The Uglier Side of Life in Paris
I really wanted to write about all the good things happening in Paris…like Paris Plage, the Cinéma au Clair de Lune, the Paris Quartier d’Eté, the finish line of the Tour de France on the Champs-Elysées and a myriad of other events that keep Parisians happy all summer long while others are on the beaches or in their country homes or traveling to places they have never seen before.
But, it seems that there are other things taking place of more importance.
It would be unconscionable for me, as an American reporting on life in Paris and France, to ignore the uglier side of our daily lives by focusing solely on the rosier view of the upcoming summer activities — especially since this morning, my email inbox was overflowing with warnings. The U.S. Embassy posted a warning to U.S. citizens regarding a planned pro-Palestinian demonstration to begin at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday July 23, beginning at Place Denfert-Rochereau and ending at Les Invalides. This demonstration has been approved by the authorities, but others may occur with or without that approval. They warn that there is a potential for violence, like we’ve seen in the past demonstrations.
French authorities have given this one the green light — a demonstration designed to “protest Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip.” The march is sponsored by an organization promoting peace in the area (the National Collective for a Just Peace between Israelis and Palestinians) and is the first authorized demonstration since the July 13th violence near Place de la Bastille. The French government made an effort to ban the demonstrations, but was criticized for heightening the tensions and infringing on civil liberties. The government claims the violence by extremist groups among the protestors is reason enough to ban the demonstrations.
Everyone is blaming everyone else for everyone’s bad conduct! The right UMP party doesn’t agree with lifting the ban, as espoused by Christian Estrosi, Mayor of Nice (see the video crif.org/fr/actualites/), while the leftist groups such as the Communist Party (PCF), the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA), France’s Green Party (EELV) and the Human Rights League (LDH) are joining in the protest. Even the ruling Socialist Party has announced their intention of taking part.
Most simply want an end to the violence and are demanding it in a peaceful way, but so much anger is involved that anti-Semitism worldwide is on the rise. Attacks on synagogues are not only happening in France, they’re happening elsewhere, such as Germany, the Netherlands and Morocco — although more incidents in France have been reported (accounting for 30% of the attacks in 2012). It also has the third largest Jewish community in the world, after the U.S. and Israel, so it’s logical France tops the charts from a numbers standpoint.
I’m not sure most people know there is a difference between being Jewish and being Israeli. There are Jews living all over the world who have no affiliation with Israel, nor who are Zionists or agree with Israeli political policies, yet the anti-Semitism is not “anti-Israeli,” but “anti-Jewish.” Recent anti-Semitic slogans (which shall not be repeated here) are shades of Nazi Germany. Could it really happen again? Have we learned nothing?
I am bombarded with emails from family, friends and Parler Paris readers about the rise in anti-Semitism in France as well as the increased emigration of French Jews to safer lands. I have defended “the French” as I believe the sentiment comes mostly from the pro-Palestinian extremists living in France who aren’t thought of highly by “the French” themselves. Still, the rise in anti-Semitism is in direct line with the escalation of the conflict in Gaza and Israel. If the two parties can end the violence, we can also reduce the Nazi-style racial hatred.
Meanwhile, both U.S. and European airlines are suspending flights to Tel Aviv. Delta and United Airlines “announced that they were indefinitely halting service to Tel Aviv after a rocket was reported to have fallen near the city’s Ben Gurion International Airport earlier in the day.” And the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned all U.S. flights to and from Tel Aviv for at least 24 hours.
Todd Rome, President, Blue Star Jets, wrote me that he has private jets standing by for those who must travel in or out of Israel. Call him at +1 (888) 439-8228 or email him at [email protected] for further assistance.
My friends living in Tel Aviv are suffering as are all of us, not just the Palestinians and the Israelis, but as you see, the Parisians, the Americans and the whole world. One friend wrote: “We’re fine — just very very sad. The suffering on both sides is unbearable. The poor civilians of Gaza are victims of a vicious leadership that has no interest in protecting them. And the civilians of southern Israel are living a nightmare. Just praying that it will end soon and that a serious effort will be made to find a diplomatic solution to this wretched land of Gaza…I say we need a Marshall Plan for Gaza!” (K.L.R., Tel Aviv)
The embassy recommends further to enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. The U.S. Embassy here in Paris is at 4, avenue Gabriel, 75008 Paris, telephone in France: +33 (0) 1 43 12 22 22, Website and e-mail [email protected].
Here’s wishing us all a safe and happy summer and an end to the violence in Gaza, Israel and the streets of Paris.
A la prochaine,
P.S. Next week I’ll be writing Parler Nice from Nice and then the following week there will be no Parler Paris, no Parler Nice nor French Property Insider while I take a week-long vacation in the beautiful French island of Corsica!
P.P.S. Attend the Living and Investing in France Mini-Conference — Nice and the Côte d’Azur on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. You’ll learn how to own a “pied-à-terre” of your own on the Riviera, in Paris or a home in the countryside that you can enjoy when you want…or profitably rent when you like…or just make a smart investment, plus ask me all of your questions about owning property in France. Register now and join us in Nice