, the look you get is different. In Israel - because of the variety of people, I didn't feel that. In fact, I met a lot of young people there and it happened more than once that I was talking with a Palestinian and thinking he was an Israeli or vice-versa. Luckily, some of them were wearing a Star of David, otherwise I would have been confused all the time."
Did your visit change your views in any way?
"The point of view of the residents of the suburbs in France regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is very narrow: The young Palestinians whom I met asked me to explain to the youths of the suburbs that their anti-Semitic acts are not helping them. That it creates a boomerang that hurts them in world public opinion. I was very impressed by this talk from the Palestinians I met, which was so different than that of the youths of the suburbs - some of whom, by the way, were put up to what they did by Islamic activists."
Is France anti-Semitic? Is it Islamophobic?
"No on both counts. We're good students. We've managed to reduce the number of anti-Semitic acts, but it's not enough, we have to continually keep at it. As for Islamophobia - there's no such thing. It's an invention of the Islamists that shouldn't be taken up."
But racism against Muslims - doesn't that exist in France?
"You have to be careful with the terminology. Anti-Semitism is a fact and we know exactly what it has led to in our history. It can't be compared to anything else. I'm not prepared to accept moral preachings from some Muslim intellectuals who use the term 'Islamophobia' as a parallel to anti-Semitism. When it comes to acts against Muslims, their religion doesn't play any part. These are racists acts, period. You can't liken the Holocaust and the memory of it to my personal-family memory, which is of the colonization in Algeria. It's true that my father, who was born in the colonial period, was deprived of his rights. He was not allowed to attend school, and I can only regret these 'sad intervals' of French history. But that has nothing whatsoever in common with the Final Solution. The terrible Holocaust was the most barbaric act the world ever came up with. It's not like anything else at all. Not even the genocide in Rwanda."
In Rwanda, it was an organized genocide, though.
"But it wasn't set out or carried out in the same mechanical and sick fashion. In my opinion, the trap that some intellectuals try to use by putting everything on an equal footing in the name of some sort of competition among memories is the ultimate anti-Semitic act. A deluxe act of anti-Semitism.
"Unfortunately, the problem of anti-Semitism isn't fully resolved in my country. It's returning in a new formula in the suburbs, where the Islamists have rotted our children's brains. If we had properly fulfilled our roles and if we had radically reduced anti-Semitism in France, including in administration, we wouldn't be witnessing its renewal today in the suburbs, in its Islamic form, together with its discourse, which has fascist overtones. It's all because of our cowardice and because we didn't want to admit and we didn't want to know.
"I have Jewish friends who tell me - Fadela, we don't want to talk about memory. That's a choice that I respect, but if these things aren't said, then no one will be protected."
In other words, on the question of teaching the Holocaust, you support President Sarkozy's controversial proposal to assign each elementary school pupil the task of remembering a single Jewish child who perished in the Holocaust?
"Yes, I have no problem at all with it. Maybe because I didn't experience it myself. But I'm so anxious for it not to happen again that I'd do anything for that purpose. The idea of adopting the memory of a child who perished in the Holocaust - maybe not by an individual student but by an entire class - is good, effective and necessary. Especially today.
"People talk about so many memories - colonization, slavery, etc. - but the emphasis has to be on the Holocaust, because we haven't sufficiently internalized the memory of it: Just two years ago, a young man from one of the suburbs was tortured for a month. And why? Because his name was Ilan [Halimi - A.P.] and he was a Jew. For a whole month. Can you imagine? A whole month. Thirty days. Do you understand what that means? Everyone knew about it. Or a lot of people, at least. And afterward they threw him out like a dog, and all because of his Jewish origin. It's intolerable. Just intolerable."