Yesterday’s New York Sun — a small, conservative New York daily noted for its slavishly pro-Israel, pro-Likkud politics and its pandering to the worst fears of New York’s large Jewish community — yesterday published a hallucinatory article, “France’s Le Pen to Strike a Deal with Muslims,” It claims that neo-Fascist and notorious anti-Semite Jean Marie Le Pen — the FÃ¼hrer of the racist Front National party — is “poised to strike an alliance with France’s large immigrant Muslim community.”
The author, one Michel Gurfinkiel, goes on to assert, “Islamic leaders in France are advising their followers to act as ‘democratic and responsible citizens,’ i.e., to register as prospective voters and to enter as full-fledged activists into all major political parties, either right of left. Indeed, a reconstructed, Muslim-friendly National Front stands a good chance to win many of them.”
Now, I lived in France for nearly a decade, and have written frequently on the European extreme right (see, for example, my article in The Nation explaining how and why Le Pen created a political earthquake when he defeated the Socialist Party’s candidate for a place in the 2002 presidential run-off, “Le Pen: The Center Folds”.) My immediate reaction to the Sun’s article was that it was bilge. But just to make sure I hadn’t missed any recent developments, I e-mailed the article to several French journalists of my acquaintance — and all agreed that the Sun’s claims were complete tommyrot.
“Claiming that Le Pen could get ‘many’ Muslim votes, as the Sun does, is equivalent to having pretended that George Wallace could get a lot of black votes in Harlem,” sneers Helene Hazera, a friend at Radio France, the public radio network, who knows the French ghetto culture well, adding, “Le Pen is the embodiment of everything the Franco-Arab population detests–he represents for them what their racist neighbor ‘gaulois’ thinks of them.”
Ever since Le Pen founded the Front National (FN) in 1972, racism has been his electoral stock-in-trade, as he has crusaded against immigrants of color, both Maghrebins (those of Muslim North African origin) and blacks from France’s former colonies. He has called immigrants “a mortal danger” to France, and campaigned to have 3 million “non-Europeans” deported, while the platform of the FN — which claims to be the “inheritor” of the legacy of “the Crusaders and the [French] Empire-builders” — calls for a total halt to immigration, opposes the right to vote for immigrants, and favors a “national preference” for “native French” in government social welfare programs. During the ghetto riots in France last October and November (which I explained in “Why Is France Burning?” ), not only did Le Pen call for the declaration of a state of emergency and the imposition of a curfew in the ghettos before President Jacques Chirac ordered them, Le Pen went further, demanding that the army be sent into the ghettos. (Le Pen is well-known to have engaged in torture when he was a non-commissioned officer during France’s colonial war in Algeria, as Le Monde has documented carefully in the past — and that is something that Franco-Arabs (the majority of Algerian origin) will neither forget nor forgive. That is why it is patently absurd to postulate, as Gurfinkiel’s article in the Sun does, that the FN “is surprisingly popular among Muslim immigrants or second-generation Muslim citizens.” Quite the opposite: when Le Pen, the FN’s presidential candidate, made it into the 2002 run-off against Chirac, the anti-FN mobilization in the Muslim community was total because the party and its leader were both seen (correctly) as quintessentially racist, and Le Pen garnered only a handful of votes in Franco-Arab communities.
There are many other idiocies in Gurfinkiel’s article. He claims that the once-popular comic DieudonnÃ© — who in recent years has become stridently anti-Semitic — “has turned into an enormously popular French equivalent of Louis Farrakhan,” and affirms (by quoting the indigestible Bernard-Henry Levy, a.k.a BHL) that DieudonnÃ© is morally “Le Pen’s son.” But, as Xavier de la Porte of Radio France (author of a number of political books, including one on BHL) e-mailed me this morning, “DieudonnÃ© has always been a militant opponent of Le Pen. He ran against the FN on an anti-racist platform in several elections. BHL has blown a fuse when he claims that ‘Dieudo’ is ‘Le Pen’s son,’ because his anti-Semitism is of a very different character than Le Pen’s — the comic is pro-Palestinian, a primitive Third Worlder, vaguely pro-Black, and infinitely less ideological than Farrakhan.
Most of all, DieudonnÃ© has never organized a ‘Million Man March’ and has no organized troops as Farrakahn does– he’s a total pariah today on both the political scene and in the media landscape, and is seen as a pathetic loser.”
Then, Gurfinkiel claims as more evidence of his thesis a recent book by Jean-Claude Martinez, a Front National member of the European Parliament, entitled “To all French citizens who may have voted for Le Pen if only once in their life”, which, Gurfinkiel says, argues the FN must “welcome immigrant blacks and Arabs into the national fold” — and adding that Martinez is supported by Le Pen’s eldest daughter, Marine. But what Gurfinkiel doesn’t tell you, as Claude Angeli — editor of the investigative-satirical weekly Le Canard EnchainÃ© and the dean of French investigative reporters — said to me on the ‘phone from Paris this morning, is that “the book actually attacks Le Pen, and Martinez is on the outs with Le Pen and in a distinct minority within the party. Moreover, when Marine Le Pen made similar noises to those of Martinez, she was slapped down in public by her father, who distanced himself from her and put her into political isolation within the Front. And the idea of Muslims voting en masse for the FN is ridiculous.”
So, just who is this Michel Gurfinkiel, author of the Sun’s deranged article? He’s the editor of a small magazine, Valeurs Actuelles, noted for its anti-mmigrant and homophobic views, and that — as Angeli told me — “is ideologically very extreme right.” The president of the editorial committee of Gurfinkiel’s magazine is a former leader of the French extreme right, Francois d’Orcival .This d’Orcival was a leader of Jeune Nation (Young Nation), a violent group of ultra-rightists dissolved by the French government in 1958. In 1960, d’Orcival was a founder of the Federation of Nationalist Students (FEN), which participated in the violent bombing campaign of the OAS (the pro-Algerie francaise Organization of the Secret Army) during France’s Algerian war — for which d’Orcival was interned by the government in a prison camp with other OAS and FEN members in 1962. A close associate of the theorist of a “Nordic Europe,” the extreme-right ideologue Alain de Benoist, d’Orcival co-authored with de Benoist a book in praise of the OAS and of Ian Smith, the then racist prime minister of Rhodesia, entitled “Le courage est leur patrie” (Courage is Their Country).
D’Orcival was also a founder of GRECE (Reserach Group for the Study of European Civilization), an extreme-right group of Nordic-pagan ideologists noted for their strident anti-Americanism. D’Orcival is today the editorialist for the magazine Gurfinkiel edits, Valeurs Actuelles, and serves as the mag’s public face on radio and TV shows.
“When Gurfinkiel became editor of Valeurs Actuelles,” Angeli told me, “he was widely criticized, particularly in the French Jewish community — ‘how can a Jew be part of such an extreme-right magazine?’ they said.” Valeurs Actuelles is owned by the right-wing French cosmetics king Pierre Fabre — whose director of information for eight years was (according to the weeklyb L’Express) none other than Bernard Antony, a longtime Front National leader, one of the Front National’s elected members of the European Parliament and an ultramontane Catholic fundamentalist and notorious gay-baiter who insists on mass being celebrated in Latin.
So, why is the New York Sun publishing the unfounded fantasies of a toady of France’s extreme right? Gurfinkiel’s hallucinations include the following declaration: “The Islamicization of France is largely a fait accompli.” If that is true, will the Sun kindly explain to us why there is not a single Muslim member of the French parliament.? Sheesh!