Parler Paris Après Midi

Meeting of July 21, 2015

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William Jordan

William Jordan was the speaker at today's Après Midi -- the last session of the season, but not of the year.

Jordan is a Foreign Service diplomat who served for 30 years (1981-2011) as a political officer specializing in the Arab world and France. His overseas assignments included Arab nations as Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Syria, Jordan and Algeria, and his responsibilities included reporting and analyzing foreign policy trends (especially as they related to the United States), as well as internal politics, including the rise of radical Islamist forces.

When we asked him to speak on his "Reflections on Terrorism in France," he concurred that it was 'right up his alley.'

If you watch France 24, the national news channel that broadcasts in French, English and Arabic, then you may have seen him comment on these issues. He's also the 'man in the know' for BBC Radio, Radio France International and lectures on foreign affairs at the French Ecole Militaire and at the Paris campus of New York University. He's one of those  Americans in Paris who has made important contributions to our lives and of whom we, as Americans, are unduly proud.

The topic drew a huge audience, in spite of the mid-summer heat and lack of air conditioning. The windows were opened to let in whatever breezes we could muster up, but we had to then contend with the noise of scaffolding being installed next door to the café. William spoke loudly over the clinging and clanking, plus the occasional siren and was not deterred. Those who came to hear him talk about this important and fascinating topic didn't seem to mind too terribly that the conditions were less than perfect.

It would be impossible to reiterate even some of the personal stories he told about his experiences or to even touch on the in-depth knowledge he has on the subject, but he does maintain certain opinions on how our countries, both U.S. and France, are dealing with the "war on terrorism" effectively or not and how it is clear we have not seen the end of it. His opening remarks were about how terrorism is not new to France, citing incidents of long ago, pointing out that the reason we now have clear plastic trash bins all over town is the result of a bomb placed in a metal trash can that took place on August 18th, 1995 near the Arc de Triomphe wounding 17 people.

Early in the day, there was a news report on France 24 about the grouping together and isolating of radical Islamist inmates in prisons as “potentially dangerous” and today it was announced that "The editor of Charlie Hebdo has said that cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed will no longer be published by the French satirical magazine, six months after 12 people were killed in an attack on its Paris offices by Islamist gunmen."

The faces were frowned during William's talk as the topic is less than exhilarating, but some were taking copious notes. He ended the session with the best defense: to be on the defensive at all times, but not to stop living your lives, much like the Israelis have learned to do since the beginning of their nation.

"Après Midi" took place on the third Tuesday of the month on this one occasion as it would normally have taken place on the second Tuesday of the month: the 14th -- Bastille Day. The Café de la Mairie closes during August and so will "Parler Paris Après Midi," reopening for La Rentrée on September 14th. Amazingly, our monthly coffee gathering has taken place since December 10, 2002 and in this exact location since October 2003!

It started thanks to all of you readers who wrote and asked me to join you for a cup of coffee while you were visiting Paris. Of course, this would not be possible (I'd be drinking coffee all day long, every day!), but as a way of gathering you together to meet me and one another, we made a simple announcement in the November 25, 2002 issue of Parler Paris to join us at a nearby café. At the time, the café was not far away, known as Le Web Bar, on rue de Picardie.

This  issue of Parler Paris reported on the event. Sixteen readers attended including several aficionados who still frequent our meetings! It wasn't until much later that we added a speaker -- a welcome addition we have never regretted.

In attendance were:

•    Anne Muenchinger
•    Barney Kirchhoff
•    Bernadette Bakom
•    Brenda Prowse
•    Clair Urness
•    Corinne Courivaud
•    David Burke
•    Dick Aherne
•    Don Read
•    Hanna Hacham
•    Jane Ann Riley
•    Jane Currie
•    Janet Connelly
•    Janet Hulstrand
•    Judy Blankenship
•    Kimo Gerald
•    Laurie Kendall
•    Linda Quinet
•    Lois and Rob Mandel
•    Louraine Arkfeld
•    Lydia Smith-Johnston
•    Marie Jo Clet
•    Marilee McClintock
•    Mary Louise Sillman
•    Pam Perry
•    Patricia Laplante Collins
•    Patty Sadauskas
•    Robert Barton-Clegg
•    Tiffany Urness
•    Ywan Penvern

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