Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The macabre trial of Prof. George Bensoussan: Verdict today

Update: He was acquitted!

Times of Israel  In their ruling, the tribunal said the plaintiffs failed to substantiate the hate speech charges and concluded that Bensoussan merely “misspoke” in quoting Laacher without intention to incite hatred, AFP reported.

The trial pitted anti-racism activists against one another, including within LICRA. One of France’s most revered thinkers, the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, resigned from its honorary board in protest over what French media called “l’Affaire Bensoussan.”

Long frustrated over what they regard as politically correct censorship, right-leaning French Jews reacted with outrage over Bensoussan’s prosecution.
Arutz 7
George Bensoussan also is a highly reputed authority in the specialized area of Jewish communities in Arab countries. He is a hard-working, productive academic who has contributed significantly to humanitarian causes.

Observing the current macabre-trial-in-progress, one cannot help but think of just two possibilities regarding the incomprehensible, completely irrational behaviour of both French organizations and the juridical authorities: either the Dreyfus Affair mentality is still thriving in the country of the officer who was utterly loyal to his country but had ‘sinned by default’ - that is, by being born Jewish; or French society's way of life in the 21st century makes it prone to a recurrence of the one of the most shameful episodes of French history.

The resurrection of the Dreyfus Affair seems to be perceived by much of the French public and juridical institutions with shocking enthusiasm. In fact, since October 2015, France has been galvanized by what is known as the Bensoussan Trial.[...]

The chronicle of distinguished historian George Bensoussan is in the public domain. To recapitulate briefly, in October 2015, Bensoussan, head of of the Memorial de la Shoah editorial department, was invited by famous French philosopher and member of the French Academy Alain Finkielkraut to participate in a radio program and discussion. In the course of the discussion, Bensoussan, who was born in Morocco and knows the reality of life in the Arab world first-hand, referred to remarks made by Algerian-born Professor Smain Laacheron of Strasbourg University on the topic of anti-Semitism among the Arab families in France, in a film shown on French TV3.

In his portrayal of the anti-Semitic atmosphere which has become the norm in the Arab milieu of France, but is still regarded as an unspoken taboo in France, at least publically, Laacher described extensively the phenomenon of what he called ‘domestic anti-Semitism’ in Arab families, with such details as “one of the parents’ insults to their children when they want to reprimand them, is to call them ‘Jews.'“ Laacher also said on the record, in the movie broadcast on French TV3, that “anti-Semitism in Arab families is first of all domestic (...), it is in the air that one breathes” – all this according to the transcript of the film.

In the radio program discussion which caused the entire brouhaha, George Bensoussan praised professor Laacher for his bravery, and said, re-phrasing Laacher: “ as Laacher very bravely said ( ...), in France, in Arab families ( ...) anti-Semitism is imbibed with one's mother’s milk.”

It took only three days for a group of pro-Islamic activists to bring their claim against George Bensoussan to the French media watch-dog, CSA, accusing the historian of propagating "biological racism.” The absurd accusations snowballed with maddening energy and speed. The absurd does have the characteristic of multiplying in no time, as George Orwell could tell you.

The pro-Islamist organization Le Collectif Contre l'Islamophobie en France (Collective Against Islamophobia in France, CCIF) wasted no time in bringing the case against George Bensoussan to the Paris prefecture which, in a surprising move, decided to prosecute.

That, in our view, was and is the essential point of yet another shameful public trial in France, astonishingly similar to the Stalin show-trials.

There are many organizations involved by now in the Bensoussan Affair, and the French public is also able to observe the intensifying battle within French Jewry, itself divided on what its position should be regarding the senseless witch-hunt of a distinguished Jewish historian.

But in our opinion, these are not the essential things to concentrate on, because the story is hardly surprising.

The core of the matter goes back to November 2015 and the hurried decision of the Paris prefecture to prosecute the distinguished historian in criminal court for paraphrasing another academic. Not only France, but the rest of the world must become familiar with the name of the prosecutor and anyone else who contributed to the Kafka-like realities that occurred in Paris in late January 2017 when the trial took place. George Bensoussan himself, most perceptively, named it ‘intellectual terror.’

It is chilling to admit that George, his friends and people in similar positions in France are living in a literally Kafkian reality.

Remarkably, the film, in which sociologist Laacher gave a long tirade explaining the roots of the current anti-Semitism in Arab families in France, was publically aired in France back in 2015 two weeks after George Bensoussan talked about it, without any consequences for Laacher. Moreover, Laacher published several articles in the leading French media, including Le Monde, both before and after the radio program in which George Bensoussan mentioned him, with no reaction from any of those enthusiastic organizations and activists, and no prosecutor’s interest in him at all.

In the process of the public defense of Bensoussan, several well-known academics of Arab origins were named, men who analyze the phenomenon of anti-Semitism in Arab families in their works and who expressing the same opinion, facts, and analyses publically as did Bensoussan; none of them had ever become the subject of any punitive action or reprimand.

The court hearings in Paris at the end of January 2017 were surreal, with witnesses for the prosecution stating that ‘anti-Semitism, indeed, is rooted in many Arab families in France, but not in every family’; with experts issuing delusional opinions like ‘while Arab families indeed call their children Jews, it is not regarded as an insult, but rather a normal part language and life.’[...]

The supposed justification for prosecuting him, a distinguished historian with an impeccable record of academic research and many books to his credit, a man of high international reputation - boggles the mind. Charged in criminal court for a metaphor? Why should George Bensoussan now have a criminal record? What about his and his family's nerves, health, and emotions? What about the moral consequences of this ongoing witch-hunt, persecution and trial? [...]

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