What They Are Saying

Journalist Tom Gross writes in The Wall Street Journal (www.opinionjournal.com) on June 2 about anti-Semitism at France's leading newspaper:

"A French court last week found three writers for Le Monde, as well as the newspaper's publisher, guilty of 'racist defamation' against Israel and the Jewish people. In a groundbreaking decision, the Versailles court of appeal ruled that a comment piece published in 2002, 'Israel-Palestine: The Cancer,' had whipped up anti-Semitic opinion.

"The writers of the article, Edgar Morin (a well-known sociologist), Daniele Sallenave (a senior lecturer at Nanterre University) and Sami Nair (a member of the European parliament), as well as Le Monde's publisher, Jean-Marie Colombani, were ordered to pay symbolic damages of one euro to a human-rights group and to the Franco-Israeli association. Le Monde was also ordered to publish a condemnation of the article, which it has yet to do.

"It is encouraging to see a French court rule that anti-Semitism should have no place in the media – even when it is masked as an analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The ruling also makes it clear that the law in this respect applies to extremist Jews (Mr. Morin is Jewish) as much as to non-Jews.

"Press freedom is a value to be cherished, but not exploited and abused. In general, European countries have strict laws against such abuse, and Europe's mainstream media are in any case usually good at exercising self-censorship. The exception to this seems to be the coverage of Jews, particularly Israeli ones. This is particularly ironic given the fact that Europe's relatively strict freedom of speech laws (compared to those in the U.S.) were to a large extent drafted as a reaction to the Continent's Nazi occupation. And yet, from Oslo to Athens, from London to Madrid, it has been virtually open season on them in the last few years, especially in supposedly liberal media.

" 'Israel-Palestine: The Cancer' was a nasty piece of work, replete with lies, slanders and myths about 'the chosen people,' 'the Jenin massacre,' describing the Jews as

'a contemptuous people taking satisfaction in humiliating others,' 'imposing their unmerciful rule,' and so on.

"Yet it is was no worse than thousands of other reports, editorials, commentaries, letters, cartoons and headlines published throughout Europe in recent years in the guise of legitimate and reasoned discussion of Israeli policies."

Heralded as a Man of Courage?
What Was Bush Thinking!

Think-tank scholar Frank J. Gaffney Jr. writes in The Washington Times (www.washingtontimes. com) June 1 that the White House's current crush on the Palestinian leader is troubling:

"Last week, the president of the United States effusively praised Mahmoud Abbas, Yasser Arafat's right-hand man for some 40 years. In the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Bush described Mr. Abbas as a 'man of courage,' explaining he takes 'great faith in not only [Mr. Abbas'] personal character, but the fact that he campaigned on a platform of peace – he said, 'Vote for me, I am for peace.' And the Palestinians voted overwhelmingly to support him.'

"In light of what is actually happening in the proto-state Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) was elected last January to govern, such characterizations seem at best wishful thinking, at worst willful and dangerous self-delusion.

"To the contrary, Mr. Abbas is not dismantling terrorist organizations. Instead, groups like Hamas, with the avowed mission of destroying Israel, are ascendant. They are winning local elections and taking full advantage of the hudna (temporary suspension of hostilities) to rebuild their offensive capabilities against Israel.

"Hamas and other terrorists are being integrated into Palestinian security forces, receiving valuable training and even arms from U.S. and European personnel. Burgeoning quantities of ever-more-powerful weapons are smuggled into Gaza from Egypt.

"Meanwhile, Palestinians are encouraged by official imams whose sermons are broadcast on Abbas-controlled media to kill Jews and destroy America. Less than two weeks before Mr. Bush welcomed Abu Mazen to the White House, Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris claimed on Palestinian Authority TV that history showed the legitimacy of torturing, exiling and murdering Jews and Muslim conquest of the U.S. inevitable.

"If the evidence is so clear the Palestinian state Abu Mazen is a-building will be but a new state-sponsor of terror, how could President Bush – who in June 2002 rejected that prospect and devoted his presidency to eliminating such sponsors – possibly turn a blind eye to the facts on the ground? How could he insist Israel make still further territorial and political concessions, including over Jerusalem, let alone hand over directly to the P.A. $50 million in U.S. taxpayers' funds?"

No Room for Glitter – and Stars –
in the New 'Cinderella' Saga

Critic David Fellerath writes on Slate (www.msn. slate.com) on June 1 that a new hit movie sucker-punches a Jewish boxer:

"Attentive viewers of the climactic fight of 'Cinderella Man,' Ron Howard's Depression-era crowd-pleaser, will notice a Star of David on the red trunks of Max Baer, the lethal opponent of Jim 'Cinderella Man' Braddock. The star is significantly less prominent than the one that the real Baer wore in the 1935 fight. It's no surprise that Howard would obscure this detail, as it would complicate his film's 'Rocky'-meets-'Seabiscuit' narrative.

"To be sure, the film's fleeting portrait of Baer as a skirt-chasing playboy, notorious for clowning in the ring, is consistent with published accounts.

"It was in 1933, when Baer was 24, that he came out as a Jew and wore the Star of David on his trunks for the first time. His opponent was Max Schmeling, the 'Black Uhlan of the Rhine' and a reluctant standard-bearer for Hitler's Third Reich. 'That one's for Hitler,' Baer snarled between blows to the stumbling Schmeling. He knocked him out in the 10th round. It was his finest hour in the ring.

"Over the years, the significance of Baer's gesture has been dismissed as a publicity stunt in a sport that thrives on racial and ethnic conflict.

"Baer's prominent display of the star came at a time of continuous bad tidings from Germany. Anti-Jewish boycotts were under way, Jews were being expelled from official positions, Dachau had opened. A day after the Schmeling fight, a New York Times dispatch from Berlin reported that German papers were reticent about their countryman's defeat: 'All papers ignore the fact that Schmeling was beaten by a man who in Germany would be classified as a Jew.'

"Despite the star on his trunks that night, Baer was never a practicing Jew. His tenuous claim, however, seems to have been good enough for Jewish fight fans.

"He died of a massive heart attack at age 50 in 1959. Among other things, he didn't live to see his son achieve celebrity as Jethro Bodine on 'The Beverly Hillbillies.'

" 'Cinderella Man' may reduce Baer to a crude and simplistic villain, but Baer probably would have enjoyed the movie anyway – he despised boxing. 'He thought it was horse—-,' says his son. 'He really wanted to be an actor.' " u


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