Théâtre/Roméo et Juliette: Morts pour satisfaire aux exigences d’un genre littéraire (How the Bard sacrificed his ‘star-crossed lovers’ on the altar of literary conventions while pointing out the perpetual frustration behind eternal love)

31 mars, 2013
http://artreproductionsmasterpiece.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/lord-frederic-leighton-dead-bodies-of-romeo-and-juliet.jpghttps://i2.wp.com/www.franceculture.fr/sites/default/files/imagecache/slider_une_letterbox/2013/03/28/4598616/images/slider/rondslider.jpghttp://vivrelemarais.typepad.fr/.a/6a00d8341d8a0f53ef017ee9cddc83970d-500wiC’est avec les beaux sentiments qu’on fait de la mauvaise littérature. André Gide
Shakespeare est reconnu aujourd’hui comme auteur dramatique, mais il n’y avait pas alors de droit d’auteur et aucun certitude que ses pièces pourraient un jour générer des revenus. Ce qui le conduisit à l’évasion fiscale, la prévarication et l’usure. Jayne Archer (Aberystwyth University)
Il nous arriverait, si nous savions mieux analyser nos amours, de voir que souvent les femmes ne nous plaisent qu’à cause du contrepoids d’hommes à qui nous avons à les disputer (…) ce contrepoids supprimé, le charme de la femme tombe. On en a un exemple dans l’homme qui, sentant s’affaiblir son goùt pour la femme qu’il aime, applique spontanément les règles qu’il a dégagées, et pour être sûr qu’il ne cesse pas d’aimer la femme, la met dans un milieu dangereux où il faut la protéger chaque jour. Proust (La Prisonnière)
Tu l’aimes seulement de savoir que je l’aime. Shakespeare (Sonnet 42)
Hélas ! d’après tout ce que j’ai pu lire dans l’histoire — ou appris par ouï-dire, — l’amour vrai n’a jamais suivi un cours facile. Shakespeare (Songe d’une nuit d’été)
Ô enfer ! choisir ses amours par les yeux d’autrui ! Shakespeare (Songe d’une nuit d’été)
Deux familles, égales en noblesse, Dans la belle Vérone, où nous plaçons notre scène, Sont entraînées par d’anciennes rancunes à des rixes nouvelles Où le sang des citoyens souille les mains des citoyens. Des entrailles prédestinées de ces deux ennemies A pris naissance, sous des étoiles contraires, un couple d’amoureux Dont la ruine néfaste et lamentable Doit ensevelir dans leur tombe l’animosité de leurs parents. Les terribles péripéties de leur fatal amour Et les effets de la rage obstinée de ces familles, Que peut seule apaiser la mort de leurs enfants … Prologue (Roméo et Juliette, Shakespeare)
Où sont-ils, ces ennemis ? Capulet ! Montague ! Voyez par quel fléau le ciel châtie votre haine : pour tuer vos joies, il se sert de l’amour !… Et moi, pour avoir fermé les yeux sur vos discordes, j’ai perdu deux parents. Nous sommes tous punis. Ô Montague, mon frère, donne-moi ta main. (Il serre la main de Montague.) Voici le douaire de ma fille ; je n’ai rien à te demander de plus. Mais moi, j’ai à te donner plus encore. Je veux dresser une statue de ta fille en or pur. Tant que Vérone gardera son nom, il n’existera pas de figure plus honorée que celle de la loyale et fidèle Juliette. Je veux que Roméo soit auprès de sa femme dans la même splendeur : pauvres victimes de nos inimitiés ! Cette matinée apporte avec elle une paix sinistre, le soleil se voile la face de douleur. Partons pour causer encore de ces tristes choses. Il y aura des graciés et des punis. Car jamais aventure ne fut plus douloureuse que celle de Juliette et de son Roméo. Scène finale (Roméo et Juliette, Shakespeare)
Vous embrassez exactement comme il faut. Juliette (Roméo et Juliette, Shakespeare)
Mon seul amour né de ma seule haine ! Inconnu vu trop tôt et reconnu trop tard Monstreuse est pour moi la naissance de l’amour Que je doive aimer un amour abhorré. Juliette (Roméo et Juliette, Shakespeare)
Ô cœur-serpent, caché sous ce visage de fleurs ! Quel dragon a jamais vécu dans un si bel antre ! Magnifique tyran, démon angélique, Corbeau aux plumes de colombe, agneau vorace comme le loup ! Substance méprisable sous une forme divine, En tout point le contraire de ce que tu sembles en tout, Saint qui sera damné, traître sous l’aspect de l’honneur ! Oh, qu’est-ce donc, nature, qui te poussait en enfer Lorsque tu accueillis cet esprit du mal Au paradis mortel d’une chair aussi douce ? Y a-t-il jamais eu d’aussi vils ouvrages Sous reliure aussi belle ? Et, faut-il que la fourberie Habite en un palais de tant de splendeurs ? Juliette (Roméo et Juliette, Shakespeare)
Oh ! combien efficace est la grâce qui réside dans les herbes, dans les plantes, dans les pierres et dans leurs qualités intimes ! Il n’est rien sur la terre de si humble qui ne rende à la terre un service spécial ; il n’est rien non plus de si bon qui, détourné de son légitime usage, ne devienne rebelle à son origine et ne tombe dans l’abus. La vertu même devient vice, étant mal appliquée, et le vice est parfois ennobli par l’action. Deux reines ennemies sont sans cesse en lutte dans l’homme comme dans la plante, la grâce et la rude volonté ; et là ou la pire prédomine, le ver de la mort a bien vite dévoré la créature. Frère Laurent
Phyrame et Thisbé meurent, comme Roméo et Juliette, pour satisfaire aux exigences d’un genre littéraire. René Girard (Shakespeare: les feux de l’envie, 1990)
Dans les comédies de Shakespeare, tous les amoureux se prennent pour des incarnations de « l’amour vrai ». (…) « L’amour vrai » est l’équivalent élisabéthain de ce que nous appellerions le grand amour, l’amour-toujours, l’amour-passion. (…) Si cet « amour vrai » était aussi indépendant qu’il se prétend, les deux amants se satisferaient de leur présence mutuelle sans jamais s’empêtrer avec les autres. Or, dans les comédies de Shakespeare, il en va tout autrement. (…) L’illusion de « l’amour vrai » recouvre un désir mimétique. Loin de prendre leur source dans les amants eux-mêmes, leurs amourettes sont suscitées par leur perpétuelle imitation les uns des autres et des contes qu’ils ont pu lire. (…) Il en va tout autrement de Roméo et Juliette: ces deux-là sont tellement incapables de tromperie que rien de véritablement tragique, rien de dramatiquement excitant ne peut venir perturber leur relation. (…) Aussi souhaitable soit-elle dans la vraie vie, cette absence de possibilités dramatiques est désastreuse au théâtre, à moins bien sûr que le dramaturge ne trouve un moyen de pallier l’inadéquation théâtrale de « l’amour vrai ». Shakespeare n’a pas attendu André Gide pour savoir qu’on ne fait pas  de bonne littérature avec de bons sentiments. Dans Roméo et Juliette, tous les effets dramatiques sont importés de l’extérieur de l’histoire d’amour. Le subterfuge tient à la querelle sanglante qui oppose les deux familles véronaises. (…) Shakespeare doit constamment y revenir pour pimenter cette romance désespéremment plate (…) Il n’y a rien d’étonnant à ce qu’une vendetta instaure un climat de peur et de violence. Ce qui l’est davantage dans Roméo et Juliette, c’est de voir à quel point celle-ci affecte le langage de la passion  et, en particulier, l’expression par Juliette de son amour pour Roméo. La vendetta devient une sorte de procédé littéraire (…) la rhétorique flamboyante de Roméo et Juliette. La figure de style la plus remarquable est sans doute l’oxymore, qui consiste à juxtaposer deux émotions contraires, la joie et la tristesse, le plaisir et la douleur et, surtout, l’amour et la haine.(…) La plus spectaculaire collection d’oxymores intervient quand Roméo a tué Tybalt, son cousin germain et ami d’enfance (…)  Amoureuse, Juliette bénit Roméo; cousine de Tybalt, elle le maudit. Aussi Juliette est-elle un oxymore vivant. (…) Mais (…) les oxymores sont trop nombreux, trop spectaculaires, trop stéréotypés aussi – la plupart d’entre eux se retrouvent dans d’autres pièces du même auteur – pour qu’on ne soupçonne pas ici une intention ironique, une intention de parodie. (…) Le langage de l’amour vrai devrait en principe, être entièrement positif et ne se composer que de mots d’affection, de louange, d’admiration, de tendresse … Tous les oxymores hystériques servent le même propos chez Shakespeare, ainsi que dans la poésie amoureuse de la renaissance baroque. (…) L’oxymore appartient  bien  au registre de la jalousie érotique (…) Bien que Juliette n’ai aucun motif d’être jalouse, Shakespeare est trop habile pour ignorer que le désir le plus fort repose sur la frustration plutôt que sur l’assouvissement. (…) L’amour de Roméo et Juliette a beau se définir comme innocent et doux, il obéit manifestement à cette loi. (…) La loi du  désir mimétique est la frustration universelle. (…) L’objet dont la possession est assurée est un objet qu’aucun modèle et rival puissant ne nous désigne et il a tôt fait de perdre son attrait mimétique. Les seuls objets qui restent désirables en permanence sont les objets inaccessibles, ceux qui sont désignés par des modèles trop puissants pour être vaincus.  (…) Quelles que soient ses combinaisons, le désir mimétique obéit toujours à cette loi imparable: son intensité est proportionnelle à ses perspectives de satisfaction. (…) Pour conjurer le sentiment d’intense passion qu’attend son public, sans toutefois avoir à en payer le prix, il doit importer la violence en contrebande et c’est précisément ce que permet la vendetta. (…) En misant sur la rivalité des deux clans, Shakespeare a le beurre et l’argent du beurre: il peut mettre sur le compte de la querelle familiale une violence qui, en réalité, joue un rôle positif dans le discours des amants et lui donne les accents d’une véritable passion. (…) Si Shakespeare avait vraiment conçu sa pièce dans le goût romantique habituel, aurait-il choisi de montrer dès le début un Roméo enamouré d’une autre Capulet, cette Rosaline qu’il bassine de clichés poétiques resservis par la suite à Juliette ? S’il avait voulu faire de Roméo et Juliette les parangons de l’amour vrai, les aurait-il présentés sous les traits de petits snobs mimétiques ? C’est bien ce qu’il fait au début de la pièce quand, après un premier baiser échangé avec Roméo, Juliette s’écrie: « Vous embrassez exactement comme il faut ! » non pour blâmer son manque de spontanéité mais applaudir sa parfaite obéissance aux règles de l’art en vogue. Dans Roméo et Juliette, la haine dans l’amour a une fonction équivalente à celle du pharmakon dans le culte dyonisiaque de la Grèce antique. Cette violence est à la fois bonne et mauvaise, offensive et apaisante. Frère Laurent, qui essaie en vain de manipuler son monde, est peut-être un porte-parole clownesque de l’auteur et metteur en scène qu’est Shakespeare. Aussitôt entré en scène, il se lance dans un discours édifiant à propos du pharmakon, qui peut se lire comme une allégorie de Roméo et Juliette. Shakespeare, conscient des compromis sacrificiels avec la vérité que ménage la rhétorique de sa pièce, ne signale-t-il pas ici à ses lecteurs les plus avertis la place ambivalente qu’y occupe la violence? René Girard (« Passion et violence dans Roméo et Juliette », Géométries du désir, 2007-2011)

Alors qu’un théâtre élisabéthain sur le modèle du Globe londonien (en bois et démontable s’il vous plait) s’installe sur les rives de la Seine et nous présente Roméo et Juliette …

Pendant que sur sa terre natale même, l’on (re)découvre certaines des faces cachées du célébrissime Barde  …

Retour, avec René Girard, sur le véritable tour de force du maitre de Stratford sur « l’amour vrai » …

Où, sous couvert d’un prétendu sacrifice d’ « innocentes victimes d’une querelle ancestrale »,  les amants meurent en fait pour « satisfaire aux exigences d’un genre littéraire » …

Autrement dit où Shakespeare sauve l’amour vrai et sa pièce de son inévitable ennui ….

En en rajoutant, sur fond de vendetta familiale, sur la rhétorique flamboyante et les oxymores …

Et en faisant courir, de Rosaline (par elle-même via son voeu de chasteté) en Juliette (par la querelle familiale), les femmes interdites à son Roméo …

Redémontrant ainsi l’ultime axiome de l’amour fou à savoir son inverse proportionalité à ses perspectives de satisfaction …

Et rappellant que l’amour, réputé pur et spontané, n’est jamais le plus souvent qu’une poursuite de modèles …

L’indispensable troisième terme de l’équation amoureuse sans lequel, garant de son inaccessibilité,  il ne saurait y avoir d’objet durablement désirable …

The passionate oxymoron in Romeo and Juliet

René Girard

In the comedies of Shakespeare, all characters infatuated with one another see themselves as perfect embodiments of ‘true love.’ Love is true to the extent that the two partners in it are interested in each other exclusively and indifferent to intermediaries, go-betweens and third parties in general. ‘True love’ is the Elizabethan equivalent of what we call a great passion, an authentic passion, l’amour-toujours. It insists on its independence from the entire world, from other people in general. This concept is suffused with the spirit of modern individualism.

If this ‘true love’ were as independent as it claims, the two lovers would be satisfied with each other’s company and never become entangled with anyone else. In the comedies of Shakespeare, the opposite happens. True love constantly runs into trouble. This is what Lysander explains to his beloved Hermia at the beginning of A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

Ay me! for aught that ever I could read,

Could ever hear by tale or history,

The course of true love never did run smooth,

The lovers do not feel responsible for the misfortunes of true love. They see themselves as innocent victims of tyrannical parents, jealous friends and other unwanted meddlers. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is at one level the celebration of that myth and, at a deeper level, its humorous deconstruction. That is why four lovers are needed instead of two. Their unseemly entanglements during the long and hot midsummer night are blamed on the most charming and preposterous excuse imaginable. Under the pretense of helping the lovers solve their various problems, some mischievous fairies have been squeezing a potent love potion into the eyes of the wrong lovers…

Behind the self-deceit of ‘true love,’ the truth is mimetic desire. Far from being rooted deep in the lovers themselves, their adolescent infatuations result from their perpetual imitations of one another and of the books they read. These four lovers predictably end up fighting over the same object, the two boys over the same girl, the two girls over the same boy. These spoiled adolescents have too much time on their hands and too little to worry about. The more they exalt true love in theory, the less they abide by it in practice. This fairy tale is the ballet of mimetic disharmony, so harmonious in its symmetries that this miraculous masterpiece is most often mistaken for a triumph of pure form over content, not quite worthy of its creator’s genius.

In a book that I wrote on Shakespeare,1 I suggested that authentic ‘true love’ is nowhere to be found in the early Shakespeare. But I say nothing in that book on the play that seems to contradict this conclusion most spectacularly: Romeo and Juliet of course.

One could argue that the love affair is too short in that play to be tested for its durability but that would be piddling. It must be granted also that Romeo and Juliet are fiercely loyal and honest with one another. One obvious indication of Juliet’s ‘truth’ or ‘authenticity’ is her refusal to ‘act coy’ with her lover, unless specifically requested by him to do so:

O gentle Romeo,

If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully;

Or if thou thinkest I am too quickly won,

I’ll frown and be perverse, and say thee nay. (II.i.135-38)

In order to see what is at stake here, one must compare Juliet with another Shakespearean heroine more similar to her than generally realized, Cressida. Just like Juliet, Cressida surrenders too quickly and impetuously to her first lover, Troilus. Just like Juliet, she perceives the danger but, just like Juliet once again, she cannot dissemble and she throws all caution to the winds. Just like Juliet, Cressida rashly bets that her first lover is trustworthy, but with entirely different results.

On the morning after Cressida becomes his mistress, Troilus unwittingly reveals to her his cheap masculine vanity, his mediocrity, his selfishness, his arrogance, his cruel indifference. Those who turn Cressida into a symbol of unprovoked feminine infidelity must be just as sexist as Troilus, I am afraid, since they remain blind to the young man’s faults which are glaringly obvious. Far from being a victim, Troilus is twice the corruptor of Cressida. On top of his other faults, he is so naively jealous that he, himself, suggests to his quick-witted mistress the only vengeance available to a woman in her situation.

Romeo and Juliet are very different; they are so incapable of treachery that… nothing really tragic, nothing dramatically exciting should disrupt their relationship.

In such plays as Troilus and Cressida, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, etc., the relations between the characters are treacherous enough to provide the incidents that will keep the public entertained. Not so in Romeo and Juliet.

However wonderful and admirable this is in real life, in the theater, this lack of dramatic possibilities is an unmitigated disaster unless, of course, the playwright takes underhanded measures to hide the dramatic inadequacy of ‘true love.’

Shakespeare did not need André Gide to teach him that ‘good sentiments do not add up to good literature.’ In Romeo and Juliet, all dramatic effects are imported from outside the love affair. The solution is the Verona bloodfeud. This is the reason why, from the first to the last line, the mutual hatred of the Montagues and the Capulets plays an enormous role in this play. Shakespeare must constantly return to it in order to spice up his inevitably undramatic love affair. He resorts to several tricks to do this: the famous balcony scene exemplifies the simplest and most obvious of these tricks.

In traditional balcony scenes, some of the suspense at least, is generated by the frightened young lady who threatens to shut her window, even call her father for help. In our case, this resource is not available. Juliet has made it clear that Romeo is welcome at any time not only in the balcony but in the bedroom itself. Romeo knows this and we know it too. We also know that everybody knows. Shakespeare has cut himself off from the sources of traditional suspense so efficiently that he must resort to something else and this something else is always the bloodfeud in Romeo and Juliet. The blood feud is represented by Juliet’s ferocious kinsmen who are supposed to be hiding in the bushes. Even for a lesser offense than climbing Juliet’s balcony, they would gladly massacre a dozen Montagues before breakfast:

Juliet. If they do see thee, they will murther thee.

Romeo. Alack, there lies more peril in thine eye

Than twenty of their swords! Look thou but sweet,

And I am proof against their enmity.

Juliet. I would not for the world they saw thee here.

Romeo. I have night’s cloak to hide me from their eyes,

And but thou love me, let them find me here;

My life were better ended by their hate,

Than death prorogued, wanting of thy love. (ii.ii.70-78)

The ferocious relatives never show up. On that particular day, they had the night off obviously, but, until the last second, we feel Romeo and Juliet speak about nothing but them. Even as a subject of conversation, the Capulet kinsmen are sorely needed. Like most young lovers, Romeo and Juliet have just about nothing to say to each other. Romeo keeps pretending that his greatest fear is Juliet’s possible indifference to him, more to be feared in his eyes than the entire Capulet military but he is not very convincing. It must be his delicate sense of courtesy that makes him speak in this manner.

It is quite normal for a bloodfeud to spread fear and violence in the vicinity. Nothing surprising there. What is more remarkable, in Romeo and Juliet, is the extent to which the bloodfeud affects the language of passion, especially Juliet’s expression of her love for Romeo. The bloodfeud becomes a kind of literary device and that is an amazing role for a bloodfeud to play, which is nothing, after all, but an endless chain of vengeance.

* * *

In order to elucidate this aspect, I must first recall a problem much discussed fifty or a hundred years ago, and it was the rather flamboyant rhetoric in Romeo and Juliet. The most noticeable figure of speech is the oxymoron, of course. It consists in juxtaposing two emotional opposites, joy and sadness, pleasure and pain, above all love and hatred.

As we all know, in the love poetry of early modern Europe there is a strong impulse to associate words of passionate love with words of intense hostility. Early 20th century critics felt uncomfortable with the oxymoron in general and the official reason was the inner contradiction that it implies. Opposites are by definition incompatible and to bring them together in a single figure of speech seemed unreasonable. A literary work with too many oxymora was regarded too irrational to reach genuine greatness.

The old humanistic critics regarded oxymora as a sign of self-indulgence on the author’s part, a youthful weakness perhaps in the case of Romeo and Juliet. Is the oxymoron fever bad enough in this play to require its exclusion from the list of Shakespeare’s ‘unquestioned masterpieces?’ This debate seems a little naive today but no one then disputed its legitimacy.

One of the reasons why this affair seemed important, in the case of Romeo and Juliet, was the prominence of ‘true love’ in that play. The critics of that time had a romantic soul, really, always a little at odds with their sense of responsibility they felt as ‘serious critics.’ They regarded authentic love as the greatest emotion of the human heart. Since there is precious little of it in Shakespeare’s theater, even by the most optimistic estimates, Romeo and Juliet assumed a great importance in their eyes. Is it not fitting that the supreme playwright in the English language would have devoted at least one of his ‘unquestioned masterpieces’ to the exaltation of true love? Romeo and Juliet seemed the best candidate for the role. Hence the eagerness to rank this play with ‘the bard’s unquestioned masterpieces.’ The main obstacle was the excessive abundance of oxymora in that play. Do they not suggest that the author failed to regard it with all the seriousness an unquestioned masterpiece deserves?

The most spectacular collection of oxymora in the whole play is Juliet’s reaction to the news that Romeo has killed her first cousin and childhood friend Tybalt:

O serpent heart hid with a flow’ring face!

Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?

Beautiful tyrant! Fiend angelical!

Dove-feather’d raven! Wolfish ravening lamb!

Despised substance of divinest show!

Just opposite to what thou justly seem’st,

A damned saint, an honorable villain!

O nature, what hadst thou to do in hell

When thou didst bower the spirit of a fiend

In mortal paradise of such sweet flesh?

Was ever book containing such vile matter

So fairly bound? O that deceit should dwell

In such a gorgeous palace! (iii.ii.76-85)

When considered in and by themselves, these oxymora make little sense. Take the expression ‘fiend angelical’ for instance. A ‘fiend’ and an ‘angel’ are poles apart and to associate the two seems absurd. If Juliet regards Romeo as a fiend, she should say so and leave it at that. If she regards him as an angel, she should says so and keep quiet. To fuse the two together and call Romeo a ‘fiend angelical’ is a contradiction in terms and it should be avoided.

Such is the traditional reasoning against oxymora. It fails to take into account the fact that even in the most quiet lives, enormously upsetting events with opposite impacts may occur in such quick succession that they impinge on one another and chaos results. This is precisely what’s happening to Juliet. She has fallen in love with a man she should regard as a murderer, now more than ever, since he has killed Tybalt. The old hatred is fighting with her new love in such a way as to turn her heart into a jumble of opposites, endlessly clashing together.

The real question is not the intrinsic reasonableness of oxymora but how appropriate they are to the chaotic situation of the character who resorts to them. As a lover, Juliet blesses Romeo; as Tybalt’s cousin, she curses him. Juliet is a living oxymoron therefore.

My explication of the oxymora is commonsensical really since it is demanded by the plot. But the plot, here, is not the whole story; it does not really account for the impression made by Juliet’s tirade. The oxymora are simply too numerous, too spectacular, too stereotyped as well – most of them appear elsewhere in other Shakespeare plays – to make us suspect some irony on the author’s part, some deliberate parody.

Is Shakespeare really trying to portray Juliet, or rather himself as a compulsive producer of oxymora? He must have had something more interesting in mind, something more relevant to the nature of this particular play. What is there to be ironic about?

It is remarkable that, in the tirade that I quoted, there is not one reference to the violent death of Tybalt or even to Tybalt himself, not one allusion to the supposed cause of this amazing assemblage of rhetorical figures.

If we read this text as a separate poem in an anthology, a reading which, at least underhandedly, Shakespeare seems to invite, what impression will it make on us? If we did not know where this text comes from, we would never suspect that it is triggered by the violent death of a close relative. It would sound to us like the speech of a woman whose reasons to grieve come from her lover, no doubt, and are directly rooted in the love affair itself, in his behavior as a lover, not in the death of some relative. We would guess that the speaker has some reason to distrust the man with whom she is madly in love. She seems to fear that, in return for her love, he does not love her half as much as he should. She suspects something dreadful from the standpoint of her passion, more dreadful than the death of a dozen relatives, some infidelity of course…

The worst aspect of the situation, as we would imagine it, is that, far from being diminished by the young man’s probable betrayal, the speaker’s passion is increased beyond measure and she is humiliated, she is deeply ashamed of herself. She should return the culprit’s indifference with an even stonier indifference; she should serve him a dose of his own medicine and make her indifference manifest but she cannot do it. She feels utterly defeated. She cannot forget the angel behind the fiend that her lover has become for her: he really fits the ‘fiend angelical’ formula.

Before learning about Tybalt’s death, Juliet might have compared Romeo to an ‘angel,’ but not to ‘a fiend.’ In the oxymoron ‘fiend angelical,’ the angel is still with us but it is associated to the repulsive ‘fiend.’ The language of ‘true love’, in principle, should be entirely positive; it should be composed only of words of affection, praise, admiration, tenderness… The oxymora associate these words with others that mean the very opposite, words that suggest dislike, blame, abhorrence, fear, even hatred…, here the word ‘fiend.’

This type of combination, it seems, should result in an overall weakening of the passion that Juliet feels for Romeo. When hatred is added to some already existing love, the result should be a subtraction, a diminution, a weakening of the previous erotic tension, rather than an increase. A mixture of hot and cold should produce a lukewarm desire.

The oxymoron does not work that way at all. Instead of lowering the temperature of the passion, it makes it go up. The mixture of love and hatred suggests a love much stronger than the one unmixed with hatred, the one conveyed by a mere accumulation of loving and positive words.

This is not how all the hysterical oxymora operate not only in Shakespeare but in all love poems of the Renaissance baroque era. The favorite topic is the exasperated despair of a spurned lover. The oxymoron is the language of erotic jealousy, not the language of mourning. Shakespeare is aware, I feel, of the real impression conveyed by Juliet’s tirade and, far from emphasizing the secret décalage with the plot, he seems eager to reinforce the feeling the delicate reader must have that something is slightly out of kilter.

The great tirade conveys the impression of a woman madly in love, literally obsessed with Romeo. Juliet has no objective reason to be jealous but Shakespeare is too skillful a writer not to know that the stronger desire lies with the frustrated rather than the happily fulfilled love affair.

This the paradox of the oxymoron: in the right context, a ‘fiend angelical’ will sound more desirable than a mere angel. Why should that be? The negative feelings that, logically should extinguish passion, jealousy, anger, resentment, in reality make it seem stronger. Even though the love of Romeo and Juliet has been defined as innocent and sweet, it obviously obeys that law. Without the oxymora, Juliet’s love for Romeo would sound less hysterical, less intense, therefore, than is desirable. How is this possible?

In order to explain this magic, one must situate the oxymoron in the context of mimetic desire, the type of desire I briefly mentioned in my opening sentences, à propos of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Whenever we desire mimetically, I said, we imitate the desire of someone we admire and we turn it into our own, with the almost inevitable result that we desire the same object as our model, the same woman for instance, like the two boys in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They both love Hermia at the beginning of the play and then, later into the night, they both love Helena. They both shift from one girl to the other and, since they always shift at the same time, under each other’s influence, the rivalry cannot be purely coincidental. The mimetic agreement of two lovers is really the worst possible disagreement. The same is true of the two girls. The one invariant in the whole system is universal rivalry which can only breed universal frustration…

The law of mimetic desire is universal frustration. If you believe that this law is defeated each time one of the rivals decisively triumphs over the other, you are mistaken. The victor appropriates the disputed object but his resulting happiness does not last. A safely possessed object is an object that no powerful model and rival designates to us and it quickly looses its mimetic allure. The only objects that remain permanently desirable are inaccessible objects, the ones designated by models too powerful to be vanquished.

In a world full of hypermimetic individuals, such as the Elizabethan court, or our own consumer society, the principle of frustration is inexorable. The honest reason why the course of true love never did, never does and never will run smooth is that this so-called true love is really not true at all; it is a mimetic desire unable and unwilling to acknowledge its own mimetic nature, a desire that becomes really intense and durable only when it is frustrated by a victorious model and rival.

All mimetic addicts, both males or females, are really addicted to indifference and rejection. This is no masochism in the pompous sense of psychoanalysis, no ‘love of suffering.’ It is the way things are. It is the mimetic mechanism that creates its own nemesis by always preferring the mediated to the unmediated, the inaccessible, therefore, to the accessible.

Mimetic addicts cannot permanently desire someone who responds positively to their own desire and they cannot remain permanently indifferent to someone who is really indifferent to them. The inaccessible woman often combines the roles of object and model, or mediator. She knows how to keep her lover at bay in order to insure his continued enslavement to her. This is how the ‘dark lady’ in the Sonnets acts with the poet. She plays the mimetic game with consummate skill and makes the poet jealous. She knows how to exploit the laws of mimetic desire to her own advantage.

All possible combinations of mimetic desire always obey the law just defined: there is an inverse relationship between the intensity of a desire and its prospects of fulfillment. Mimetic desire is the infallible recipe for a life of endless frustration, perfectly exemplified by Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night. Since intense love is always unrewarded, it always coincides with an intense resentment of the beloved.

It is this combination of passion and resentment that the oxymoron perfectly expresses. There is no love that does not entail some hatred and, reciprocally, no hatred that cannot mysteriously convert to intense passion, if only for an instant, as in the case of Aufidius and Coriolanus. Far from being an ‘artificial’ figure of speech, therefore, as bourgeois optimism suggests, the oxymoron perfectly expresses the type of mimetic relations that love affairs become when they are constantly blocked by mimetic rivalry, real or imagined.

The widespread use and abuse of the oxymoron in the still aristocratic world of early modern literature is not quite the artificial fashion that ‘serious critics’ claim it is. It is rooted in the way erotic relations really were in that world, subject to the same type of frustrations and dysfunctionalities that dominate our own cultural world today, in an even more conspicuous and brutal manner.

In such a world, the educated public becomes accustomed to associate the stronger passion with the figure of speech that brings opposites together, love and hatred, sentiment and resentment, sympathy and antipathy. It corresponds to the endless impasse of courtly life, or salon life.

Thanks to the bloodfeud, Shakespeare can bring back into Romeo and Juliet these conjunctions of opposites that should not be there in the case of these two lovers, since their relationship is supposed to be perfect. Shakespeare knows that his public is unable to conceive passionate desire except in terms of oxymora, in other words in terms of extreme frustration. Thanks to the murder of Tybalt, thanks to the bloodfeud, Shakespeare can bring the oxymoron back into the picture under false pretenses, surreptitiously in other words. The death of Tybalt in a duel is not a criminal offense, since Romeo did everything he could to avoid it. It is a mere pretext, really, for the avalanche of oxymora that follows.

If Shakespeare had played the game of true love with complete honesty, he would have renounced the oxymoron altogether, at the risk of disappointing his contemporary audiences. The love of Romeo and Juliet should be free by definition from all violence since it is supposed to be authentically ‘true.’ In order to make it seem intense enough, Shakespeare had to buttress it with imagery more appropriate really to the various dirty tricks and infidelities that mimetic lovers play on one another, than to Romeo and Juliet. To make this violence seem legitimate, instead of rooting it where it really belongs, in the erotic relations themselves, Shakespeare systematically projected it onto the bloodfeud.

True love is supposed to be the most intense desire but, in reality, it is too perfect and peaceful a relationship to really satisfy a theater audience. It lacks the spice that only a little violence between the lovers can bring to their relationship. Shakespeare needs the mimetic disturbances that the oxymora suggest but he cannot give Juliet the usual reasons lovers have to be angry at each other without tarnishing their perfect image of true love, without destroying the myth he has decided to give us. In order to keep his ‘true love’ both sufficiently true and sufficiently intense, the only way is to resort to the bloodfeud underhandedly and this is what he did, systematically.

Thanks to the murder of Tybalt, Juliet can be furious at Romeo and sound insanely jealous without having any real cause of jealousy. Shakespeare does everything he has to do under the mask of the bloodfeud. He has Juliet unleash a veritable storm of oxymora without making her sound like the dark lady in the Sonnets.

The true love of Romeo and Juliet should exclude all the cruel mimetic tricks lovers play on one another but, if Shakespeare followed that rule to the letter, the result would be a sentimentally correct but insipid drama. In order to conjure up the feeling of intense passion that his public expects, without paying the price that this choice entails, he must resort to some contraband violence and this is precisely what the bloodfeud is there to provide.

Tybalt’s death really replaces the infidelity that Romeo should commit in order to justify the sentiments implied in Juliet’s oxymora. Thanks to the bloodfeud, Shakespeare can give the impression of intense jealousy without any unwanted consequences for the purity of the true love between Romeo and Juliet.

* * *

Juliet’s old nurse is the only other character on stage during Juliet’s great tirade, her only audience therefore. She is a very simple woman and a loyal member of the great Capulet clan. Quite understandably, she wishes that Juliet would forget her passion for Romeo. When she hears words of intense hatred for this young man she takes them at face value therefore, and she feels greatly relieved. Juliet seems to be talking like a loyal Capulet once again and the nurse welcomes the change. In order to encourage this evolution, she loudly exclaims: ‘Shame come to Romeo!’

This simple woman does not understand the peculiar logic of the oxymoron. She applies her commonsense to the great tirade and she misunderstands it. Seeing that words of hatred are added to Juliet’s usual praise of Romeo, she automatically assumes that the hatred is replacing the love. She falls into the trap that all people hysterically in love set for those around them. She assumes that Juliet means what she says and says what she means.

When Juliet hears Romeo insulted by the nurse, she flies into a rage:

Blister’d be thy tongue

For such a wish! he was not born to shame;

Upon his brow shame is asham’d to sit;

For ’tis a throne where honor may be crown’d

Sole monarch of the universal earth.

O, what a beast was I to chide at him! (iii.ii.90-95)

Juliet perfectly understands the mistake of the nurse and the proof is that she couches her reply in an unambiguously positive language just to make sure that the nurse, this time, will not misunderstand her. Something a little similar happens between Friar Laurence and Romeo. When the priest begs his pupil to renounce his unintelligible jargon, Romeo immediately explains very clearly why he left Rosaline for Juliet. The first girl did not respond to his advances whereas Juliet does.

Juliet’s anger against the nurse is characteristic of poets and artists when an uneducated public misunderstands their finer points. The nurse did not realize that Juliet’s great tirade signifies an increase, not a decrease in the temperature of her passion for Romeo.

Thanks to the bloodfeud, Shakespeare can have his cake and eat it too; he can blame the bloodfeud for a violence that, in reality plays a positive role in the language of the two lovers. It is this violence that makes the love of Romeo and Juliet sound like real passion.

Like all great styles with a long history behind them, the oxymoric style of Romeo and Juliet is less artificial than it seems. It is a realistic representation of how lovers relate to each other in a hypermimetic world, more realistic than our contemporary critics are willing to acknowledge. It is this realism of the oxymoron, as a matter of fact, that our anti-realistic critics do not see, because they do not see the mimetic nature of our desires and its consequences. The oxymoron may be regarded, I believe, as the literary forerunner of the deluge of violence and pornography that is submerging nowadays the last remnants of our culture.

Thanks to Tybalt’s death, Juliet sounds as painfully divided against herself as a passionate lover should be, while still appearing serenely united with Romeo. Far from being a hindrance, the bloodfeud is indispensable to the impression of intense passion conveyed by a relationship that, left to itself, could not generate the conflictual intensity required by the supposedly torrid love affair.

The Tybalt tirade is caricatural not because Shakespeare is unable to achieve a fuller integration of all the elements involved in his literary game but because, in that particular passage, I believe, his purpose is humorously didactic. He wants his more perceptive spectators to detect the game he is playing. This passage has a parodic quality that, inevitably, makes it less successful esthetically. In order to make his intention obvious, Shakespeare goes a little too far with his oxymora. He caricatures his own technique in order to make it comically obvious to the most sophisticated part of his audience. In other passages of the same play, the various elements in the total mixture are so smoothly integrated to one another that, when we hear the play performed, the harmony is such that we are not tempted to isolate and analyze the component parts. The fusion of the words that pertain to the love affair and those that pertain to the bloodfeud is convincing enough for the whole thing to sound like the splendid expression of a love of such depth and intensity that any further question would seem sacrilegious.

One example only…, four simple lines of Juliet once again, at the end of her first encounter with Romeo. She has just learned that the young man with whom, one minute before, she has fallen in love is sole heir to the Montague family. Here is how she reacts to the news:

My only love sprung from my only hate!

Too early seen unknown and known too late!

Prodigious birth of love it is to me

That I must love a loathed enemy. (i.v.138-141)

It would impossible for Juliet to be more straightforward and factual about the situation than she is here. It is really with a loathed enemy that she is in love. Just as in the case of Tybalt’s death, she cannot say anything about the situation in which she finds herself without reinventing the oxymoron.

These four lines are based on exactly the same principle as the great tirade I analyzed at length. Each statement looks like an oxymoron, sounds like an oxymoron, functions like an oxymoron and yet it must not be an oxymoron since the whole thing is not metaphoric at all; it is a purely factual statement, rooted in the family background of the heroine’s love at first sight. There is no allusion to some kind of internal battle that would rage in Juliet’s heart and yet, unquestionably, thanks to the ‘quasi-oxymora’ provided by the bloodfeud, these four lines sound more passionate than they would, had Shakespeare failed to incorporate the bloodfeud to the love affair.

If the word ‘love’ in the first line were not balanced with the word ‘hate,’ it would not sound right. The same is true of the last line. If the word ‘love’ were not followed first by ‘hate’ and then by ‘loathed enemy,’ Juliet would not sound as mysteriously transported as she does. The halo of archaic sacredness that seems to be there is rooted in the violence of the bloodfeud and, if we eliminate the bloodfeud, it disappears.

In spite of all the violence in Juliet’s language, her relationship with Romeo always looks as fresh as pure snow. And that is really the purpose of the whole rhetorical leger-de-main. The ‘oxymoric style’ of Romeo and Juliet is a mutual contamination of the love affair and the bloodfeud that produces some poetic miracles as well as some deliberately ludicrous effects.

Romeo is really Juliet’s loathed enemy not as a lover but as a member of the Montague family. And yet we feel that Juliet’s love is not only intensified but ‘deepened’ by the addition of ‘hate,’ in the same line. The interpenetration of the bloodfeud and the love affair is supposed to occur accidentally but, in reality, it is the doing of the playwright who is completely aware that he must import some violence into his play, in a fashion that, far from ruining the love for us, will seem to increase it.

Our four lines are more successful esthetically than Juliet’s great tirade because everything in them is factually as well as poetically justified and their ‘rhetorical’ dimension is less visible. In the great tirade, Shakespeare makes himself less skillful on purpose, like an expert who shows some students or friends how to proceed with some delicate manipulation by making himself deliberately less adroit than he normally is, easier therefore to imitate.

Recently, a French critic, Olivier Maurel has pointed out that the ‘star-crossed lovers’ are just as mimetic as the characters in the comedies. If Shakespeare really interpreted his own play in the habitual ‘romantic’ fashion, would he have shown, at the beginning, a Romeo already madly enamored with a Capulet girl but not the right one, a certain Rosaline whom he showers with the poetic clichés he will redirect at Juliet a little later? If Shakespeare intended Romeo and Juliet to be genuine paragons of true love, would he have represented them as little mimetic snobs? This is certainly what he does at the beginning of the play: after Romeo kisses Juliet for the first time, she exclaims: ‘you kiss by the book,’ not to blame his lack of spontaneity but to applaud his perfect obedience to fashion.

Lady Capulet is so aware of Juliet’s snobbish literariness that, to predispose her in favor of the man she and her husband want her to marry, this mother literally woos her daughter and recites to her an extremely contrived little poem about Count Paris, such as Juliet herself might write for Romeo.

Olivier Maurel is right: Romeo and Juliet resemble all classical figures of mimetic desire in Western literature, and Shakespeare artificially immunized their relationship from the disruptive consequences of that desire. He wants Romeo and Juliet to pass the test of ‘true love’ with flying colors and he sees to it that they do. All the make-believe that goes into the myth of Romeo and Juliet, including the artificiality of the double suicide, Shakespeare will explicitly mock, a little later, in the play within the play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the story of Pyramus and Thisbe which is, among other things, a hilarious satire of Romeo and Juliet.

If Shakespeare had not manipulated our mimetic desire a little, he could never have turned the story of Romeo and Juliet into the rather formidable romantic myth that it has become. There is something clandestine about the exploitation of violence in this play because Shakespeare insists at the same time that the violence of the bloodfeud is totally alien to Romeo and Juliet who, both in the prologue and in the conclusion, are defined as innocent victims of the bloodfeud and the bloodfeud itself is identified with the old generation.

In Romeo and Juliet, the hate inside the love plays a role equivalent to that of the pharmakon ritual in the dionysiac cult of ancient Greece. This violence is good and bad at the same time, violent and peaceful more or less simultaneously. It may be observed that Friar Laurence, the man who tries and fails to manipulate everybody and everything in the play, may well be a humorous symbol of the author and director that Shakespeare himself was. The first thing the friar does when he first appears on the stage is to give on the subject of the pharmaceutical pharmakon a fascinating speech that can be read as an allegory of Romeo and Juliet in its entirety. It suggests that Shakespeare was aware of the sacrificial compromises with the truth that the rhetorical technique of this play entailed and he warns his more knowledgeable readers about the ambivalent role of violence in it:

Oh! mickle is the powerful grace that lies

In plants, herbs, stones and their true qualities;

For naught so vile that on the earth doth live

But to the earth some special good doth give,

Nor aught so good that strain’d for that fair use

Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse:

Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied,

And vice sometime’s by action dignified.

Within the infant rind of this weak flower

Poison hath residence and medicine power;

For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part;

Being tasted, slays all senses with the heart.

Two such opposed kings encamp them still

In man as well as herbs, grace and rude will;

And where the worser is predominant,

Full soon the canker death eats up that plant. (ii.iii.15-30)

Voir aussi:

Why Romeo And Juliet Is Shakespeare’s Worst Play

Anna North

Jezebel

Feb 14, 2011

Okay, maybe it’s not worse than The Merry Wives of Windsor. But Romeo and Juliet is definitely Shakespeare’s worst famous play. Here’s why:

Love is boring in Shakespeare.

Actually, not all love — fatherly love is totally heart-wrenching in The Tempest, A Winter’s Tale, and Macbeth (« All my pretty ones? Did you say all? »). And not all Shakespeare — the sonnets show he could in fact make love sound hot and sad and interesting. But in almost all the plays, heterosexual romantic love is completely bland and boring. A great example of this is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, wherein the lovers are so interchangeable that they are, in fact, interchanged. But Romeo and Juliet is a big offender in this area as well — the two fall in love at first sight (which happens all the time in Shakespeare and is never convincing), and then banter sweetly about how much they like each other until they both die. In fact…

Love is especially boring in Romeo and Juliet.

Within a framework of general boringness, Shakespeare has two ways of making love interesting. The first is cross-dressing and/or mistaken identity. The sometimes-maligned Shakespeare in Love actually riffed on this trope with some hotness, leading me to believe that cross-dressing could be Gwyneth Paltrow’s route out of terminal boringness too. Twelfth Night is kind of sexy in this regard, and Titania’s scenes with Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream are at least funny.

Shakespeare’s second way of injecting a little fire into his otherwise lifeless lovers is to pit them against each other. This is why The Taming of the Shrew, despite its obvious misogynistic tendencies, is really fun to watch, and why Benedick and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing are one of Shakespeare’s most convincing couples (also why Benedick is pretty much the only role I can stand Kenneth Branagh in). Observe:

Beatrice: I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior

Benedick: nobody marks you.

Benedick: What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?

Beatrice: Is it possible disdain should die while she hath

such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick?

Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come

in her presence.

Benedick: Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I

am loved of all ladies, only you excepted: and I

would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard

heart; for, truly, I love none.

Beatrice: A dear happiness to women: they would else have

been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God

and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that: I

had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man

swear he loves me.

Compare that with:

Juliet: What satisfaction canst thou have to-night?

Romeo: The exchange of thy love’s faithful vow for mine.

Juliet: I gave thee mine before thou didst request it:

And yet I would it were to give again.

Romeo: Wouldst thou withdraw it? for what purpose, love?

Juliet: But to be frank, and give it thee again.

And yet I wish but for the thing I have:

My bounty is as boundless as the sea,

My love as deep; the more I give to thee,

The more I have, for both are infinite.

Without any bickering or pants-wearing to keep things exciting, every conversation Romeo and Juliet have is some variant on, « I love you! No, I love you more! » Which isn’t surprising — they’re teenagers, both (but especially Juliet) are completely innocent of the world, and they really serve only one function, which is to be pushed around by Shakespeare in his drama of families at war. Which brings us to…

Everything else about Romeo and Juliet is kind of boring, too.

Even in plays where the love kind of sucks, Shakespeare usually gives us something else to hold our interest. Sometimes he wisely pushes the love plot off to the margins, as in The Tempest. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, we have both Bottom and Puck — the latter of whom has some of Shakespeare’s best speeches ever — to entertain us while Demetriwhoever and Helenwhatsherface fuck around with one another. In Romeo and Juliet, the obvious real star is Mercutio (I am far from the first to say this), but he gives his famous dying speech (« A plague o’ both your houses! ») at the beginning of Act III and the play goes dourly downhill from there. There’s some more killing (sorry Tybalt) and then a ridiculous poison mixup that leads to the totally unnecessary deaths of both lovers before they’ve even had time to have their first argument (unless you count the one about whether it’s the fucking lark). It’s tragic, all right, but it’s really not that interesting.

Of course, not all of this is Shakespeare’s fault. It’s tough to write about romantic love, especially when you’re supposed to be all reassuring about it. And while Shakespeare’s later tragedies were pretty un-reassuring on nearly every aspect of human life, Romeo and Juliet still tries to make us feel good about the world — sure, some innocents died, but they also experienced a brief and perfect communion with each other. Oh, and now their families are friends. This artificial optimism permeates most contemporary pop-culture depictions of love, and is a major reason why romantic comedies usually blow. And it’s sad, because the flipside of the misconception that all love should be perfect is the truth that it’s actually hottest when it’s not.

Voir encore:

Roméo et Juliette

Elsa Pereira

Time out/Paris

mars 29 2013

Il y a fort à parier que les spectateurs de ‘Roméo et Juliette’ seront d’abord venus pour voir cette fameuse tour vagabonde, immense cylindre de bois à trois étages, réplique du Globe londonien : un théâtre itinérant qui pose ses valises pour plusieurs mois à Paris, à deux pas de l’Hôtel de ville.

Au programme jusqu’au 12 mai, les amours contrariées de Roméo et Juliette. En costumes et en épées, dans un écrin rustique, comme à l’époque. Idéal pour ceux que les adaptations contemporaines de la tragédie shakespearienne constipent. Tenue de Chat Botté pour les hommes, robes cintrées pour les dames, les costumes et les décors nous rappellent au bon vieux temps des blessures à la dague et des poisons mortels. Fluide et rythmée, la mise en scène plaît surtout pour sa simplicité et ses détails drolatiques. Un décor construit autour d’une fontaine/lit, quelques accessoires ici et là, et des chants pour seule musique : la scénographie, spartiate, met à l’honneur le talent des comédiens. Tous parfaits dans leur rôle. Juliette (Anne-Solenne Hatte) a la candeur de ses 14 ans, Roméo (Baptiste Belleudy, également metteur en scène) la fougue de l’amoureux transi, Mercutio la verve polissonne bien sentie. Une distribution parfaite, en somme. Il ne nous reste plus qu’à vous conseiller vivement de vivre l’expérience shakespearienne dans ce théâtre qui craque de tous les côtés. Car pour tout dire, on croirait presque que le cœur mourant de Tybalt bat sur ces lattes en bois.

Voir également:

Un Shakespeare vagabond

Bérénice Magistretti

Le Parisien

28 mars 2013

Imaginez une tour sur trois étages, essentiellement construite en bois, qui accueille une scène ainsi qu’une ribambelle de bancs pour des spectateurs avides de tragi-comédies. Le tout fait drôlement écho au théâtre élisabéthain du Globe à Londres, et pourtant, cette tour se trouve en plein Marais! Une tour nomade, créée en Suisse, qui fait lieu de décor pour la pièce incontournable de William Shakespeare et ô combien jouée depuis sa création en 1597, Roméo & Juliette.

Mise en scène par Baptiste Belleudy, fondateur de la troupe Les Mille Chandelles, ce jeune comédien redonne de la vigueur et du punch à cette pièce sur les amours impossibles entre deux héritiers de fratries ennemies. Il est soutenu par un groupe de comédiens issus, pour la plupart, du Cours d’Art Dramatique de Jean-Laurent Cochet. « Au sein de la Compagnie Les Mille Chandelles, les comédiens sont tous animés d’une même passion: rendre aux textes classiques un parfum de tréteaux et une vie qu’on leur a trop souvent ôtée» a déclaré le metteur en scène. Ce qui est plutôt réussi.

Une relecture privilégiant l’authenticité

Même si chaque comédien apporte sa touche personnelle à l’ensemble de la pièce, certains sont plus remarquables que d’autres. Le jeune Paul Gorostidi interprète le personnage torturé de Mercutio avec un naturel déconcertant. Sa loquacité ainsi que sa gestuelle rajoutent de la crédibilité à des scènes parfois trop scolaires. Sylvy Ferrus, qui joue la nourrice de Juliette, se métamorphose afin de prendre de l’âge, et du poids ! Il y a une authenticité dans son jeu qui la place bien au-dessus de ses camarades, s’emparant du personnage avec une aisance inspirée. Quant aux personnages de Roméo et Juliette, joués par Baptiste Belleudy et Anne-Solenne Hatte, ils sont jeunes, beaux et amoureux, que leur demander de plus ?

En somme, une pièce très réussie qui rend la tragédie divertissante grâce à ce lieu haut en couleur. Le seul hic ? La pièce dure 3 heures et demie… Armez-vous donc de patience !

Roméo & Juliette à La Tour Vagabonde à Cité Internationale des Arts 18 rue de l’Hôtel de Ville, Paris 4ème Du mardi au samedi à 20h, les samedi et dimanche à 15h (jusqu’en juin)

Voir enfin:

Paris : un théâtre Shakespeare s’installe dans le IVe

Armelle Heliot

Le Figaro

20/03/2013

Sur le modèle du Globe Theater londonien, un bâtiment en bois surplombe le pont Marie. À l’affiche, « Roméo et Juliette ».

Des duels dans les airs, des cavalcades dans les escaliers, une scène du balcon bouleversante de vérité, les lanternes du bal, des bagarres époustouflantes, un tombeau profond comme la nuit, une fontaine qui cache une couche, de beaux costumes, des accessoires très inventifs, des effets de lumière superbes, des chants pour toute musique, une troupe qui joue avec énergie, franchise, sensibilité le chef-d’œuvre de Shakespeare, Roméo et Juliette, dans la traduction de Jean Sarment. On rit, on tremble, on pleure! On est tout près des comédiens qui se servent des trois niveaux du théâtre et jouent sans aucune sonorisation et qui savent bouger, danser, chanter.

Mais la vedette du spectacle, c’est le théâtre lui-même. Ce merveilleux théâtre de bois planté au cœur de Paris, sur le terrain de la Cité des arts, quai de l’Hôtel-de-Ville, à deux pas de la Seine, face à l’île Saint-Louis.

Au premier regard, cette construction de bois, toute ronde (12 mètres de diamètre et 10,80 m de haut), avec ses escaliers d’accès, ses passerelles, ressemble aux gravures d’autrefois représentant le fameux Globe de Shakespeare, au bord de la Tamise. Mais la Tour vagabonde, elle, a un toit. À l’intérieur, des galeries, un parterre avec des chaises et deux étages de banquettes. À droite, une autre petite construction, toute ronde et de bois, elle aussi. Elle abrite La Pinte à fondue, une mini-auberge où l’on déguste de la raclette… Car c’est de Suisse que viennent ces structures démontables. À gauche du bâtiment principal, de longues remorques abritent les loges, les ateliers de costumes, les machines à laver, tout ce qui est indispensable à une troupe en plein travail.

Un conte de fées

Deux histoires très belles se croisent ici. Celle de «La Tour vagabonde», imaginée il y a une quinzaine d’années par des artistes suisses originaux à la demande d’une compagnie qui l’abandonna faute de projets. Ses concepteurs la rachetèrent pour lui redonner vie. Aujourd’hui, deux d’entre eux sont embarqués dans la troupe et jouent, avec la compagnie Les Milles Chandelles, dans Roméo et Juliette mis en scène par Baptiste ­Belleudy, chef de troupe et Roméo dans le spectacle avec une délicieuse Juliette, Anne-Solenne Hatte.

Louis Yerly, l’Apothicaire, et Jean-Luc Giller, Montaigu, et l’indissociable Marie-Cécile Kolly ont accueilli la troupe l’été dernier, à Fribourg, où le théâtre et son auberge étaient installés dans «le Jardin aux Betteraves».

Le secret, ici, c’est l’amour du théâtre. Louis Yerly était agriculteur, passionné par l’image. Bientôt il travaille avec Benno Besson et Jean-Marc Stehlé, avec les Dromesko. Jean-Luc Giller était électronicien et c’est en rencontrant Marie-Cécile Koly qu’il est entré dans le monde du théâtre. Leur Tour vagabonde est un bijou très beau et performant qui peut accueillir 250 spectateurs.

Les négociations ont été longues pour obtenir l’autorisation de s’installer à côté de ce «Jardin des sons» que projette depuis 2007 la ville de Paris. En même temps qu’elle joue Roméo et Juliette, la troupe, en partie issue des cours de Jean-Laurent ­Cochet, répète un autre Shakespeare, Comme il vous plaira (et accueille certains jours le public). À l’affiche également, un spectacle pour les enfants, Bla di bla di bla de Damien Bonnel. Bref, plusieurs raisons de découvrir et le lieu et ses chaleureux animateurs qui sont là jusqu’au 20 juin!

La Tour vagabonde, Cité internationale des arts, 18, quai de l’Hôtel-de-Ville (IVe). À 20 heures en semaine, en ­matinée le samedi et le dimanche, à 15 heures. 17€ pour tous, jusqu’à ­dimanche 24, puis 34€ (20 tarif réduit). http://www.lesmillechandelles.com


Pâque/1980e: Alors ils le jetèrent dans la mer (No sign but the sign of Jonas)

29 mars, 2013
Jonah Rembrandt_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Lake_of_Galilee
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Puis ils prirent Jonas, et le jetèrent dans la mer. Et la fureur de la mer s’apaisa. Jonas 1: 15
Il ne lui sera donné d’autre miracle que celui du prophète Jonas. Jésus (Matthieu 12: 39)
C’est pourquoi la sagesse de Dieu a dit: Je leur enverrai des prophètes et des apôtres; ils tueront les uns et persécuteront les autres … depuis la création du monde, depuis le sang d’Abel jusqu’au sang de Zacharie, tué entre l’autel et le temple. Jésus (Luc 11: 49-51)
Il est dans votre intérêt qu’un seul homme meure pour le peuple, et que la nation entière ne périsse pas. Caïphe (Jean 11: 50)
Alors tous les disciples l’abandonnèrent, et prirent la fuite. Matthieu (26: 56)
Et il s’éleva sur la mer une grande tempête. Le navire menaçait de faire naufrage. Les mariniers eurent peur … Jonas descendit au fond du navire … et s’endormit profondément. Le pilote s’approcha de lui, et lui dit: Pourquoi dors-tu? Lève-toi, invoque ton Dieu … et nous ne périrons pas. Et … Ils tirèrent au sort et le sort tomba sur Jonas. Alors … ils prirent Jonas, et le jetèrent dans la mer. Et la fureur de la mer s’apaisa. Ces hommes furent saisis d’une grande crainte de l’Éternel … Jonas 1: 4-16
Il s’éleva un grand tourbillon, et les flots se jetaient dans la barque, au point qu’elle se remplissait déjà. Et lui, il dormait à la poupe sur le coussin. Ils le réveillèrent, et lui dirent: Maître, ne t’inquiètes-tu pas de ce que nous périssons? S’étant réveillé, il menaça le vent, et dit à la mer: Silence! tais-toi! Et le vent cessa, et il y eut un grand calme. Puis il leur dit: Pourquoi avez-vous ainsi peur? Comment n’avez-vous point de foi? Ils furent saisis d’une grande frayeur … Marc (4: 36-41)
Pendant sept jours, il ne se trouvera point de levain dans vos maisons … Moïse appela tous les anciens d’Israël, et leur dit: Allez prendre du bétail pour vos familles, et immolez la Pâque. Vous prendrez ensuite un bouquet d’hysope, vous le tremperez dans le sang qui sera dans le bassin, et vous toucherez le linteau et les deux poteaux de la porte avec le sang qui sera dans le bassin … Quand l’Éternel passera pour frapper l’Égypte, et verra le sang sur le linteau et sur les deux poteaux, l’Éternel passera par-dessus la porte, et il ne permettra pas au destructeur d’entrer dans vos maisons pour frapper. Vous observerez cela comme une loi pour vous et pour vos enfants à perpétuité. Exode 12: 19-24
Voici l’Agneau de Dieu, qui ôte le péché du monde. Jean le baptiste (Jean 1: 29)
Faites disparaître le vieux levain, afin que vous soyez une pâte nouvelle, puisque vous êtes sans levain, car Christ, notre Pâque, a été immolé. Paul (I Corinthiens 5: 7)
Jésus est constamment rapproché , et se rapproche lui-même, de tous les boucs émissaires de l‘Ancien Testament, de tous les prophètes assassinés ou persécutés par leurs communautés, Abel, Joseph, Moïse, les Serviteur de Yaveh, etc. (…) Ceux qui réclament un signe sans équivoque devront se contenter du « signe de Jonas ». Qu’en est-il du signe de Jonas ? La référence à la baleine, dans le texte de Matthieu n’est pas très éclairante; et il faut lui préférer le silence de Luc, avec tous les égégètes. Mais rien ne nous empêche, sur ce point, d’essayer de mieux répondre que Matthieu à la question laissée probablement sans réponse par Jésus lui-même. Et dès les premières lignes nous sommes renseignés. Au cours d’une tempête, le sort désigne en Jonas la victime que les marins jettent par-dessus bord pour sauver leur navire en détresse. Le signe de Jonas désigne la victime collective, une fois de plus.  René Girard

En ces jours où sous haute protection policière nos amis juifs commémorent, présenté dans leurs textes sacrés comme la délivrance non seulement du goulag égyptien mais, via le sang de l’agneau pascal répandu sur leurs portes, du massacre des premiers-nés du pays attribué à l’Eternel lui-même, le premier d’une longue série d’épisodes d’épuration ethnique dont ils furent victimes …

Pendant que nous chrétiens célébrons la délivrance du péché du  monde via l’ultime sacrifice de « l’Agneau de Dieu » annoncé par le Baptiste …

Comment ne pas voir cette étrange ressemblance soulignée par Jésus lui-même (et beaucoup plus récemment par quelqu’un comme René Girard) …

Entre la tentative de noyade forcée de Jonas par les marins de son bateau menacé par la tempête …

Et cet épisode où, désemparés par la tempête menaçant leur barque et leurs vies quelque 700 ans plus tard, les disciples viennent réveiller le nouveau Jonas

Que, pour apaiser la fureur de leur propre peuple, ils abandonneront eux aussi quelques semaines plus tard aux flots de Golgotha ?


Espionnage: Pourquoi Jonathan Pollard n’est pas près d’être libéré (Has money-hungry Pollard been paying for the Mossad’s overgreediness?)

28 mars, 2013
https://i0.wp.com/www.veteranstoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/14-640x426.jpgPollard lui-même n’avait aucune idée de la valeur de ce qu’il transmettait. Officiel de la CIA
Benjamin Blumberg, ancien responsable du contre-espionnage et de la sécurité au ministère de la Défense (…) était en train de monter une agence secrète, chargée de se procurer l’équipement et les matériels indispensables au programme israélien, mais en principe impossibles à acquérir sur le marché légal. Cette agence, installée dans un bâtiment du ministère de la Défense, serait si secrète que même le Mossad ne serait pas informé de son activité. Au début des années 1970, elle serait baptisée “Bureau de liaison scientifique” ou Lakam, et surnommée par certains initiés le “Mossad II”. Elle devait acquérir les équipements nécessaires au programme nucléaire par tous les moyens, y compris la tromperie, le vol et la force. En effet, à cette époque la relation avec la France était en train de se refroidir et il était urgent de trouver d’autres canaux d’approvisionnement. Système de guidage de missiles, centrifugeuses, carburant pour fusées, équipement de vision nocturne, lasers… la liste des demandes allait bientôt ressembler à un inventaire à la Prévert et excéder largement les besoins du programme nucléaire pour couvrir tous les secteurs de la défense israélienne au fur et à mesure que les succès s’accumuleraient et que la notoriété du Lakam déborderait certains cercles étroits. Une commission secrète de scientifiques fut formée pour définir les besoins prioritaires. Elle se réunissait chaque semaine pour établir les listes d’objectifs, précisant où on pouvait se les procurer. Qui s’en chargeait ensuite et par quels moyens? Les membres n’avaient pas besoin de le savoir. Pendant les années 1970, le Lakam fut si discret qu’aucune des agences de renseignement occidentales ne soupçonna son existence, alors même qu’il agissait sur la plupart de leurs territoires. Dans son étude sur le système du renseignement israélien saisie par les Iraniens lors de la prise d’otages de l’ambassade des Etats-Unis à Téhéran en 1979, la CIA identifie correctement la recherche technologique dans les pays amis comme une des priorités israéliennes. Mais elle ne soupçonne pas l’existence d’une agence distincte chargée de cette mission. De ce fait, les soupçons et la surveillance du contre-espionnage restèrent longtemps focalisés sur les équipes du Mossad, laissant le champ libre aux francs-tireurs du Lakam. D’autant plus francs-tireurs que certains, à l’image d’Arnon Milchan, avaient sur le territoire américain une véritable et légitime activité économique. (…) Après la guerre de Kippour de 1973, qui avait montré pour la première fois l’armée d’Israël en difficulté, la priorité du ministère de la Défense fut à la modernisation de ses troupes. Il devenait crucial qu’elles disposent toujours des technologies les plus en pointe pour ne pas se retrouver acculées lors de la prochaine guerre. De leur côté, les Etats-Unis accordaient désormais à Israël des aides toujours plus considérables… à dépenser auprès de l’industrie américaine. Ce fut une période faste pour les entreprises d’Arnon Milchan et pour ses clients, en particulier Raytheon. C’est lors d’une visite privée dans les installations nucléaires de Dimona que Milchan entendit pour la première fois parler du krytron. Les krytrons sont utilisés dans les photocopieuses et nombre d’appareils médicaux. Ils ont aussi un usage comme détonateur de bombe nucléaire, ce qui est moins connu. Une seule société les fabriquait aux Etats-Unis à l’époque et leur exportation était sérieusement réglementée. En 1975, on demanda à Smyth d’en acheter quatre cents et, comme c’était la règle, il remplit la licence d’exportation de munitions requise pour ce type de matériel, qui fut cette fois refusée. En 1976, un nouvel essai fut à nouveau infructueux. Cette fois, la CIA commença à se poser des questions sur les activités de Milco. Pendant ce temps, (…) l’homme d’affaires fut informé par son mentor Peres du rapprochement en cours entre Israël et l’Afrique du Sud. Ce pays africain allait devenir le premier marché israélien pour l’armement. Cette fois encore, Milchan allait servir d’agent commercial à cette part de l’industrie israélienne, alors en plein essor. On demanda aussi à Milchan de seconder l’effort de réhabilitation médiatique tenté par le gouvernement sud-africain, qui consistait à racheter les journaux et magazines susceptibles de faire évoluer l’opinion publique internationale. Après quelques séjours en Afrique du Sud, Milchan, de plus en plus mal à l’aise avec les réalités du régime, laissa vite tomber cette activité. Pendant cette époque, il développa aussi des relations commerciales avec Taïwan, qui souffrait alors du rapprochement diplomatique entre la Chine continentale et les Etats-Unis. L’oncle Sam ne pouvait plus décemment vendre d’armes au frère ennemi taïwanais de ses nouveaux amis chinois, mais rien n’empêchait qu’Israël se substitue à lui comme partenaire commercial. C’est ainsi que jusqu’à 20 % du chiffre d’affaires de Milco fut réalisé à la fin des années 1970 avec Taïwan. Dans les années 1980, le rapprochement entre la Chine et Israël conduirait l’Etat hébreu à réduire à son tour ses exportations vers Taïwan, mais entretemps le groupe Milchan aurait bénéficié de plusieurs beaux marchés.
(…) En 1981, le Lakam changea de tête pour la première fois, sur décision du nouveau ministre de la Défense, Ariel Sharon, qui trouvait Blumberg trop proche de Peres à son goût pour un poste aussi sensible. Il le remplaça par Rafi Eitan, un ami et ancien du Mossad alors âgé de 55 ans. Eitan était déjà à l’époque une légende du renseignement israélien. Ancien du Shin Bet et du Mossad, il avait commandé l’équipe qui captura Eichmann à Buenos Aires en 1960. A la fin des années 1960, il faisait partie de l’équipe qui travailla sur l’affaire NUMEC, permettant le rapatriement d’une grosse quantité d’uranium enrichi. Ce qui montre au passage que le Lakam n’était pas sans contact avec le Mossad, comme on l’a dit par la suite. Dans les années 1970, Eitan devint directeur adjoint des opérations du Mossad. C’était un petit homme myope et presque sourd d’une oreille, mais il ne fallait pas se fier à son allure. John Le Carré prit Eitan comme modèle pour son personnage de Marty Kurtz dans La Petite Fille au tambour, qui traque sans relâche les terroristes palestiniens. En 1976, Eitan quitta le Mossad pour travailler auprès de son ami Ariel Sharon, devenu conseiller de Rabin pour les affaires de sécurité. Puis il partit dans le privé, où il s’ennuya ferme. C’est pourquoi il accepta bien volontiers en 1978 de devenir conseiller antiterrorisme du Premier ministre Begin, à l’instigation de son mentor Sharon. Et il sauta en 1981 sur l’opportunité de diriger le Lakam. Il avait conservé avec lui un fichier de sources et de sayanim du Mossad en territoire américain, pensant que certains noms pourraient lui être utiles. Parmi eux, un certain Jonathan Pollard, analyste du renseignement naval, affecté au centre antiterroriste de Suitland dans le Maryland. Pollard était un Juif militant, choqué de voir que le renseignement américain ne partageait pas toutes ses informations sur le Moyen-Orient avec le Mossad. Il avait commencé à fournir des copies de rapports d’une grande valeur. Après plusieurs mois de production, le Mossad avait décidé de laisser cette source “en jachère” pour ne pas l’exposer inutilement. Eitan saisit l’occasion de la réactiver, dans un premier temps pour sa plus grande satisfaction, sans savoir que Pollard allait le mener à perdre son poste quelques années plus tard.
 Alliance
L’espionnage sur les alliés est normal, et c’est une voie à double sens. Avant de trop monter sur leurs grands chevaux, les Américains devraient se rendre compte que Washington n’est pas innocent. De Reagan à Obama, le gouvernement américain a effectué un travail massif d’espionnage contre Israël. Exemples: Itamar Rabinovich, ambassadeur d’Israël à Washington, qui a révélé l’affaire des écoutes téléphoniques aux États-Unis. Yosef Amit, ancien major du renseignement militaire israélien, a espionné pour le compte de la CIA pendant plusieurs années, en se concentrant sur les mouvements de troupes et les politiques envers le Liban et les Palestiniens, jusqu’à son arrestation en 1986. Un sous-marin mystérieux dans les eaux territoriales israéliennes à 17kms 50 de Haïfa, en novembre 2004, qui a fui lorsqu’il a été découvert, s’est avéré être américain, ce qui ravive le souvenir de la mission secrète du navire USS Liberty en juin 1967. Yossi Melman, un journaliste israélien spécialisé dans le renseignement, a trouvé que les attachés militaires américains à Tel-Aviv avaient recueilli des informations secrètes; des responsables israéliens, révèle-t-il, pensent que les services américains de renseignement ont été l’écoute des conversations entre le personnel clé en Israël et celui dans les missions étrangères. L’espionnage américain, conclut-il, a exposé des «secrets de la politique la plus cachée d’Israël.» Une histoire officielle des services de renseignements d’Israël, publiée en 2008 a révélé (tel que rapporté par Reuters) que les agences d’espionnage américaines utilisaient l’ambassade à Tel-Aviv pour se livrer à l’espionnage électronique et former un personnel d’ambassade pour «la collecte méthodique de renseignements». Daniel Pipes
Pollard’s disclosures were alarming to U.S. officials for several reasons, some of which were noted in their official declarations (Document 7a, Document 10) – some of which were direct responses (Document 9) to claims and analysis made by Pollard in his sentencing memorandums (Document 6, Document 8b). One, despite the fact that both the U.S. and Israeli considered each other legitimate intelligence targets, was Israel’s willingness to run a human penetration operation directed at the U.S. government. Another, was the damage to the intelligence sharing arrangement with Israel since its acquisition of material from Pollard weakened the U.S. position vis-a-vis intelligence exchanges with Israel. In addition, there was no guarantee that such documents, revealing both sources and methods as well as assessments, would not find their way to the Soviet Union via a Soviet penetration of the Israeli intelligence or defense community as had happened with a number of other allies. Further, since Israel was a target of U.S. intelligence collection particularly technical collection – operations, the documents could be used by Israeli counterintelligence and security organizations to help Israel neutralize or degrade U.S. collection operations. (…) Among the specific items of note in the newly released assessment are an account of Pollard’s claim (p. I-18) upon his late arrival for an interview, that he spent the weekend rescuing his wife from the Irish Republican Army after they had kidnaped her. Pollard’s connection with a naval intelligence unit, Task Force-168, responsible for human intelligence activities is also among the topics discussed in the damage assessment. The committee’s report also provides new insight to exactly what information the Israelis wanted and why as well as what information they did not want (pp. 38-46), including U.S. capabilities or plans. With regard to Syria, for example, Pollard was requested to provide documents concerning a suspected research and development facility, an electronics intelligence (ELINT) system, remotely piloted vehicles, a national command, control, and communications center in Damascus, Syrian military units with attached Soviet advisors, and medical intelligence on Syrian president Hafiz al-Assad. A common denominator for Israeli requests concerning Syria and other countries was the predominant focus on military intelligence relevant to Israeli security. The study also describes (on p. 38) an incident involving LAKAM chief Rafi Eitan, in which he requested documents or information from Pollard on a variety of topics. According to Pollard, his case officer, standing behind Pollard, shook his head « no » in response to many of Eitan’s requests – including those for information on the PLO’s Force 17, CIA psychological studies or other intelligence containing ‘dirt’ on senior Israeli officials, as well as information identifying the « rats » in Israel (by which he apparently meant Israelis who provided information to the United States). The study also reports (p. 60) on Israeli use of the NSA’s RASIN (Radio Signal Notation) manual, which was requested on at least two occasions, in assisting its monitoring of a communications link between the Soviet General Staff and the Soviet military assistance group in Damascus. Jeffrey T. Richelson
That a man who claimed his crime was committed to enhance the Jewish state’s security would have his freedom bought with concessions on territory or settlements that undermine the country’s ability to defend itself must be considered a bitter irony. Jonathan Tobin
Before Pollard’s plea bargain, the government had been preparing a multi-count criminal indictment that included-along with espionage, drug, and tax-fraud charges — allegations that before his arrest Pollard had used classified documents in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the governments of South Africa, Argentina, and Taiwan to participate in an arms deal for anti-Communist Afghan rebels who were then being covertly supported by the Reagan Administration. F.B.I. investigators later determined that in the fall of 1985 Pollard had also consulted with three Pakistanis and an Iranian in his efforts to broker arms. (The foreigners were quietly deported within several months of his arrest.) The NYT
What’s inequitable about Pollard’s sentence isn’t that his is too heavy. It’s that the sentences of spies such as Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen and Robert Kim have been too light. Particularly in the age of digital downloads, WikiLeaks and self-appointed transparency crusaders, the U.S. needs to make harsh examples of those who betray its secrets. That goes especially for those who spy on behalf of friendly countries or, as Bradley Manning imagined, in the ostensible interests of humanity at large. (…) Nations are rightly judged by their choice of heroes. Israel has plenty of worthy heroes, yet today there’s a square in Jerusalem named for Pollard. Bret Stephens
Pollard can be defended as a proud hero who gave Israel intelligence vital to its security at a time when U.S. policy was insufficiently friendly. Or he can be defended as a penitent fool who has now paid a heavy price for his criminal delusions of grandeur. If it’s the former, the best way to vindicate his heroism is to accept the price that must be paid for it. If it’s the latter, the best his defenders could do is acknowledge the damage he and his Israeli handlers did—not only to U.S. intelligence, but to Israel’s reputation as an ally and to the honor of the American-Jewish community as a whole. That so many of Pollard’s defenders have yet to do so is probably the single greatest impediment to his release. Nor can it help Pollard’s case that he would likely get a hero’s welcome should he ever be released to Israel. A nation that cannot recognize that wantonly committing espionage against its closest ally is an enduring source of shame, not pride, is one that has some serious soul-searching to do. Israel’s leaders get this: Pleas for Pollard’s release by President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amount to an acknowledgment that he is the one paying the price for the Israeli government’s gross misjudgment. But the people who really need to get it are the ones writing me infuriated letters and disinviting me from speeches. If they cannot admit that what Pollard did was damaging and despicable, they are lending a patina of credibility to some of the worst anti-Semitic canards. It’s one thing for a rogue agent to betray U.S. secrets; it’s another for a legion of defenders to rise up to justify his espionage. The case for Israel in the U.S. has always rested on the fact that the values and interests of the two countries are compatible even if they are not identical. But that is true only so long as Israel and its advocates labor to maintain that compatibility. It is harder to think of a more efficient way to undo those labors than to defend the likes of Jonathan Pollard, the man who betrayed both his country and his people. Bret Stephens
Pollard, these officials told me, had done far more damage to American national security than was ever made known to the public; for example, he betrayed elements of four major American intelligence systems (…) Officials are loath to talk publicly about it, but spying on allies is a fact of life: the United States invests billions annually to monitor the communications of its friends. Many American embassies around the world contain a clandestine intercept facility that targets diplomatic communications. The goal is not only to know the military and diplomatic plans of our friends but also to learn what intelligence they may be receiving and with whom they share information. « If a friendly state has friends that we don’t see as friends, » one senior official explained, sensitive intelligence that it should not possess — such as that supplied by Pollard — « can spread to others. » Many officials said they were convinced that information Pollard sold to the Israelis had ultimately wound up in the hands of the Soviet Union.. (…) (…) The documents that Pollard turned over to Israel were not focused exclusively on the product of American intelligence — its analytical reports and estimates. They also revealed how America was able to learn what it did — a most sensitive area of intelligence defined as « sources and methods. » Pollard gave the Israelis vast amounts of data dealing with specific American intelligence systems and how they worked. For example, he betrayed details of an exotic capability that American satellites have of taking off-axis photographs from high in space. While orbiting the earth in one direction, the satellites could photograph areas that were seemingly far out of range. Israeli nuclear-missile sites and the like, which would normally be shielded from American satellites, would thus be left exposed, and could be photographed. « We monitor the Israelis, » one intelligence expert told me, « and there’s no doubt the Israelis want to prevent us from being able to surveil their country. » The data passed along by Pollard included detailed information on the various platforms — in the air, on land, and at sea — used by military components of the National Security Agency to intercept Israeli military, commercial, and diplomatic communications. At the time of Pollard’s spying, select groups of American sailors and soldiers trained in Hebrew were stationed at an N.S.A. listening post near Harrogate, England, and at a specially constructed facility inside the American Embassy in Tel Aviv, where they intercepted and translated Israeli signals. Other interceptions came from an unmanned N.S.A. listening post in Cyprus. Pollard’s handing over of the data had a clear impact, the expert told me, for « we could see the whole process » — of intelligence collection — « slowing down. » It also hindered the United States’ ability to recruit foreign agents. Another senior official commented, with bitterness, « The level of penetration would convince any self-respecting human source to look for other kinds of work. » A number of officials strongly suspect that the Israelis repackaged much of Pollard’s material and provided it to the Soviet Union in exchange for continued Soviet permission for Jews to emigrate to Israel. Other officials go further, and say there was reason to believe that secret information was exchanged for Jews working in highly sensitive positions in the Soviet Union. A significant percentage of Pollard’s documents, including some that described the techniques the American Navy used to track Soviet submarines around the world, was of practical importance only to the Soviet Union. One longtime C.I.A. officer who worked as a station chief in the Middle East said he understood that « certain elements in the Israeli military had used it » — Pollard’s material — « to trade for people they wanted to get out, » including Jewish scientists working in missile technology and on nuclear issues. Pollard’s spying came at a time when the Israeli government was publicly committed to the free flow of Jewish emigres from the Soviet Union. The officials stressed the fact that they had no hard evidence — no « smoking gun, » in the form of a document from an Israeli or a Soviet archive — to demonstrate the link between Pollard, Israel, and the Soviet Union, but they also said that the documents that Pollard had been directed by his Israeli handlers to betray led them to no other conclusion. High-level suspicions about Israeli-Soviet collusion were expressed as early as December, 1985, a month after Pollard’s arrest, when William J. Casey, the late C.I.A. director, who was known for his close ties to the Israeli leadership, stunned one of his station chiefs by suddenly complaining about the Israelis breaking the « ground rules. » The issue arose when Casey urged increased monitoring of the Israelis during an otherwise routine visit, I was told by the station chief, who is now retired. « He asked if I knew anything about the Pollard case, » the station chief recalled, and he said that Casey had added, « For your information, the Israelis used Pollard to obtain our attack plan against the U.S.S.R. all of it. The coordinates, the firing locations, the sequences. And for guess who? The Soviets. » (boldface mine – Ronin)Casey had then explained that the Israelis had traded the Pollard data for Soviet emigres. « How’s that for cheating? » he had asked. (…) There was little doubt, I learned from an official who was directly involved, that Soviet intelligence had access to the most secret information in Israel. « The question, » the official said, « was whether we could prove it was Pollard’s material that went over the aqueduct. We couldn’t get there, so we suggested » in the Weinberger affidavit that the possibility existed. Caution was necessary, the official added, for « fear that the other side would say that ‘these people are seeing spies under the bed.’  » The Justice Department further informed Judge Robinson, in a publicly filed memorandum, that « numerous » analyses of Soviet missile systems had been sold by Pollard to Israel, and that those documents included « information from human sources whose identity could be inferred by a reasonably competent intelligence analyst. Moreover, the identity of the authors of these classified publications » was clearly marked. A retired Navy admiral who was directly involved in the Pollard investigation told me, « There is no question that the Russians got a lot of the Pollard stuff. The only question is how did it get there? » The admiral, like Robert Gates, had an alternative explanation. He pointed out that Israel would always play a special role in American national security affairs. « We give them truckloads of stuff in the normal course of our official relations, » the admiral said. « And they use it very effectively. They do things worth doing, and they will go places where we will not go, and do what we do not dare to do. » Nevertheless, he said, it was understood that the Soviet intelligence services had long since penetrated Israel. (One important Soviet spy, Shabtai Kalmanovitch, whose job at one point was to ease the resettlement of Russian emigrants in Israel, was arrested in 1987.) It was reasonably assumed in the aftermath of Pollard, the admiral added, that Soviet spies inside Israel had been used to funnel some of the Pollard material to Moscow. (…) In fact, it is widely believed that Pollard was not the only one in the American government spying for Israel. During his year and a half of spying, his Israeli handlers requested specific documents, which were identified only by top-secret control numbers. After much internal assessment, the government’s intelligence experts concluded that it was « highly unlikely, » in the words of a Justice Department official, that any of the other American spies of the era would have had access to the specific control numbers. « There is only one conclusion, » the expert told me. The Israelis « got the numbers from somebody else in the U.S. government. » THE men and women of the National Security Agency live in a world of chaotic bleeps, buzzes, and whistles, and talk to each other about frequencies, spectrums, modulation, and bandwidth — the stuff of Tom Clancy novels. They often deal with signals intelligence, or SIGINT, and their world is kept in order by an in-house manual known as the RASIN an acronym for radio-signal notations. The manual, which is classified « top-secret Umbra, » fills ten volumes, is constantly updated, and lists the physical parameters of every known signal. Pollard took it all. « It’s the Bible, » one former communications-intelligence officer told me. « It tells how we collect signals anywhere in the world. » The site, frequency, and significant features of Israeli communications — those that were known and targeted by the N.S.A. — were in the RASIN; so were all the known communications links used by the Soviet Union. The loss of the RASIN was especially embarrassing to the Navy, I was told by the retired admiral, because the copy that Pollard photocopied belonged to the Office of Naval Intelligence. « He went into our library, found we had an out-of-date version, requested a new one, and passed it on, » the officer said. « I was surprised we even had it. » (…) « It is a complete catalogue of what the United States was listening to, or could listen to — information referred to in the N.S.A. as ‘parametric data.’ It tells you everything you want to know about a particular signal — when it was first detected and where, whom it was first used by, what kind of entity, frequency, wavelength, or band length it has. When you’ve copied a signal and don’t know what it is, the RASIN manual gives you a description. » A senior intelligence official who consults regularly with the N.S.A. on technical matters subsequently told me that another issue involved geometry. (…) If, as many in the American intelligence community suspected, the Soviet communications experts had been able to learn which of their signals were being monitored, and where, they could relocate the signal and force the N.S.A. to invest man-hours and money to try to recapture it. Or, more likely, the Soviets could continue to communicate in a normal fashion but relay false and misleading information. Pollard’s betrayal of the RASIN put the N.S.A. in the position of having to question or reevaluate all of its intelligence collecting. « We aren’t perfect, » the career intelligence officer explained to me. « We’ve got holes in our coverage, and this » — the loss of the RASIN — tells where the biases and the weaknesses are. It’s how we get the job done, and how we will get the job done. » « What a wonderful insight into how we think, and exactly how we’re exploiting Soviet communications! » the retired admiral exclaimed. « It’s a how-to-do-it book — the fireside cookbook of cryptology. Not only the analyses but the facts of how we derived our analyses. Whatever recipe you want. » (…) The career intelligence officer who helped to assess the Pollard damage has come to view Pollard as a serial spy, the Ted Bundy of the intelligence world. « Pollard gave them every message for a whole year, » the officer told me recently, referring to the Israelis. « They could analyze it » — the intelligence — « message by message, and correlate it. They could not only piece together our sources and methods but also learn how we think, and how we approach a problem. All of a sudden, there is no mystery. These are the things we can’t change. You got this, and you got us by the balls. » In other words, the Rota reports, when carefully studied, gave the Israelis « a road map on how to circumvent » the various American collection methods and shield an ongoing military operation. The reports provide guidance on « how to keep us asleep, thinking all is working well, » he added. « They tell the Israelis how to raid Tunisia without tipping off American intelligence in advance. That is damage that is persistent and severe. » (…) One official who had been involved with it told me recently, « It was full of great stuff, particularly in HUMINT — human intelligence. Many Americans who went to the Middle East for business or political reasons agreed, as loyal citizens, to be debriefed by American defense attaches after their visits. They were promised anonymity — many had close friends inside Israel and the nearby Arab states who would be distressed by their collaboration — and the reports were classified. « It’s who’s talking to whom, » the officer said. « Like handing you the address book of the spooks for a year. » (…) Pollard also provided the Israelis with what is perhaps the most important day-to-day information in signals intelligence: the National SIGINT Requirements List, which is essentially a compendium of the tasks, and the priority of those tasks, given to various N.S.A. collection units around the world. Before a bombing mission, for example, a United States satellite might be re-deployed, at enormous financial cost, to provide instantaneous electronic coverage of the target area. In addition, N.S.A. field stations would be ordered to begin especially intensive monitoring of various military units in the target nation. Special N.S.A. coverage would also be ordered before an American covert military unit, such as the Army’s Delta Force or a Navy Seal team, was inserted into hostile territory or hostile waters. Sometimes the N.S.A.’s requests were less comprehensive: a European or Middle Eastern business suspected of selling chemical arms to a potential adversary might be placed on the N.S.A. « watch list » and its faxes, telexes, and other communications carefully monitored. The Requirements List is « like a giant to-do list, » a former N.S.A. operative told me. « If a customer » — someone in the intelligence community — « asked for specific coverage, it would be on a list that is updated daily. » That is, the target of the coverage would be known. « If we’re going to bomb Iraq, we will shift the system, » a senior specialist subsequently told me. « It’s a tipoff where the American emphasis is going to be. » With the List, the specialist added, the Israelis « could see us move our collection systems » prior to military action, and eventually come to understand how the United States Armed Forces « change our emphasis. » In other words, he added, Israel « could make our intelligence system the prime target » and hide whatever was deemed necessary. « The damage goes past Jay’s arrest, » the specialist said, « and could extend up to today. » Israel made dramatic use of the Pollard material on October 1, 1985, seven weeks before his arrest, when its Air Force bombed the headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Tunisia, killing at least sixty-seven people. The United States, which was surprised by the operation, eventually concluded that the Israeli planners had synergistically combined the day-to-day insights of the SIGINT Requirements List with the strategic intelligence of the FOSIF reports and other data that Pollard provided to completely outwit our government’s huge collection apparatus in the Middle East. Even Pollard himself, the senior official told me, « had no idea what he gave away. » (…) A senior intelligence official whose agency was involved in preparing the report for the White House told me, somewhat facetiously, that he would drop all objections to Pollard’s immediate release if the Israeli government would answer two questions: “First, give us a list of what you’ve got, and, second, tell us what you did with it.”Such answers are unlikely to be forthcoming. The Israeli government has acknowledged that Pollard was indeed spying on its behalf but has refused — despite constant entreaties — to provide the United States with a complete list of the documents that were turned over to it. Seymour Hersh
La responsabilité du gouvernement israélien est totale puisque l’opération a été couverte, en son nom, par un officier du Mossad en mission aux Etats-Unis. (…) Cette affaire ressemble à la fameuse affaire Lavon, du nom du ministre de la Défense nommé fin 1953 en remplacement de David Ben Gourion. Afin d’empêcher un rapprochement entre l’Occident et l’Egypte, il avait commandité des opérations de terrorisme en Egypte, préparées et exécutées sous le contrôle des services secrets de l’armée israélienne. L’échec de l’opération «Shoshana» avait entrainé la capture des treize membres du commando dont deux furent exécutés en Egypte, une suicidée et les autres emprisonnées jusqu’à leur libération à la suite d’un échange survenu après la guerre de Six Jours. Le commando était constitué uniquement de jeunes juifs égyptiens inexpérimentés agissant sous l’emprise d’un sionisme exacerbé. L’échec de cette opération conduisit le Mossad à interdire dorénavant l’utilisation d’agents nationaux dans des missions d’espionnage contre leur propre pays. Il s’agissait surtout de ne pas provoquer de dilemme entre le sentiment national et l’exigence de solidarité avec Israël car les communautés juives devaient affirmer leur neutralité vis-à-vis du pays qui les héberge. Cette règle a été ouvertement bafouée dans l’affaire Pollard par un officier traitant qui avait manœuvré en solo, malgré des instructions rigoureuses et parfaitement établies. Il surfait sur l’auréole qu’il avait acquise avec l’arrestation du SS Adolf Eichmann en Argentine. L’éventualité d’une riche moisson d’informations inédites avait conduit le Mossad à faire preuve d’aveuglement coupable. Jamais un juif américain n’aurait dû être autorisé à espionner sa patrie, même si l’importance des données glanées impliquait une exception en la matière. Les conséquences sont effectivement terribles puisque les Américains refusent les règles tacites appliquées par les services de renseignements pour l’élargissement des «honorables correspondants». Ils semblent qu’ils veuillent faire payer l’indélicatesse, sinon la provocation, des Israéliens qui ont nommé l’officier traitant, Rafi Eitan, à un ministère alors qu’il était interdit de séjour aux Etats-Unis et qu’il refuse, encore aujourd’hui, de dévoiler le contenu de sa mission relevant, selon lui, du secret-défense. Dans cette affaire comme dans l’affaire Lavon, le gouvernement israélien semble avoir été mis devant le fait accompli par des officiers omnipotents, agissant sans contrôle et avides de résultats à bon compte. Leur faute aura été de fuir leur responsabilité en lâchant l’espion et lui refusant l’asile. L’opinion publique israélienne a toujours été choquée par ce comportement assimilé à l’abandon d’un blessé de Tsahal sur le champ de bataille. L’affaire Lavon, intrigue militaro-politique, censurée pendant dix ans par le gouvernement et donc occultée par les médias, a été à l’origine d’un cataclysme politique entrainant la démission de ministres et la chute du gouvernement. L’affaire Pollard occupe les esprits depuis plus de vingt ans et, de manière cyclique, elle revient à la une des médias. Les Israéliens estiment que cette affaire ne rehausse pas l’honneur du Mossad qui a préféré sacrifier son agent plutôt que de reconnaitre son erreur auprès de l’administration américaine. (…) La dernière décision du Sénat américain indique que l’espion du Mossad n’est pas prêt d’être libéré et qu’il continue de payer un raté des services qui l’employaient. Il paie aussi parce que l’affaire Pollard n’est pas la seule à défrayer les chroniques alors qu’une nouvelle action d’espionnage similaire était mise à jour. Le FBI et le bureau de contre-espionnage du département de la Justice des Etats-Unis ont enquêté en 2004 sur un analyste de haut rang du Pentagone, Larry Franklin, suspecté d’espionnage au profit d’Israël pour avoir transmis des informations confidentielles sur l’Iran. Il est en cours de jugement et la sentence pourrait rejaillir sur le responsable du Mossad de l’époque, Uzi Arad, persona non grata aux Etats-Unis mais nommé conseiller diplomatique de Benjamin Netanyahou. Sa nomination dans le cercle restreint des conseillers intimes du Premier ministre est considérée par l’administration américaine comme une provocation et un nouveau casus belli. Et n’arrange pas les affaires de Pollard… Jacques Benillouche

Attention: un Jonathan Pollard peut cacher beaucoup d’autres !

Au lendemain des vacances de Monsieur Hulot en Terre sainte …

Et au moment où l’affaire d’espionnage Jonathan Pollard est en train de se transformer en véritable cause célèbre en Israël et ailleurs …

Petit retour, avec un long papier de Seymour Hersch de 1999, sur l’apparemment incroyable étendue des dégâts (jusqu’aux codes d’accès et de cryptage des écoutes ainsi qu’à des listes d’agents pour l’ensemble des services imposant à ces derniers des milliers d’heures et millions de dollars de modifications, autrement dit bien au-delà, si l’on en croit les sources de Hersh, de ce que Pollard lui-même pouvait imaginer: rien de moins, en termes d’espionnage, que les joyaux de la couronne !) …

Causés par l’incroyable appétit (même si tout le monde sait et pratique l’espionnage interallié) …

Tant d’un Pollard pour l’argent mais aussi la mégalomanie (jusqu’à la vente d’armes, via l’Afrique du sud, l’Argentine et Taiwan, pour les rebelles afghans ?) …

Que d’un Mossad (en fait sa branche scientifique, aujourd’hui dissoute, dite Lakam) pour  les secrets militaires de son principal allié (jusqu’à, pour récupérer des savants juifs, en refiler une partie au KGB ?) …

Et donc la raison pour laquelle, sauf urgence humanitaire ou accès soudain (?) de démagogie de M. Hulot lui-même après 28 ans, la communauté du renseignement américain n’est probablement pas près d’accepter l’élargissement …

D’un impénitent qui, sans compter les nouvelles et récentes affaires d’espionnage en cours aux Etats-Unis mêmes ou en Australie et un Mossad (ou d’un Aman, le renseignement militaire dont on se souvient des coups tordus) qui n’a toujours pas accepté de révéler sauf exceptions ce qu’il avait vraiment appris dans l’affaire ou s’il y avait eu d’autres espions en jeu ou des infiltrations soviétiques (après avoir mis 13 ans à reconnaitre les faits),  serait accueilli en plus en Israël en véritable héros national …

Why Pollard Should Never Be Released (The Traitor)

Seymour Hersh

The New Yorker Magazine

January 18, 1999

The Case Against Johnathon Pollard

In the last decade, Jonathan Pollard, the American Navy employee who spied for Israel in the mid-nineteen-eighties and is now serving a life sentence, has become a cause celebre in Israel and among Jewish groups in the United States. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a consortium of fifty-five groups, has publicly called for Pollard’s release, arguing, in essence, that his crimes did not amount to high treason against the United States, because Israel was then and remains a close ally. Many of the leading religious organizations have also called for an end to Pollard’s imprisonment, among them the Reform Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Orthodox Union.

Pollard himself, now forty-seven, has never denied that he turned over a great deal of classified material to the Israelis, but he maintains that his sole motive was to protect Israeli security. « From the start of this affair, I never intended or agreed to spy against the United States, » he told United States District Court Judge Aubrey Robinson,Jr., in a memorandum submitted before his sentencing, in 1986. His goal, he said, was « to provide such information on the Arab powers and the Soviets that would permit the Israelis to avoid a repetition of the Yom Kippur War, » in 1973, when an attack by Egypt and Syria took Israel by surprise. « At no time did I ever compromise the names of any U.S. agents operating overseas, nor did I ever reveal any U.S. ciphers, codes, encipherment devices, classified military technology, the disposition and orders of U.S. forces . . . or communications security procedures, » Pollard added. « I never thought for a second that Israel’s gain would necessarily result in America’s loss. How could it? »

Pollard’s defenders use the same arguments today. In a recent op-ed article in the Washington Post, the Harvard Law School professor Alan M. Dershowitz, who served as Pollard’s lawyer in the early nineteen-nineties, and three co-authors called for President Clinton to correct what they depicted as « this longstanding miscarriage of justice » in the Pollard case. There was nothing in Pollard’s indictment, they added, to suggest that he had « compromised the nation’s intelligence-gathering capabilities » or « betrayed worldwide intelligence data. »

In Israel, Pollard’s release was initially championed by the right, but it has evolved into a mainstream political issue. Early in the Clinton Administration, Yitzhak Rabin, the late Israeli Prime Minister, personally urged the President on at least two occasions to grant clemency. Both times, Clinton reviewed the evidence against Pollard and decided not to take action. But last October, at a crucial moment in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations at the Wye River Conference Centers, in Maryland, he did tentatively agree to release Pollard, or so the Israeli government claimed. When the President’s acquiescence became publicly known, the American intelligence community responded immediately, with unequivocal anger. According to the Times, George J. Tenet, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, warned the President that he would be forced to resign from the agency if Pollard were to be released. Clinton then told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Pollard’s release would not be imminent, and ordered a formal review of the case.

The President’s willingness to consider clemency for Pollard so upset the intelligence community that its leaders took an unusual step: they began to go public. In early December, four retired admirals who had served as director of Naval Intelligence circulated an article, eventually published in the Washington Post, in which they argued that Pollard’s release would be « irresponsible » and a victory for what they depicted as a « clever public relations campaign. » Since then, sensitive details about the secrets Pollard gave away have been made public by CBS and NBC.

In the course of my own interviews for this account, the officials who knew the most about Jonathan Pollard made it clear that they were talking because they no longer had confidence that President Clinton would do what they believed was the right thing — keep Pollard locked up. Pollard, these officials told me, had done far more damage to American national security than was ever made known to the public; for example, he betrayed elements of four major American intelligence systems. In their eyes, there is no distinction between betraying secrets to an enemy, such as the Soviet Union, and betraying secrets to an ally.

Officials are loath to talk publicly about it, but spying on allies is a fact of life: the United States invests billions annually to monitor the communications of its friends. Many American embassies around the world contain a clandestine intercept facility that targets diplomatic communications. The goal is not only to know the military and diplomatic plans of our friends but also to learn what intelligence they may be receiving and with whom they share information. « If a friendly state has friends that we don’t see as friends, » one senior official explained, sensitive intelligence that it should not possess — such as that supplied by Pollard — « can spread to others. » Many officials said they were convinced that information Pollard sold to the Israelis had ultimately wound up in the hands of the Soviet Union.

JONATHAN JAY POLLARD was born in 1954 and grew up as the youngest of three children in South Bend, Indiana; his father, Dr. Morris Pollard, was an award-winning microbiologist who taught at Notre Dame. The young boy did not fit in well in South Bend, and members of his family have described his years in public school there as hellish:

he made constant complaints of being picked on and, in high school, beaten up, because he was Jewish. One of the boy’s happiest times, the family told journalists after his arrest, came when, at the age of sixteen, he attended a summer camp for gifted children in Israel. He talked then of serving in the Israeli Army, but instead he finished high school and went on to Stanford University. His Stanford classmates later recalled that he was full of stories about his ties to Israeli intelligence and the Israeli Army. He also was said to have been a heavy drug and alcohol user.

He graduated in 1976, and in the next three years he attended several graduate schools without getting a degree. He applied for a Job with the C.I.A. but was turned down when the agency concluded, after a lie-detector test and other investigations, that he was « a blabbermouth, » as one official put it, and had misrepresented his drug use. Pollard then tried for a job with the Navy, and obtained a civilian position as a research analyst in the Field Operational Intelligence Office, in Suitland, Maryland. The job required high-level security clearances, and the Navy, which knew nothing about the C.I.A.’s assessment, eventually gave them to Pollard. His initial assignments dealt with the study of surface-ships systems in non-Communist countries, and, according to Pollard’s superiors, his analytical work was excellent. While at Suitland, however, he repeatedly told colleagues far-fetched stories about ties he had with Mossad, the Israeli foreign-intelligence agency, and about his work as an operative in the Middle East.

Pollard’s bragging and storytelling didn’t prevent his immediate supervisors from recognizing his competence as an analyst. He was given many opportunities for promotion, but at least one of them he sabotaged. In the early nineteen-eighties, Lieutenant Commander David G. Muller, Jr., who ran an analytical section at Suitland, had an opening on his staff and summoned Pollard for an interview. « I had respect for him, » Muller recalled recently. « He knew a lot about Navy hardware and a lot about the Middle East. » An early-Monday-morning interview was set up. « Jay blew in the first thing Monday, » Muller recounted. « He looked as if he hadn’t slept or shaved. He proceeded to tell me that on Friday evening his then fiancee, Anne Henderson, had been kidnapped by I.R.A. operatives in Washington, and he’d spent the weekend chasing the kidnappers. » Pollard said that he had managed to rescue his fiancee « only in the wee hours of Monday morning » — just before his appointment. Of course, Pollard did not get the job, Muller said, but he still wishes that he had warned others. « I ought to have gone to the security people, » Muller, who is retired, told me, « and said, ‘Hey, this guy’s a wacko.’ « 

A career American intelligence officer who has been actively involved for years in assessing the damage caused by Pollard told me that Pollard had been desperately broke during this period: « He had credit-card debts, loan debts, debts on rent, furniture, cars. » He was also borrowing heavily from his colleagues, in part to forestall possible garnishment of his wages — an action that could lead to loss of his top-secret clearances. Despite his chronic financial problems, the intelligence officer said, Pollard was constantly spending money on meals in expensive restaurants, on drugs, and on huge bar bills.

In late 1983, shortly after the terrorist bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut, the Navy set up a high-powered Anti-Terrorist Alert Center at Suitland, and in June, 1984, Pollard was assigned to that unit’s Threat Analysis Division. He had access there to the most up-to-date intelligence in the American government. By that summer, however, he had been recruited by Israeli intelligence. He was arrested a year and a half later, in November of 1985.

Pollard was paid well by the Israelis: he received a salary that eventually reached twenty-five hundred dollars a month, and tens of thousands of dollars in cash disbursements for hotels, meals, and even jewelry. In his pre-sentencing statement to Judge Robinson, Pollard depicted the money as a benefit that was forced on him. « I did accept money for my services, » he acknowledged, but only « as a reflection of how well I was doing my job. » He went on to assert that he had later told his controller, Rafi Eitan, a longtime spy who at the time headed a scientific-intelligence unit in Israel, that « I not only intended to repay all the money I’d received but, also, was going to establish a chair at the Israeli General Staff’s Intelligence Training Center outside Tel Aviv. »

Charles S. Leeper, the assistant United States attorney who prosecuted Pollard, challenged his statement that money had not motivated him. In a publicly filed sentencing memorandum, Leeper said that Pollard was known to have received fifty thousand dollars in cash from his Israeli handlers and to have been told that thirty thousand more would be deposited annually in a foreign bank account. Pollard had made a commitment to spy for at least ten years, the memorandum alleged, and « stood to receive an additional five hundred and forty thousand dollars ($540,000) over the expected life of the conspiracy. »

There was no such public specificity, however, when it came to the top-secret materials that Pollard had passed on to Israel. In mid-1986, he elected to plea-bargain rather than face a trial. The government agreed with alacrity: no state secrets would have to be revealed, especially about the extent of Israeli espionage. After the plea bargain, the Justice Department supplied the court with a classified sworn declaration signed by Caspar W. Weinberger, the Secretary of Defense, which detailed, by categories, some of the intelligence systems that had been compromised. Judge Robinson, for his part, said nothing in public about the scope of the materials involved in the case, and merely noted at the end of a lengthy sentencing hearing, in March, 1987, that he had « read all of the material once, twice, thrice, if you will. » He then sentenced Pollard to life in prison. Pollard’s wife, Anne (they had married in 1985), who had been his accomplice, was convicted of unauthorized possession and transmission of classified defense documents and was given a five-year sentence.

Once in jail, Pollard became increasingly fervent in proclaiming his support for Israel. In the Washington Post last summer, the journalist Peter Perl wrote that even Pollard’s friends saw him as « obsessed with vindication, consumed by the idea that he is a victim of anti-semitism and that Israel can rescue him through diplomatic and political pressure. » Pollard has also turned increasingly to Orthodox Judaism. He divorced his wife after her release from prison, in 1990, and in 1994 proclaimed that, under Jewish law, he had been married in prison to a Toronto schoolteacher named Elaine Zeitz. Esther Pollard, as she is now known, is an indefatigable ally, who passionately believes that her husband was wrongfully accused of harming the United States and was therefore wrongfully imprisoned. « This is the kind of issue I feel very strongly concerns every Jew and every decent, law-abiding citizen, » she told an interviewer shortly after the marriage. « The issues are much bigger than Jonathan and myself…. Like it or not, we are writing a page of Jewish history. »

ESTHER POLLARD and her husband s other supporters are mistaken in believing that Jonathan Pollard caused no significant damage to American national security. Furthermore, according to senior members of the American intelligence community, Pollard’s argument that he acted solely from idealistic motives and provided Israel only with those documents which were needed for its defense was a sham designed to mask the fact that he was driven to spy by his chronic need for money.

Before Pollard’s plea bargain, the government had been preparing a multi-count criminal indictment that included-along with espionage, drug, and tax-fraud charges — allegations that before his arrest Pollard had used classified documents in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the governments of South Africa, Argentina, and Taiwan to participate in an arms deal for anti-Communist Afghan rebels who were then being covertly supported by the Reagan Administration. F.B.I. investigators later determined that in the fall of 1985 Pollard had also consulted with three Pakistanis and an Iranian in his efforts to broker arms. (The foreigners were quietly deported within several months of his arrest.)

Had Pollard’s case gone to trial, one of the government’s major witnesses would have been a journalist named Kurt Lohbeck, who had a checkered past. He had served seven months in prison after being convicted of passing a bad check in New Mexico in 1977, but by 1985 he was under contract to the CBS Evening News. Lohbeck, who now lives in Albuquerque — (he received a full pardon from the governor of New Mexico two years ago), acknowledged in a telephone interview that he was prepared to testify, if necessary, about his involvement in Pollard’s unsuccessful efforts in 1985 to broker arms sales for the rebels in the Afghan war. At one meeting with a foreign diplomat, Lohbeck said, Pollard posed as a high-level C.I.A. operative. Lohbeck, who was then CBS’s main battlefield correspondent in the Afghan war, told me that Pollard had provided him, and thus CBS, with a large number of classified American documents concerning the war. He also told me that Pollard had never discussed Israel with him or indicated any special feelings for the state. « I never heard anything political from Jay, » Lohbeck added, « other than that he tried to portray himself as a Reaganite. Not a word about Israel. Jay’s sole interest was in making a lot of money. »

Lohbeck went on to say that he had also been prepared to testify, if asked, about Pollard’s drug use. « Jay used cocaine heavily, and had no compunction about doing it in public. He’d just lay it in lines on the table. » In 1985, Lohbeck made similar statements, government officials said, to the F.B.I.

Pollard, told by me of Lohbeck’s assertions, sent a response from a jail cell in North Carolina: « My relationship with Lohbeck is extremely complicated. I was never indicted for anything I did with him. Remember that. »

The documents that Pollard turned over to Israel were not focussed exclusively on the product of American intelligence — its analytical reports and estimates. They also revealed how America was able to learn what it did — a most sensitive area of intelligence defined as « sources and methods. » Pollard gave the Israelis vast amounts of data dealing with specific American intelligence systems and how they worked. For example, he betrayed details of an exotic capability that American satellites have of taking off-axis photographs from high in space. While orbiting the earth in one direction, the satellites could photograph areas that were seemingly far out of range. Israeli nuclear-missile sites and the like, which would normally be shielded from American satellites, would thus be left exposed, and could be photographed. « We monitor the Israelis, » one intelligence expert told me, « and there’s no doubt the Israelis want to prevent us from being able to surveil their country. » The data passed along by Pollard included detailed information on the various platforms — in the air, on land, and at sea — used by military components of the National Security Agency to intercept Israeli military, commercial, and diplomatic communications.

At the time of Pollard’s spying, select groups of American sailors and soldiers trained in Hebrew were stationed at an N.S.A. listening post near Harrogate, England, and at a specially constructed facility inside the American Embassy in Tel Aviv, where they intercepted and translated Israeli signals. Other interceptions came from an unmanned N.S.A. listening post in Cyprus. Pollard’s handing over of the data had a clear impact, the expert told me, for « we could see the whole process » — of intelligence collection — « slowing down. » It also hindered the United States’ ability to recruit foreign agents. Another senior official commented, with bitterness, « The level of penetration would convince any self-respecting human source to look for other kinds of work. »

A number of officials strongly suspect that the Israelis repackaged much of Pollard’s material and provided it to the Soviet Union in exchange for continued Soviet permission for Jews to emigrate to Israel. Other officials go further, and say there was reason to believe that secret information was exchanged for Jews working in highly sensitive positions in the Soviet Union. A significant percentage of Pollard’s documents, including some that described the techniques the American Navy used to track Soviet submarines around the world, was of practical importance only to the Soviet Union. One longtime C.I.A. officer who worked as a station chief in the Middle East said he understood that « certain elements in the Israeli military had used it » — Pollard’s material — « to trade for people they wanted to get out, » including Jewish scientists working in missile technology and on nuclear issues. Pollard’s spying came at a time when the Israeli government was publicly committed to the free flow of Jewish emigres from the Soviet Union. The officials stressed the fact that they had no hard evidence — no « smoking gun, » in the form of a document from an Israeli or a Soviet archive — to demonstrate the link between Pollard, Israel, and the Soviet Union, but they also said that the documents that Pollard had been directed by his Israeli handlers to betray led them to no other conclusion.

High-level suspicions about Israeli-Soviet collusion were expressed as early as December, 1985, a month after Pollard’s arrest, when William J. Casey, the late C.I.A. director, who was known for his close ties to the Israeli leadership, stunned one of his station chiefs by suddenly complaining about the Israelis breaking the « ground rules. » The issue arose when Casey urged increased monitoring of the Israelis during an otherwise routine visit, I was told by the station chief, who is now retired. « He asked if I knew anything about the Pollard case, » the station chief recalled, and he said that Casey had added, « For your information, the Israelis used Pollard to obtain our attack plan against the U.S.S.R. all of it. The coordinates, the firing locations, the sequences. And for guess who? The Soviets. » (boldface mine – Ronin)Casey had then explained that the Israelis had traded the Pollard data for Soviet emigres. « How’s that for cheating? » he had asked.

In subsequent interviews, former C.I.A. colleagues of Casey’s were unable to advance his categorical assertion significantly. Duane Clarridge, then in charge of clandestine operations in Europe, recalled that the C.I.A. director had told him that the Pollard material « goes beyond just the receipt in Israel of this stuff. » But Casey, who had many close ties to the Israeli intelligence community, hadn’t told Clarridge how he knew what he knew. Robert Gates, who became deputy C.I.A. director in April, 1986, told me that Casey had never indicated to him that he had specific information about the Pollard material arriving in Moscow. « The notion that the Russians may have gotten some of the stuff has always been a viewpoint, » Gates said, but not through the bartering of emigres. « The only view I heard expressed was that it was through intelligence operations » — the K.G.B.

In any event, there was enough evidence, officials told me, to include a statement about the possible flow of intelligence to the Soviet Union in Defense Secretary Weinberger’s top-secret declaration that was presented to the court before Pollard’s sentencing. There was little doubt, I learned from an official who was directly involved, that Soviet intelligence had access to the most secret information in Israel. « The question, » the official said, « was whether we could prove it was Pollard’s material that went over the aqueduct. We couldn’t get there, so we suggested » in the Weinberger affidavit that the possibility existed. Caution was necessary, the official added, for « fear that the other side would say that ‘these people are seeing spies under the bed.’ « 

The Justice Department further informed Judge Robinson, in a publicly filed memorandum, that « numerous » analyses of Soviet missile systems had been sold by Pollard to Israel, and that those documents included « information from human sources whose identity could be inferred by a reasonably competent intelligence analyst. Moreover, the identity of the authors of these classified publications » was clearly marked.

A retired Navy admiral who was directly involved in the Pollard investigation told me, « There is no question that the Russians got a lot of the Pollard stuff. The only question is how did it get there? » The admiral, like Robert Gates, had an alternative explanation. He pointed out that Israel would always play a special role in American national security affairs. « We give them truckloads of stuff in the normal course of our official relations, » the admiral said. « And they use it very effectively. They do things worth doing, and they will go places where we will not go, and do what we do not dare to do. »

Nevertheless, he said, it was understood that the Soviet intelligence services had long since penetrated Israel. (One important Soviet spy, Shabtai Kalmanovitch, whose job at one point was to ease the resettlement of Russian emigrants in Israel, was arrested in 1987.) It was reasonably assumed in the aftermath of Pollard, the admiral added, that Soviet spies inside Israel had been used to funnel some of the Pollard material to Moscow.

A full accounting of the materials provided by Pollard to the Israelis has been impossible to obtain: Pollard himself has estimated that the documents would create a stack six feet wide, six feet long, and ten feet high. Rafi Eitan, the Israeli who controlled the operation, and two colleagues of his attached to the Israeli diplomatic delegation — Irit Erb and Joseph Yagur — were named as unindicted co-conspirators by the Justice Department. In the summer of 1984, Eitan brought in Colonel Aviem Sella, an Air Force hero, who led Israel’s dramatic and successful 1981 bombing raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak. (Sella was eventually indicted, in absentia, on three counts of espionage.) Eitan’s decision to order Sella into the case is considered by many Americans to have been a brilliant stroke: the Israeli war hero was met with starry eyes by Pollard, a chronic wannabe.

Yagur, Erb, and Sella were in Washington when Pollard was first seized by the F.B.I., in November, 1985, but they quickly left the country, never to return. During one period, Pollard had been handing over documents to them almost weekly, and they had been forced to rent an apartment in northwest Washington, where they installed a high-speed photocopying machine. « Safe houses and special Xeroxes? » an American career intelligence officer said, despairingly, concerning the Pollard operation. « This was not the first guy they’d recruited. » In the years following Pollard’s arrest and confession, the Israeli government chose not to cooperate fully with the F.B.I. and Justice Department investigation, and only a token number of the Pollard documents have been returned. It was not until last May that the Israeli government even acknowledged that Pollard had been its operative.

In fact, it is widely believed that Pollard was not the only one in the American government spying for Israel. During his year and a half of spying, his Israeli handlers requested specific documents, which were identified only by top-secret control numbers. After much internal assessment, the government’s intelligence experts concluded that it was « highly unlikely, » in the words of a Justice Department official, that any of the other American spies of the era would have had access to the specific control numbers. « There is only one conclusion, » the expert told me. The Israelis « got the numbers from somebody else in the U.S. government. »

THE men and women of the National Security Agency live in a world of chaotic bleeps, buzzes, and whistles, and talk to each other about frequencies, spectrums, modulation, and bandwidth — the stuff of Tom Clancy novels. They often deal with signals intelligence, or SIGINT, and their world is kept in order by an in-house manual known as the RASIN an acronym for radio-signal notations. The manual, which is classified « top-secret Umbra, » fills ten volumes, is constantly updated, and lists the physical parameters of every known signal. Pollard took it all. « It’s the Bible, » one former communications-intelligence officer told me. « It tells how we collect signals anywhere in the world. » The site, frequency, and significant features of Israeli communications — those that were known and targeted by the N.S.A. — were in the RASIN; so were all the known communications links used by the Soviet Union.

The loss of the RASIN was especially embarrassing to the Navy, I was told by the retired admiral, because the copy that Pollard photocopied belonged to the Office of Naval Intelligence. « He went into our library, found we had an out-of-date version, requested a new one, and passed it on, » the officer said. « I was surprised we even had it. »

The RASIN theft was one of the specifics cited in Defense Secretary Weinberger’s still secret declaration to the court before Pollard’s sentencing hearing. In fact, the hearing’s most dramatic moment came when Pollard’s attorney, Richard A. Hibey, readily acknowledged his client’s guilt but argued that the extent of the damage to American national security did not call for the imposition of a maximum sentence.

« I would ask you to think about the Secretary of Defense’s affidavit, as it related to only one thing, » Judge Robinson interjected, « with reference to one particular category of publication, and I fail to see how you can make that argument. » He invited Hibey to approach the bench, along with the Justice Department attorneys, and the group spent a few moments reviewing what government officials told me was Weinberger’s account of the importance of the RAISIN. One Justice Department official, recalling those moments with obvious pleasure, said that the RASIN was the ninth item on the Weinberger damage-assessment list. After the bench conference, Hibey made no further attempt to minimize the national-security damage caused by its theft. (Citing national security, Hibey refused to discuss the case for this article.)

The ten volumes of the RASIN were available on a need-to-know basis inside the N.S.A. « I’ve never seen the monster, » a former senior watch officer at an N.S.A. intercept site in Europe told me, but added that he did supervise people who constantly used it, and he described its function in easy-to-understand terms:

« It is a complete catalogue of what the United States was listening to, or could listen to — information referred to in the N.S.A. as ‘parametric data.’ It tells you everything you want to know about a particular signal — when it was first detected and where, whom it was first used by, what kind of entity, frequency, wavelength, or band length it has. When you’ve copied a signal and don’t know what it is, the RASIN manual gives you a description. » A senior intelligence official who consults regularly with the N.S.A. on technical matters subsequently told me that another issue involved geometry.

A senior intelligence official who consults regularly with the N.S.A. on technical matters subsequently told me that another issue involved geometry. The RASIN, he explained, had been focussed in particular on the Soviet Union and its thousands of high-frequency, or shortwave, communications, which had enabled Russian military units at either end of the huge land mass to communicate with each other. Those signals « bounced » off the ionosphere and were often best intercepted thousands of miles from their point of origin. If, as many in the American intelligence community suspected, the Soviet communications experts had been able to learn which of their signals were being monitored, and where, they could relocate the signal and force the N.S.A. to invest man-hours and money to try to recapture it. Or, more likely, the Soviets could continue to communicate in a normal fashion but relay false and misleading information.

Pollard’s betrayal of the RASIN put the N.S.A. in the position of having to question or reevaluate all of its intelligence collecting. « We aren’t perfect, » the career intelligence officer explained to me. « We’ve got holes in our coverage, and this » — the loss of the RASIN — tells where the biases and the weaknesses are. It’s how we get the job done, and how we will get the job done. »

« What a wonderful insight into how we think, and exactly how we’re exploiting Soviet communications! » the retired admiral exclaimed. « It’s a how-to-do-it book — the fireside cookbook of cryptology. Not only the analyses but the facts of how we derived our analyses. Whatever recipe you want. »

Pollard, asked about the specific programs he compromised, told me, « As far as SIGINT information is concerned, the government has consistently lied in its public version of what I gave the Israelis. »

In the mid-nineteen-eighties, the daily report from the Navy’s Sixth Fleet Ocean Surveillance Information Facility (FOSIF) in Rota, Spain, was one of America’s Cold War staples. A top-secret document filed every morning at 0800 Zulu time (Greenwich Mean Time), it reported all that had gone on in the Middle East during the previous twenty-four hours, as recorded by the N.S.A.’s most sophisticated monitoring devices.

The reports were renowned inside Navy commands for their sophistication and their reliability; they were based, as the senior managers understood it, on data supplied both by intelligence agents throughout the Middle East and by the most advanced technical means of intercepting Soviet military communications. The Navy’s intelligence facility at Rota shared space with a huge N.S.A. intercept station, occupied by more than seven hundred linguists and cryptographers, which was responsible for monitoring and decoding military and diplomatic communications all across North Africa. Many at Rota spent hundreds of hours a month listening while locked in top-secret compartments aboard American ships, aircraft, and submarines operating in the Mediterranean.

The Navy’s primary targets were the ships, the aircraft, and, most important, the nuclear-armed submarines of the Soviet Union on patrol in the Mediterranean. Those submarines, whose nuclear missiles were aimed at United States forces, were constantly being tracked; they were to be targeted and destroyed within hours if war broke out.

Pollard’s American interrogators eventually concluded that in his year and a half of spying he had provided the Israelis with more than a year’s worth of the daily FOSIF reports from Rota. Pollard himself told the Americans that at one point in 1985 the Israelis had nagged him when he missed several days of work because of illness and had failed to deliver the FOSIF reports for those days. One of his handlers, Joseph Yagur, had complained twice about the missed messages and had asked him to find a way to retrieve them. Pollard told his American interrogators that he had never missed again.

The career intelligence officer who helped to assess the Pollard damage has come to view Pollard as a serial spy, the Ted Bundy of the intelligence world. « Pollard gave them every message for a whole year, » the officer told me recently, referring to the Israelis. « They could analyze it » — the intelligence — « message by message, and correlate it. They could not only piece together our sources and methods but also learn how we think, and how we approach a problem. All of a sudden, there is no mystery. These are the things we can’t change. You got this, and you got us by the balls. » In other words, the Rota reports, when carefully studied, gave the Israelis « a road map on how to circumvent » the various American collection methods and shield an ongoing military operation. The reports provide guidance on « how to keep us asleep, thinking all is working well, » he added. « They tell the Israelis how to raid Tunisia without tipping off American intelligence in advance. That is damage that is persistent and severe. »

NOT every document handed over by Pollard dealt with signals intelligence. DIAL-COINS is the acronym for the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Community On-Line Intelligence System, which was one of the government’s first computerized information-retrieval-network systems. The system, which was comparatively primitive in the mid-nineteen-eighties — it used an 8088 operating chip and thermafax paper — could not be accessed by specific issues or key words but spewed out vast amounts of networked intelligence data by time frame. Nevertheless, DIAL-COINS contained all the intelligence reports filed by Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine attaches in Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East. One official who had been involved with it told me recently, « It was full of great stuff, particularly in HUMINT — human intelligence. Many Americans who went to the Middle East for business or political reasons agreed, as loyal citizens, to be debriefed by American defense attaches after their visits. They were promised anonymity — many had close friends inside Israel and the nearby Arab states who would be distressed by their collaboration — and the reports were classified. « It’s who’s talking to whom, » the officer said. « Like handing you the address book of the spooks for a year. »

Government investigators discovered that one of the system’s heaviest users in 1984 and 1985 was Jonathan Pollard. He had all the necessary clearances and necessary credentials to gain access to the classified Pentagon library; he also understood that librarians, even in secret libraries, are always eager to help, and in one instance he relied on the library security guards. With some chagrin, officials involved in the Pollard investigation recounted that Pollard had once collected so much data that he needed a handcart to move the papers to his car, in a nearby parking lot, and the security guards held the doors for him.

Pollard also provided the Israelis with what is perhaps the most important day-to-day information in signals intelligence: the National SIGINT Requirements List, which is essentially a compendium of the tasks, and the priority of those tasks, given to various N.S.A. collection units around the world. Before a bombing mission, for example, a United States satellite might be re-deployed, at enormous financial cost, to provide instantaneous electronic coverage of the target area. In addition, N.S.A. field stations would be ordered to begin especially intensive monitoring of various military units in the target nation. Special N.S.A. coverage would also be ordered before an American covert military unit, such as the Army’s Delta Force or a Navy Seal team, was inserted into hostile territory or hostile waters. Sometimes the N.S.A.’s requests were less comprehensive: a European or Middle Eastern business suspected of selling chemical arms to a potential adversary might be placed on the N.S.A. « watch list » and its faxes, telexes, and other communications carefully monitored. The Requirements List is « like a giant to-do list, » a former N.S.A. operative told me. « If a customer » — someone in the intelligence community — « asked for specific coverage, it would be on a list that is updated daily. » That is, the target of the coverage would be known.

« If we’re going to bomb Iraq, we will shift the system, » a senior specialist subsequently told me. « It’s a tipoff where the American emphasis is going to be. » With the List, the specialist added, the Israelis « could see us move our collection systems » prior to military action, and eventually come to understand how the United States Armed Forces « change our emphasis. » In other words, he added, Israel « could make our intelligence system the prime target » and hide whatever was deemed necessary. « The damage goes past Jay’s arrest, » the specialist said, « and could extend up to today. »

Israel made dramatic use of the Pollard material on October 1, 1985, seven weeks before his arrest, when its Air Force bombed the headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Tunisia, killing at least sixty-seven people. The United States, which was surprised by the operation, eventually concluded that the Israeli planners had synergistically combined the day-to-day insights of the SIGINT Requirements List with the strategic intelligence of the FOSIF reports and other data that Pollard provided to completely outwit our government’s huge collection apparatus in the Middle East. Even Pollard himself, the senior official told me, « had no idea what he gave away. » The results of President Clinton’s requested review of the Pollard case by officials in the intelligence community and other interested parties were to be presented to the White House by January 11th. A former Justice Department official told me, « Nobody can believe that any President would have the gall to release this kind of spy. » But as the report was being prepared the nature of the questions that the White House was referring to the Justice Department convinced some intelligence officials that Clinton was considering a compromise, such as commuting Pollard’s life sentence to twenty-five years in prison.

The queries about commutation were coming not from Roger Adams, the President’s pardon attorney, but from Charles F. C. Ruff, the White House counsel. « Pollard would get half a loaf, » one distraught career intelligence official told me. The deal believed to be under consideration would provide for his release, with time off for good behavior, in the summer of 2002. The solution had a certain « political beauty, » the official added — in the eyes of the White House. « Pollard doesn’t get out right away, and the issue doesn’t cause any trouble. And getting the United States to bend would be a serious victory for Israel. »

A senior intelligence official whose agency was involved in preparing the report for the White House told me, somewhat facetiously, that he would drop all objections to Pollard’s immediate release if the Israeli government would answer two questions: « First, give us a list of what you’ve got, and, second, tell us what you did with it. » Such answers are unlikely to be forthcoming. The Israeli government has acknowledged that Pollard was indeed spying on its behalf but has refused — despite constant entreaties — to provide the United States with a complete list of the documents that were turned over to it.

Some members of the intelligence community view themselves today as waging a dramatic holding action against a President who they believe is eager to split the difference with the Israelis on Pollard’s fate. They see Bill Clinton as a facilitator who would not hesitate to trade Pollard to the Israelis if he thought that would push Israel into a peace settlement and result in a foreign-policy success. The officials emphasize that they support Clinton’s efforts to resolve the Middle East crisis but do not think it is appropriate to use Pollard as a bargaining chip.

Adding to their dismay, some officials made clear, is the fact that Clinton himself, having studied the case years ago, when he was considering Yitzhak Rabin’s request for clemency, knows as much as anyone in the United States government about the significance of Pollard’s treachery. One informed official described a private moment at the Wye peace summit when George Tenet, the C.I.A. director, warned the President that Pollard’s release would enrage and demoralize the intelligence community. « What he got back, » the official told me, « was ‘Nah, don’t worry about it. It’ll blow over.’ « 

Voir aussi:

Pollard, l’espion américain que Washington ne veut pas libérer

Les Etats-Unis refusent toujours de libérer Jonathan Pollard, un Américain condamné en 1987 pour espionnage au profit d’Israël.

Jacques Benillouche

Slate

Le scientifique russe Igor Soutiaguine a été échangé le 8 juillet à Vienne contre la jeune espionne moscovite de 28 ans, Anna Chapman après avoir été condamné à de la prison ferme en Russie. Il avait été convaincu d’espionnage pour le compte des États-Unis. Anna Chapman fait partie des dix personnes qui ont été arrêtées lors d’un coup de filet spectaculaire aux Etats-Unis, en juin 2010 et qui ont été relâchées après un échange russo-américain.

Pendant ce temps, l’espion israélien Jonathan Pollard a fêté ses 9.000 jours de captivité aux Etats-Unis, un quart de siècle, après avoir été arrêté en 1986. Des manifestations pour sa libération et des illuminations en son honneur ont été organisées le 13 juillet par la mairie de Jérusalem devant le mur occidental. L’acharnement américain pour ce prisonnier est inexplicable puisque le gouvernement israélien s’était engagé officiellement à interdire dorénavant toute activité d’espionnage sur le sol américain.

Chaque élection d’un président américain était l’occasion pour exhumer le dossier Pollard mais les premiers ministres israéliens successifs n’ont pas réussi à obtenir la grâce de l’espion condamné à perpétuité aux Etats-Unis en 1987 pour espionnage au profit d’Israël. Citoyen américain né en 1954, il travaillait depuis novembre 1979 pour la marine américaine en tant qu’officier de renseignement et communiquait de nombreux documents protégés. Découvert par le FBI, il tenta alors de fuir en réclamant, auprès de l’ambassade israélienne, un asile politique qui ne lui a pas été accordé. L’Etat d’Israël a mis plusieurs années à reconnaitre que l’espion était israélien tandis que le FBI était persuadé qu’il arrêtait un agent du Pakistan ou de l’Arabie Saoudite.

L’entêtement de l’administration américaine à refuser la grâce n’est pas liée aux secrets, depuis périmés, qui ont été divulgués mais au fait que deux pays amis ne pouvaient participer à un espionnage mutuel. Le Sénat américain s’oppose systématiquement à la libération anticipée de l’espion: «Nous ne souhaitons pas mettre à mal les intérêts stratégiques américains en libérant Pollard ». Mais la timidité des interventions israéliennes en faveur de leur espion ne laissent pas d’étonner car la responsabilité du gouvernement israélien est totale puisque l’opération a été couverte, en son nom, par un officier du Mossad en mission aux Etats-Unis.

Affaire Lavon Bis

Cette affaire ressemble à la fameuse affaire Lavon, du nom du ministre de la Défense nommé fin 1953 en remplacement de David Ben Gourion. Afin d’empêcher un rapprochement entre l’Occident et l’Egypte, il avait commandité des opérations de terrorisme en Egypte, préparées et exécutées sous le contrôle des services secrets de l’armée israélienne. L’échec de l’opération «Shoshana» avait entrainé la capture des treize membres du commando dont deux furent exécutés en Egypte, une suicidée et les autres emprisonnées jusqu’à leur libération à la suite d’un échange survenu après la guerre de Six Jours.

Le commando était constitué uniquement de jeunes juifs égyptiens inexpérimentés agissant sous l’emprise d’un sionisme exacerbé.L’échec de cette opération conduisit le Mossad à interdire dorénavant l’utilisation d’agents nationaux dans des missions d’espionnage contre leur propre pays. Il s’agissait surtout de ne pas provoquer de dilemme entre le sentiment national et l’exigence de solidarité avec Israël car les communautés juives devaient affirmer leur neutralité vis-à-vis du pays qui les héberge.

Cette règle a été ouvertement bafouée dans l’affaire Pollard par un officier traitant qui avait manœuvré en solo, malgré des instructions rigoureuses et parfaitement établies. Il surfait sur l’auréole qu’il avait acquise avec l’arrestation du SS Adolf Eichmann en Argentine. L’éventualité d’une riche moisson d’informations inédites avait conduit le Mossad à faire preuve d’aveuglement coupable. Jamais un juif américain n’aurait dû être autorisé à espionner sa patrie, même si l’importance des données glanées impliquait une exception en la matière.

Les conséquences sont effectivement terribles puisque les Américains refusent les règles tacites appliquées par les services de renseignements pour l’élargissement des «honorables correspondants». Ils semblent qu’ils veuillent faire payer l’indélicatesse, sinon la provocation, des Israéliens qui ont nommé l’officier traitant, Rafi Eitan, à un ministère alors qu’il était interdit de séjour aux Etats-Unis et qu’il refuse, encore aujourd’hui, de dévoiler le contenu de sa mission relevant, selon lui, du secret-défense.

Dans cette affaire comme dans l’affaire Lavon, le gouvernement israélien semble avoir été mis devant le fait accompli par des officiers omnipotents, agissant sans contrôle et avides de résultats à bon compte. Leur faute aura été de fuir leur responsabilité en lâchant l’espion et lui refusant l’asile. L’opinion publique israélienne a toujours été choquée par ce comportement assimilé à l’abandon d’un blessé de Tsahal sur le champ de bataille.

Censure gouvernementale

L’affaire Lavon, intrigue militaro-politique, censurée pendant dix ans par le gouvernement et donc occultée par les médias, a été à l’origine d’un cataclysme politique entrainant la démission de ministres et la chute du gouvernement. L’affaire Pollard occupe les esprits depuis plus de vingt ans et, de manière cyclique, elle revient à la une des médias. Les Israéliens estiment que cette affaire ne rehausse pas l’honneur du Mossad qui a préféré sacrifier son agent plutôt que de reconnaitre son erreur auprès de l’administration américaine.

Un collectif d’associations avait adressé une supplique à Benjamin Netanyahou:

« A l’approche de votre visite aux Etats-Unis, nous ressentons le devoir moral d’évoquer à nouveau le sujet de la libération de Jonathan Pollard, qui a agi au nom de l’Etat et en sa faveur. Israël a l’obligation incontestable de le ramener à la maison. »

Le Premier ministre israélien est toujours revenu bredouille de ses voyages.

La dernière décision du Sénat américain indique que l’espion du Mossad n’est pas prêt d’être libéré et qu’il continue de payer un raté des services qui l’employaient. Il paie aussi parce que l’affaire Pollard n’est pas la seule à défrayer les chroniques alors qu’une nouvelle action d’espionnage similaire était mise à jour. Le FBI et le bureau de contre-espionnage du département de la Justice des Etats-Unis ont enquêté en 2004 sur un analyste de haut rang du Pentagone, Larry Franklin, suspecté d’espionnage au profit d’Israël pour avoir transmis des informations confidentielles sur l’Iran. Il est en cours de jugement et la sentence pourrait rejaillir sur le responsable du Mossad de l’époque, Uzi Arad, persona non grata aux Etats-Unis mais nommé conseiller diplomatique de Benjamin Netanyahou. Sa nomination dans le cercle restreint des conseillers intimes du Premier ministre est considérée par l’administration américaine comme une provocation et un nouveau casus belli. Et n’arrange pas les affaires de Pollard…

Voir également:

CHRONIQUE CINEMA

Israël : Lakam ou le fonctionnement du Mossad II. L’histoire d’Arnon Milchan jusqu’à Hollywod.

AllianceFr

L’homme que Hollywood célébrait était un des plus grands maîtres espions d’Israël, et il avait procuré à son pays, une quantité impressionnante de technologies américaines…

Arnon Milchan est né en 1944 au sein d’une famille nombreuse dans la ville de Rehovot, alors une des plus dynamiques de la Palestine sous mandat britannique, sur une terre de vignobles et d’orangers autrefois cultivée par son grand-père. Quatre ans plus tard, grâce à un vote des Nations unies, Rehovot se trouvait faire partie d’un petit pays de pionniers et de survivants des camps, bientôt assiégé par ses voisins arabes.

Après la guerre, la région entama sa transformation en centre technologique et scientifique. La famille Milchan se lança dans l’industrie des fertilisants et la distribution de carburants. Après ses premiers succès, elle installa ses bureaux à Tel-Aviv.

Arnon fut donc élevé au milieu de l’élite ashkénaze (issue de l’émigration européenne) et se distingua rapidement par sa vivacité d’esprit et son hyperactivité. L’adolescent fut envoyé dans une école chic anglaise, afin de lui donner un vernis cosmopolite. Il s’y distingua par ses talents au football et y fit aussi sa première expérience de l’antisémitisme.

Après son service militaire, le jeune homme fut envoyé en Suisse pour y suivre des études de chimie et se préparer à travailler dans l’entreprise familiale de fertilisants. Mais en 1965, il dut interrompre brutalement ses études pour rentrer au chevet de son père, mourant. A 21 ans, il lui fallut reprendre les rênes de l’entreprise familiale. A cette époque, la société était au bord de la faillite et ses partenaires ne donnaient pas cher du nouveau P-DG.

En inventoriant les dossiers de son père, Arnon fit une découverte qui allait changer le cours des événements. La société n’était pas seulement, comme il le croyait, engagée dans le domaine agricole. Dans le plus grand secret, elle avait aussi développé une petite mais prometteuse activité d’import-export en armement !

Capitalisant sur cette première expérience, Arnon réussit à maintenir la société à flot et à la développer au-delà de tout ce que l’on aurait cru possible. Totalement ignorant en matière d’armes, le jeune homme s’abonna à toutes les revues spécialisées de la planète, apprit par cœur les noms de tous les fabricants et les contacta tous en leur proposant de devenir leur représentant exclusif en Israël. Il obtint plusieurs rendez-vous et quelques contrats. Il fit à cette époque la connaissance de deux personnages capitaux pour son travail mais aussi pour le tour qu’allait prendre sa vie.

L’un d’eux était le célèbre Moshe Dayan, vétéran de Tsahal et ministre de la Défense ; l’autre, moins célèbre à l’époque, se nommait Shimon Peres : il était alors sous-ministre de la Défense après avoir été directeur général du ministère, en charge d’achats d’armes.

Ce fut le début d’une relation qui allait faire basculer Arnon dans le monde obscur du renseignement. Après quelques mois de fréquentation amicale, Peres informa Milchan du “grand secret” d’Israël : son programme nucléaire clandestin, développé avec l’aide des Français. Il lui présenta l’homme à qui il avait confié la sécurité du programme: Benjamin Blumberg, ancien responsable du contre-espionnage et de la sécurité au ministère de la Défense.

Ce dernier était en train de monter une agence secrète, chargée de se procurer l’équipement et les matériels indispensables au programme israélien, mais en principe impossibles à acquérir sur le marché légal. Cette agence, installée dans un bâtiment du ministère de la Défense, serait si secrète que même le Mossad ne serait pas informé de son activité.

Au début des années 1970, elle serait baptisée “Bureau de liaison scientifique” ou Lakam, et surnommée par certains initiés le “Mossad II”. Elle devait acquérir les équipements nécessaires au programme nucléaire par tous les moyens, y compris la tromperie, le vol et la force. En effet, à cette époque la relation avec la France était en train de se refroidir et il était urgent de trouver d’autres canaux d’approvisionnement.

Système de guidage de missiles, centrifugeuses, carburant pour fusées, équipement de vision nocturne, lasers… la liste des demandes allait bientôt ressembler à un inventaire à la Prévert et excéder largement les besoins du programme nucléaire pour couvrir tous les secteurs de la défense israélienne au fur et à mesure que les succès s’accumuleraient et que la notoriété du Lakam déborderait certains cercles étroits.

Une commission secrète de scientifiques fut formée pour définir les besoins prioritaires. Elle se réunissait chaque semaine pour établir les listes d’objectifs, précisant où on pouvait se les procurer.

Qui s’en chargeait ensuite et par quels moyens? Les membres n’avaient pas besoin de le savoir.

Pendant les années 1970, le Lakam fut si discret qu’aucune des agences de renseignement occidentales ne soupçonna son existence, alors même qu’il agissait sur la plupart de leurs territoires.

Dans son étude sur le système du renseignement israélien saisie par les Iraniens lors de la prise d’otages de l’ambassade des Etats-Unis à Téhéran en 1979, la CIA identifie correctement la recherche technologique dans les pays amis comme une des priorités israéliennes.

Mais elle ne soupçonne pas l’existence d’une agence distincte chargée de cette mission. De ce fait, les soupçons et la surveillance du contre-espionnage restèrent longtemps focalisés sur les équipes du Mossad, laissant le champ libre aux francs-tireurs du Lakam. D’autant plus francs-tireurs que certains, à l’image d’Arnon Milchan, avaient sur le territoire américain une véritable et légitime activité économique.

Après avoir révélé à son ami Arnon les dessous de la politique de défense israélienne, et constaté avec satisfaction que sa motivation à servir Israël dans un environnement dangereux était inchangée, Shimon Peres le mit entre les mains de Benjamin Blumberg, dont le jeune entrepreneur allait devenir un des plus importants agents.

En apparence, le quinquagénaire Blumberg tenait plus du bureaucrate que du maître espion, avec son physique quelconque, sa voix douce et son air sinistre. Mais les deux hommes développèrent rapidement une amitié durable, au point que Milchan fut vite considéré au sein du service comme le chouchou du patron.

Aux yeux de Blumberg, l’audacieux et créatif Arnon Milchan correspondait parfaitement au profil d’agents qu’il souhaitait recruter pour compléter son réseau d’attachés militaires : des hommes d’affaires légitimes, avec de véritables activités, et suffisamment patriotes pour prendre des risques au service du Lakam.

On le forma donc à toutes techniques qu’il aurait besoin de maîtriser au cours de ses missions : comment créer des sociétés écrans, jongler avec les comptes bancaires offshore, la technique des faux documents de destination pour le commerce d’armes, etc.

Des compétences qui lui seraient également d’une grande utilité pour développer ses affaires. Arnon reçut aussi une formation sur le recrutement et la manipulation de sources. Et il se fit la main avec quelques petites “courses” pour le Lakam. Besoin de 1000 tonnes de perchlorate d’ammonium ? De radars de précision ? A chaque fois, Arnon trouvait la solution. Pas de doute, il était prêt pour des missions à risque…

Après quelques mois d’immersion dans le monde du renseignement, Milchan put prendre l’initiative et surprendre ses recruteurs. Il fit à ses amis Shimon Peres et Moshe Dayan une proposition qu’ils ne pouvaient pas refuser.

D’ores et déjà, sa société était le représentant non exclusif en Israël de plusieurs industriels de l’armement et de l’aviation. Si le ministère de la Défense expliquait de façon officieuse à ces industriels que Milchan était dorénavant le point de passage obligé, ce dernier s’engageait à reverser ses commissions sur les contrats aux fonds secrets du ministère, et donc du Lakam ! Les commissions seraient versées par les industriels sur des comptes secrets à l’étranger, ce qui permettrait ensuite de financer des missions qui ne devaient laisser aucune trace.

De facto, Milchan devenait le banquier occulte des grosses opérations secrètes du renseignement israélien à l’étranger : non seulement celles du Lakam, mais aussi parfois celles du Mossad.

Lui seul connaissait l’ensemble des comptes ouverts un peu partout dans le monde et les avoirs disponibles dans chacun d’eux. En fonction des besoins, il faisait mettre à disposition de tel agent dans tel pays une somme en liquide dont la provenance serait impossible à établir. Il pourrait aussi s’en servir pour régler des achats de matériels… ou pour payer une rançon ou un pot-de-vin.

Ce qui ne signifie pas que Milchan soit informé de chaque mission en détail: il devait en savoir le moins possible, uniquement ce qui était nécessaire pour mettre à disposition une certaine somme à l’usage d’une certaine personne… Ce seul rôle donnait au jeune homme un pouvoir considérable, mais ses ambitions ne s’arrêtaient pas là.

L’entrepreneur fit à ses amis une deuxième suggestion : il offrit d’établir notamment aux Etats-Unis des filiales de son groupe, qui serviraient de couverture aux activités du service.

Il devenait ainsi un rouage essentiel du dispositif. Ce qui ne pouvait avoir que des effets positifs sur son business avec le ministère de la Défense. Comment en effet refuser à un allié si précieux un petit coup de pouce de temps à autre, surtout s’il ne laisse pas de trace ?
(…)

Après la guerre de Kippour de 1973, qui avait montré pour la première fois l’armée d’Israël en difficulté, la priorité du ministère de la Défense fut à la modernisation de ses troupes.

Il devenait crucial qu’elles disposent toujours des technologies les plus en pointe pour ne pas se retrouver acculées lors de la prochaine guerre. De leur côté, les Etats-Unis accordaient désormais à Israël des aides toujours plus considérables… à dépenser auprès de l’industrie américaine. Ce fut une période faste pour les entreprises d’Arnon Milchan et pour ses clients, en particulier Raytheon.

C’est lors d’une visite privée dans les installations nucléaires de Dimona que Milchan entendit pour la première fois parler du krytron. Les krytrons sont utilisés dans les photocopieuses et nombre d’appareils médicaux. Ils ont aussi un usage comme détonateur de bombe nucléaire, ce qui est moins connu.

Une seule société les fabriquait aux Etats-Unis à l’époque et leur exportation était sérieusement réglementée. En 1975, on demanda à Smyth d’en acheter quatre cents et, comme c’était la règle, il remplit la licence d’exportation de munitions requise pour ce type de matériel, qui fut cette fois refusée.

En 1976, un nouvel essai fut à nouveau infructueux. Cette fois, la CIA commença à se poser des questions sur les activités de Milco.

Pendant ce temps, celles de Milchan continuaient à se développer un peu partout dans le monde. L’homme d’affaires fut informé par son mentor Peres du rapprochement en cours entre Israël et l’Afrique du Sud. Ce pays africain allait devenir le premier marché israélien pour l’armement.

Cette fois encore, Milchan allait servir d’agent commercial à cette part de l’industrie israélienne, alors en plein essor.

On demanda aussi à Milchan de seconder l’effort de réhabilitation médiatique tenté par le gouvernement sud-africain, qui consistait à racheter les journaux et magazines susceptibles de faire évoluer l’opinion publique internationale. Après quelques séjours en Afrique du Sud, Milchan, de plus en plus mal à l’aise avec les réalités du régime, laissa vite tomber cette activité.

Pendant cette époque, il développa aussi des relations commerciales avec Taïwan, qui souffrait alors du rapprochement diplomatique entre la Chine continentale et les Etats-Unis. L’oncle Sam ne pouvait plus décemment vendre d’armes au frère ennemi taïwanais de ses nouveaux amis chinois, mais rien n’empêchait qu’Israël se substitue à lui comme partenaire commercial.

C’est ainsi que jusqu’à 20 % du chiffre d’affaires de Milco fut réalisé à la fin des années 1970 avec Taïwan. Dans les années 1980, le rapprochement entre la Chine et Israël conduirait l’Etat hébreu à réduire à son tour ses exportations vers Taïwan, mais entretemps le groupe Milchan aurait bénéficié de plusieurs beaux marchés.
(…)

En 1981, le Lakam changea de tête pour la première fois, sur décision du nouveau ministre de la Défense, Ariel Sharon, qui trouvait Blumberg trop proche de Peres à son goût pour un poste aussi sensible. Il le remplaça par Rafi Eitan, un ami et ancien du Mossad alors âgé de 55 ans. Eitan était déjà à l’époque une légende du renseignement israélien. Ancien du Shin Bet et du Mossad, il avait commandé l’équipe qui captura Eichmann à Buenos Aires en 1960.

A la fin des années 1960, il faisait partie de l’équipe qui travailla sur l’affaire NUMEC, permettant le rapatriement d’une grosse quantité d’uranium enrichi. Ce qui montre au passage que le Lakam n’était pas sans contact avec le Mossad, comme on l’a dit par la suite.

Dans les années 1970, Eitan devint directeur adjoint des opérations du Mossad. C’était un petit homme myope et presque sourd d’une oreille, mais il ne fallait pas se fier à son allure. John Le Carré prit Eitan comme modèle pour son personnage de Marty Kurtz dans La Petite Fille au tambour, qui traque sans relâche les terroristes palestiniens.

En 1976, Eitan quitta le Mossad pour travailler auprès de son ami Ariel Sharon, devenu conseiller de Rabin pour les affaires de sécurité. Puis il partit dans le privé, où il s’ennuya ferme. C’est pourquoi il accepta bien volontiers en 1978 de devenir conseiller antiterrorisme du Premier ministre Begin, à l’instigation de son mentor Sharon.

Et il sauta en 1981 sur l’opportunité de diriger le Lakam. Il avait conservé avec lui un fichier de sources et de sayanim du Mossad en territoire américain, pensant que certains noms pourraient lui être utiles.

Parmi eux, un certain Jonathan Pollard, analyste du renseignement naval, affecté au centre antiterroriste de Suitland dans le Maryland. Pollard était un Juif militant, choqué de voir que le renseignement américain ne partageait pas toutes ses informations sur le Moyen-Orient avec le Mossad.

Il avait commencé à fournir des copies de rapports d’une grande valeur. Après plusieurs mois de production, le Mossad avait décidé de laisser cette source “en jachère” pour ne pas l’exposer inutilement. Eitan saisit l’occasion de la réactiver, dans un premier temps pour sa plus grande satisfaction, sans savoir que Pollard allait le mener à perdre son poste quelques années plus tard.
(…)

Quelques jours plus tard, au Nouvel An 1983, un ou des cambrioleurs pénétraient dans les entrepôts et les bureaux de Milco et saisissaient les ordinateurs. Smyth ne put que déclarer l’effraction et répondre aux questions du FBI. Très effrayé par ce qui était en train de se passer, il mentionna les krytrons et le fait qu’il avait peut-être commis une erreur involontaire en les expédiant.

Il tenta ensuite de joindre Milchan, qui ne répondit pas. Le Lakam était déjà passé en mode “contrôle des dommages” et Milchan avait instruction de ne plus parler à Smyth. Le FBI ne tarda pas à mettre la main sur l’auteur du cambriolage, un adolescent qui avait stocké le produit de son larcin dans le garage de ses parents. Mais cela ne mettait pas un point final à l’affaire.

Désormais le FBI s’intéressait de très près aux produits commercialisés par Milco, et resserrait son étreinte sur Smyth et son épouse, également salariée de la société. Pendant ce temps, Milchan avait cessé toute commande, et la société n’enregistrait plus aucune entrée de fonds.

Début 1985, Smyth était dans le collimateur de la justice américaine, qui avait obtenu la preuve des précédentes demandes de licence d’exportation de Milco pour des krytrons. Smyth ne pouvait donc plus prétendre avoir agi par ignorance des règles. Milco était la première victime d’un programme d’action des douanes, ironiquement baptisé opération “Exodus”, pour mettre fin à l’exportation de technologies duales.

Sur le point d’être inculpé, Smyth s’envola avec sa famille. Ils arrivèrent en Israël comme touristes, alors que la presse américaine annonçait son inculpation. Sa présence sur le sol israélien devenait embarrassante. Il était temps de passer au niveau politique pour mettre fin à l’affaire. Des représentants du gouvernement israélien expliquèrent à l’administration Reagan que les krytrons acquis par Israël avaient servi pour des applications militaires classiques, autrement dit non nucléaires. En toute bonne foi, Israël proposait de restituer ceux qui n’avaient pas été utilisés, ce qui fut fait.

Presque au même moment, Shimon Peres recevait la visite officieuse d’un conseiller de Ronald Reagan, qui sollicitait son aide pour obtenir de l’Iran la libération d’otages américains retenus au Liban. C’était le début de l’affaire “Iran-Contra”, dans laquelle Israël vendit des armes à l’Iran dans l’espoir d’obtenir des libérations d’otages. Milchan n’y prit aucune part, son adversaire Nimrodi ayant préempté le marché afin de rétablir sa position en Iran.

Ce que l’on peut en revanche observer, c’est qu’à partir de ce moment où l’administration Reagan sollicitait les Israéliens pour une mission clandestine des plus délicates, il ne fut plus question d’Arnon Milchan et des activités occultes du Lakam. De retour en Californie, Smyth dut en revanche affronter la perspective d’un procès des plus sévères : il encourait jusqu’à cent cinq ans de prison !

Entretemps, en novembre 1985, le public américain avait appris l’arrestation par le FBI d’un espion au service d’Israël : Jonathan Pollard, une affaire qui allait grossir jusqu’à devenir l’une des plus grandes crises entre Israël et les Etats-Unis. On commençait alors dans les médias à parler du Lakam. Le couple Smyth décida à cette époque de s’enfuir pour de bon, et partit s’installer en Suisse, avant d’emménager en 1986 dans la station balnéaire espagnole de Malaga.

C’est là qu’il devait être retrouvé par la justice américaine en juin 2001, pour une raison des plus banales: ayant atteint l’âge de 65 ans, et presque à bout de ressources, Smyth s’était risqué à faire valoir ses droits à la retraite auprès de la sécurité sociale américaine, calculant que l’énorme machine administrative ne ferait pas le lien avec un fugitif. Il avait tort.

Vingt ans après les faits qui lui étaient reprochés, Smyth fut donc arrêté et extradé vers les Etats-Unis. La justice le condamna à une peine de quarante mois de prison. Il fut libéré et mis en probation en 2005, et totalement libre en 2006.

Il serait raisonnable de penser que pendant toute cette affaire, ou du moins la période la plus chaude, entre 1983 et 1985, Arnon Milchan fit profil bas dans le monde des affaires et évita de visiter les Etats-Unis. Il n’en est rien. Dans les années 1980, le toujours hyperactif et insatiable Arnon Milchan ajouta une corde à son arc: après quelques investissements ponctuels dans le cinéma, il aspirait à devenir un producteur à part entière. Bien entendu, il ne pouvait pour cela faire valoir aucune expérience sérieuse du métier.

L’histoire d’Hollywood est d’une certaine manière celle d’un gouffre financier qui a vu défiler nombre de gogos richissimes, éblouis par ce monde de stars et d’illusion. Dans les seules années 1980, Sony (acquéreur de Columbia) et le Crédit lyonnais (dans l’affaire MGM) ont payé pour apprendre qu’un investissement dans un studio hollywoodien est rarement rentable et qu’on s’y fait plumer plus souvent qu’à son tour, avec le sourire. C’est dire si l’arrivée d’Arnon Milchan dans la Mecque du cinéma provoqua des ricanements, du moins chez ceux qui prirent la peine de l’écouter.

Néanmoins, avec la même détermination qu’il avait mis à apprendre le business des armes, l’entrepreneur décida de se réinventer une nouvelle fois comme producteur. Il n’est pas possible de livrer ici le détail de cette odyssée, que l’on trouvera dans sa biographie officielle. Le démarrage fut chaotique, mais témoigna d’une certaine qualité de jugement cinéphilique: Martin Scorsese (The King of Comedy, 1983), Sergio Leone (Il était une fois en Amérique, 1984) et Terry Gilliam (Brazil, 1985).

Trois fortes personnalités, trois tournages catastrophiques (dont le dernier se solda par un conflit ouvert avec le studio chargé de distribuer le film), mais à l’arrivée au moins deux films cultes.

A l’issue de cette première séquence qui aurait pu tuer la plupart des producteurs expérimentés, Arnon Milchan reconnut qu’il fallait peut-être devenir un peu plus grand public. Après quelques essais moyennement convaincants, il acheta pour une bouchée de pain un scénario qui avait été rejeté par presque tout Hollywood.

Et qui devint Pretty Woman, le “carton” de l’année 1990.

Depuis lors, plus personne ne ricane à Hollywood sur le passage d’Arnon Milchan, dont les productions naviguent entre le familial (les séries Sauvez Willy, Alvin et les Chipmunks, Fantastic Mr Fox), le film d’action (Under Siege, Mr & Ms Smith), le film de vampires et le polar haut de gamme (Heat, LA confidential).

Devenu une figure du Tout-Hollywood, Arnon arrive même à être en affaires simultanément avec des ennemis jurés comme Summer Redstone, le patron de Viacom, et Rupert Murdoch, le propriétaire de la Fox. En 1991, surfant sur la vague de Pretty Woman, il a créé son propre mini-studio, New Regency, en association avec Warner et Canal +, et une participation de Silvio Berlusconi. Le premier gros projet du studio a été JFK d’Oliver Stone. En 2011, New Regency a signé un nouveau partenariat avec le studio Fox, qui doit courir jusque 2022.

Arnon aurait-il entretemps abandonné ses autres activités? Pas davantage. Tout occupé qu’il était à monter New Regency en 1991, il a aussi trouvé le temps au début de la guerre du Golfe de négocier pour le ministère israélien de la Défense l’achat express de missiles Patriot pour faire pièce aux Scud que Saddam Hussein menaçait de lancer sur l’Etat hébreu. Et, depuis lors, il reste un intermédiaire privilégié pour l’industrie d’armement du monde entier.

Officiellement, le Lakam a été dissous après le scandale de l’affaire Pollard en 1985. Officieusement, il n’en continue pas moins ses activités sous un autre nom, partout dans le monde. Sauf aux Etats-Unis, affirme-t-on à Tel-Aviv. De son côté la famille Smyth essaie d’oublier toute cette affaire et vit avec de maigres ressources dans un camping-car en Californie.

Arnon Milchan, qui fréquente aussi bien Brad Pitt et Angelina Jolie que Shimon Peres et Benyamin Netanyahou, est de ceux qui ont permis à Israël de mener à bien son programme de recherche nucléaire. Mais il serait étonnant qu’il s’arrête là, à seulement 68 ans.
(…)

Voir de même:

Espion contre espion, l’Amérique contre Israël

Daniel Pipes

National Review Online

7 août 2012

Version originale anglaise: Spy vs. Spy, America vs. Israel

Adaptation française: Anne-Marie Delcambre de Champvert

Le fait que les Israéliens espionnent les Américains est de nouveau dans les journaux: les dirigeants de l’Etat juif viennent de faire une pétition pour la libération de Jonathan Pollard et l’Associated Press a rapporté avec inquiétude que les responsables de la sécurité nationale américaine, à certains moments, considèrent Israël comme «une menace authentique pour le contre-espionnage.» Le ton outragé adopté, le souffle presque coupé [d’indignation] laisse à penser: Comment osent-ils! Pour qui se prennent-ils?

Mais l’espionnage sur les alliés est normal, et c’est une voie à double sens. Avant de trop monter sur leurs grands chevaux, les Américains devraient se rendre compte que Washington n’est pas innocent. De Reagan à Obama, le gouvernement américain a effectué un travail massif d’espionnage contre Israël. Exemples:

Itamar Rabinovich, ambassadeur d’Israël à Washington, qui a révélé l’affaire des écoutes téléphoniques aux États-Unis.

Yosef Amit, ancien major du renseignement militaire israélien, a espionné pour le compte de la CIA pendant plusieurs années, en se concentrant sur les mouvements de troupes et les politiques envers le Liban et les Palestiniens, jusqu’à son arrestation en 1986.

Un sous-marin mystérieux dans les eaux territoriales israéliennes à 17kms 50 de Haïfa, en novembre 2004, qui a fui lorsqu’il a été découvert, s’est avéré être américain, ce qui ravive le souvenir de la mission secrète du navire USS Liberty en juin 1967.

Yossi Melman, un journaliste israélien spécialisé dans le renseignement, a trouvé que les attachés militaires américains à Tel-Aviv avaient recueilli des informations secrètes; des responsables israéliens, révèle-t-il, pensent que les services américains de renseignement ont été l’écoute des conversations entre le personnel clé en Israël et celui dans les missions étrangères. L’espionnage américain, conclut-il, a exposé des «secrets de la politique la plus cachée d’Israël.»

Une histoire officielle des services de renseignements d’Israël, publiée en 2008 a révélé (tel que rapporté par Reuters) que les agences d’espionnage américaines utilisaient l’ambassade à Tel-Aviv pour se livrer à l’espionnage électronique et former un personnel d’ambassade pour «la collecte méthodique de renseignements»

Barak Ben-Zur, un officier retraité du renseignement Shin Bet[le shabak ; agence de contre-espionnage israélienne, pour la sécurité intérieure d’Israël (NDLT)], a écrit dans ce même volume que «Les Etats-Unis ont été à l’affût des capacités non conventionnelles d’Israël et de ce qui se passe aux échelons de prise de décision. »

Un mémorandum secret de 5000 mots du 31 octobre 2008 (publié par Wikileaks), envoyé sous le nom de la Secrétaire d’Etat américaine Condoleezza Rice, a répertorié les sujets sur lesquels l’État voulait des informations. La très longue liste comprend des renseignements sur «le processus décisionnel d’Israël pour le lancement des opérations militaires et la détermination de représailles pour des attaques terroristes», «la preuve de l’implication du gouvernement d’Israël dans «l’établissement des colonies et leur croissance» en Cisjordanie; les détails sur les opérations de Forces de défense israéliennes contre le Hamas, «y compris les assassinats ciblés et les tactiques/techniques utilisées par les unités aériennes et au sol»; et toutes les choses sur les technologies d’information qui sont utilisées par «les autorités gouvernementales et militaires, les services du renseignement et de sécurité»;

La National Security Agency (l’Agence de Sécurité nationale) emploie un grand nombre de gens parlant hébreu à Fort Meade, dans les quartiers généraux du siège de Maryland, où ils écoutent pour intercepter les communications israéliennes. Les problèmes juridiques en 2009 de l’un des leurs, Shamai K. Leibowitz., au sujet de la fuite d’informations, a révélé qu’il avait traduit en hébreu des conversations à l’ambassade israélienne à Washington en anglais, confirmant parfaitement ce que révèle Rabinovich.

Les observateurs en ont tiré la conclusion évidente: «Yitzhak Rabin, deux fois Premier ministre a commenté, -pour paraphraser Caroline Glick -, qu’ «il ne se passe pas d’années qu’Israël ne découvre encore un agent américain faisant de l’espionnage contre l’Etat.» Un agent du contre -espionnage israélien note que les Américains « tentent de nous espionner tout le temps et toutes les manières possibles.» Matthieu M.Aid , l’auteur américain de la Guerre des «Intel»(2012), constate que Washington «a commencé l’espionnage sur Israël avant même que l’Etat d’Israël n’ait été officiellement fondé en 1948, et Israël a toujours espionné sur nous.»

Comme Aid le note, l’espionnage est réciproque. Il y a plus: cela a été la routine, un fait connu et accepté implicitement par les deux parties. De même ce n’est pas très inquiétant, car ces alliés ont beaucoup en commun, depuis les valeurs morales jusqu’aux ennemis idéologiques, et ils travaillent souvent en tandem. De là l’espionnage mutuel a peu de graves conséquences.

Pourquoi alors espionner? Pourquoi ne pas inviter Israël à la communauté anglophone five eyes , un groupement qui promet de ne pas s’espionner les uns des autres? Parce qu’Israël est en guerre. Comme Ben-Zur de l’agence Shin Bet le dit, «En fin de compte, les États-Unis ne veulent pas être surpris. Même par nous. » Ni, d’ailleurs, les Israéliens non plus ne veulent pas être surpris. Même par les Américains.

Donc, soyons adultes à ce sujet et calmons-nous. Espionner les Etats, même les alliés. Ce n’est pas grave.

Voir encore:

The Jonathan Pollard Spy Case: The CIA’s 1987 Damage Assessment Declassified

New Details on What Secrets Israel Asked Pollard to Steal

CIA Withholding Overturned on Appeal by National Security Archive

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 407

December 14, 2012

UPDATED January 9, 2013

Edited by Jeffrey T. Richelson

Washington, DC, December 14, 2012 – When Naval Investigative Service analyst Jonathan Pollard spied for Israel in 1984 and 1985, his Israeli handlers asked primarily for nuclear, military and technical information on the Arab states, Pakistan, and the Soviet Union – not on the United States – according to the newly-declassified CIA 1987 damage assessment of the Pollard case, published today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (www.nsarchive.org).

The damage assessment includes new details on the specific subjects and documents sought by Pollard’s Israeli handlers (pages 36-43), such as Syrian drones and central communications, Egyptian missile programs, and Soviet air defenses. The Israelis specifically asked for a signals intelligence manual that they needed to listen in on Soviet advisers in Syria. The document describes how Pollard’s handler, Joseph Yagur, told him to ignore a request, from Yagur’s boss, for U.S. « dirt » on senior Israeli officials and told Pollard that gathering such information would terminate the operation (page 38).

Under the heading « What the Israelis Did Not Ask For, » the assessment remarks (page 43) that they « never expressed interest in US military activities, plans, capabilities, or equipment. »

The assessment also notes that Pollard volunteered delivery of three daily intelligence summaries that had not been requested by his handlers, but which proved useful to them, and ultimately handed over roughly 1,500 such messages from the Middle East and North Africa Summary (MENAS), the Mediterranean Littoral Intelligence Summary (MELOS), and the Indian Ocean Littoral Intelligence Summary, in addition to the more than 800 compromised documents on other subjects that Pollard delivered to the Israelis in suitcases.

The damage assessment also features a detailed 21-page chronology of Pollard’s personal life and professional career, including his work for the Israelis, highlighting more than a dozen examples of unusual behavior by Pollard that the CIA suggests should have, in retrospect, alerted his supervisors that he was a security risk. Prominent on the list were false statements by Pollard during a 1980 assignment with Task Force 168, the naval intelligence element responsible for HUMINT collection. Pollard is now serving a life sentence in prison for espionage.

The CIA denied release of most of the Pollard damage assessment in 2006, claiming for example that pages 18 through 165 were classified in their entirety and not a line of those pages could be released. The Archive appealed the CIA’s decision to the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, established by President Clinton in 1995 and continued by Presidents Bush and Obama. The ISCAP showed its value yet again as a check on systemic overclassification by ordering release of scores of pages from the Pollard damage assessment that were previously withheld by CIA, and published today for the first time.

Today’s posting, edited by Archive senior fellow Jeffrey T. Richelson, includes more than a dozen other declassified documents on the Pollard case, such as the Defense Intelligence Agency biographic sketch of Pollard’s initial Israeli handler, Col. Aviam Sella. Among many other books and articles, Richelson is the author of The U.S. Intelligence Community (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2011, 6th edition), which the Washington Post called « the authoritative survey of the American cloak-and-dagger establishment. »

Jonathan Pollard: Fantasist and Spy

By Jeffrey T. Richelson

Nineteen-eighty-five became known as the « Year of the Spy » in the United States after a series of arrests and one defection revealed several serious penetrations of the U.S. intelligence and defense establishments by foreign intelligence services. On November 22, Larry Wu-Tai Chin, a long-time CIA employee, was taken into custody by the FBI and accused of spying for the People’s Republic of China. Two days later, former National Security Agency employee Ronald Pelton was arrested and charged with having provided the Soviet Union with details of five signals intelligence operations. Those arrests followed the apprehension, in May, of a former member of the U.S. Navy, John A. Walker, Jr., who had started turning over highly-secret documents to the KGB in 1968. And in September, before he could be arrested, former CIA officer Edward Lee Howard absconded to Moscow.1

But no arrest was more stunning than that of Jonathan J. Pollard, a thirty-one year old analyst for the Navy’s Anti-Terrorist Alert Center (ATAC). Pollard was detained on November 21, after a futile attempt to gain access to the Washington, D.C. embassy of Israel – to one of whose intelligence services, the Scientific Liaison Bureau (LAKAM), he had been delivering a vast assortment of documents. News of Pollard’s arrest was not the first time that the issue of Israeli intelligence activities directed against U.S. targets had been in the press. That subject had been the subject of press coverage several years earlier after the CIA’s study of the organization and operations of Israel’s intelligence and security services (Document 1) had become public, after it had been recovered from the U.S. embassy in Tehran during the November 4, 1979 takeover.2

The outlines of Pollard’s personal and professional life, as well as details of the nature of the material he turned over to Israel became the subject of both newspaper and magazine reports, books, and official, sometimes heavily redacted, internal documents (Document 3, Document 13) as well as declarations prepared for the court by both the government and defense in aid of sentencing (Document 7a, Document 8a, Document 10). Both official and media reports indicated that Pollard had first expressed his willingness to provide Israel with highly-classified documents during a late May 1984 meeting with Israeli Air Force officer Aviam Sella (Document 2a, Document 2b, Document 11). Until his arrest, Pollard delivered approximately 800 documents, many of which were classified top secret or codeword. In addition, he stole an estimated 1,500 current intelligence summary messages.3

The documents provided information on PLO headquarters in Tunisia; specific capabilities of Tunisian and Libyan air defense systems; Iraqi and Syrian chemical warfare productions capabilities (including detailed satellite imagery); Soviet arms shipments to Syria and other Arab states; naval forces, port facilities, and lines of communication of various Middle Eastern and North African countries; the MiG-29 fighter; and Pakistan’s nuclear program. Also included was a U.S. assessment of Israeli military capabilities.4

Pollard’s disclosures were alarming to U.S. officials for several reasons, some of which were noted in their official declarations (Document 7a, Document 10) – some of which were direct responses (Document 9) to claims and analysis made by Pollard in his sentencing memorandums (Document 6, Document 8b). One, despite the fact that both the U.S. and Israeli considered each other legitimate intelligence targets, was Israel’s willingness to run a human penetration operation directed at the U.S. government. Another, was the damage to the intelligence sharing arrangement with Israel – since its acquisition of material from Pollard weakened the U.S. position vis-a-vis intelligence exchanges with Israel. In addition, there was no guarantee that such documents, revealing both sources and methods as well as assessments, would not find their way to the Soviet Union via a Soviet penetration of the Israeli intelligence or defense community – as had happened with a number of other allies. Further, since Israel was a target of U.S. intelligence collection – particularly technical collection – operations, the documents could be used by Israeli counterintelligence and security organizations to help Israel neutralize or degrade U.S. collection operations.

Of all the spy cases from 1985, the Pollard case has been the one that has had the longest life in terms of media coverage – in part because of efforts, both by private citizens and the Israeli government to have his life sentence commuted. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s 1993 appeal to President Bill Clinton resulted in a letter from defense secretary Les Aspin expressing his opposition and stressing three points: the requirement to maintain control over the disclosure of intelligence to foreign governments, the damage done by Pollard’s disclosures, and Pollard’s alleged inclusion of classified information in letters from prison. In 1998, in an attempt to facilitate his release, the Israeli government publically acknowledged (Document 15). Pollard’s role as an Israeli asset. And, former Director of Central Intelligence, George J. Tenet reports that the subject was raised by the Israeli government in 2006, and he threatened to resign if Pollard was released. As recently as January 2011, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked President Barack Obama, without success, to free Pollard.5

Relevant to that debate and as well as the historical record are the specifics of the Pollard’s professional career, what he compromised, and the assessment of the damage from the compromised material. While some of that information has been disclosed, either officially or unofficially, much of the official record has been redacted from released documents. The recent release of a significantly less-redacted copy of the damage assessment performed by the DCI’s Foreign Denial and Deception Analysis Committee (Document 13b) thus, even if it has no impact on views concerning Pollard’s fate, adds significantly to the historical record concerning his activities.

Among the specific items of note in the newly released assessment are an account of Pollard’s claim (p. I-18) upon his late arrival for an interview, that he spent the weekend rescuing his wife from the Irish Republican Army after they had kidnaped her. Pollard’s connection with a naval intelligence unit, Task Force-168, responsible for human intelligence activities is also among the topics discussed in the damage assessment. The committee’s report also provides new insight to exactly what information the Israelis wanted and why – as well as what information they did not want (pp. 38-46), including U.S. capabilities or plans. With regard to Syria, for example, Pollard was requested to provide documents concerning a suspected research and development facility, an electronics intelligence (ELINT) system, remotely piloted vehicles, a national command, control, and communications center in Damascus, Syrian military units with attached Soviet advisors, and medical intelligence on Syrian president Hafiz al-Assad. A common denominator for Israeli requests concerning Syria and other countries was the predominant focus on military intelligence relevant to Israeli security.

The study also describes (on p. 38) an incident involving LAKAM chief Rafi Eitan, in which he requested documents or information from Pollard on a variety of topics. According to Pollard, his case officer, standing behind Pollard, shook his head « no » in response to many of Eitan’s requests – including those for information on the PLO’s Force 17, CIA psychological studies or other intelligence containing ‘dirt’ on senior Israeli officials, as well as information identifying the « rats » in Israel (by which he apparently meant Israelis who provided information to the United States).

The study also reports (p. 60) on Israeli use of the NSA’s RASIN (Radio Signal Notation) manual, which was requested on at least two occasions, in assisting its monitoring of a communications link between the Soviet General Staff and the Soviet military assistance group in Damascus.

Voir aussi:

Don’t Free Jonathan Pollard

A man who betrayed his country is no martyr to the Jewish people.

Bret Stephens

The WSJ

March 18, 2013

There are a few things I’d like to hear Barack Obama say on his trip this week to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan.

I’d like to hear him go beyond the bromides about « having Israel’s back » and « not bluffing » about Iran’s nuclear ambitions to spell out a U.S. timetable and a U.S. red line. I’d especially like to hear the president say the U.S. is not interested in a diplomatic settlement that solves the immediate nuclear crisis but allows Iran to retain and expand its nuclear-industrial base.

Keeping Iran from sprinting to a single bomb now so that it can amble toward 50 bombs once Mr. Obama is out of office is not a policy worthy of any American presidency.

I’d also like to hear the president tell Palestinians during his visit to Bethlehem that what really stands between them and a state isn’t Israel or its settlements. Israel dismantled its settlements in Sinai for the sake of peace with Egypt, and dismantled them again in Gaza in the interests of disengaging from the restive coastal strip. Most Israelis would gladly do so again for the sake of a real peace with the Palestinians.

But Israelis can have no confidence in such a peace so long as Palestinians elect Hamas to power, cheer the rocketing of Israeli cities, insist on a « right of return » to Tel Aviv and Haifa, play charades at the U.N., refuse to negotiate directly with Israel, and raise their children on a diet of anti-Semitic slurs. In his 2009 speech in Cairo, Mr. Obama spoke the truth about the Arab world’s Holocaust denial. He shouldn’t deprive his Palestinian audience of a similar dose of truth-telling, least of all in Bethlehem.

Finally, I’d like to hear Mr. Obama tell Jordan’s King Abdullah that the U.S. will back the Hashemite kingdom to the hilt.

Right now, the king is dealing with a long-running financial crisis, the influx of more than 300,000 refugees from Syria, diminishing political support from tribal sheiks, and an assertive Muslim Brotherhood that smells political blood. If the king falls, the U.S. loses an ally, the Arab world loses a moderate, Israel loses a secure border, and a contest for power erupts in which all the outcomes are bad. U.S. assistance to Jordan came to $736 million last year. It’s cheap at five times the price.

But here’s something I don’t want to hear from Mr. Obama, especially not when he’s in Israel: that he has agreed to release former Navy intelligence analyst and convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.

Not that such a gesture wouldn’t go down well in Israel and with much of the U.S. Jewish community. As of this week, 175,000 Israelis have signed a petition calling for Pollard’s release. Israeli President Shimon Peres intends to raise the subject personally with Mr. Obama; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a formal request for the spy’s freedom two years ago.

Also true is that there is a humanitarian case to be made for Pollard’s release. He has now served 28 years of a life sentence, which comes to nearly half his life, and he is said to be in failing health. Compare that with the seven years served by Robert Kim, another Navy analyst who spied for another friendly country, in his case South Korea.

Yet whatever the humanitarian interest in freeing Pollard, it must be weighed against other interests, American as well as Israeli.

Regarding the Israeli interest: It does not help Israel to make a hero of a compulsive liar and braggart, fond of cocaine, who violated his oaths, spied on his country, inflicted damage that took billions of dollars to repair, accepted payment for his spying, jeopardized Israel’s relationship with its closest ally, failed to show remorse at the time of his sentencing, made himself into Exhibit A of every anti-Semitic conspiracy nut, and then had the chutzpah to call himself a martyr to the Jewish people.

Nor does Israel do itself any favors by making Pollard’s case a matter of national interest, and therefore a chip to be played against other concessions. As Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin has noted, « That a man who claimed his crime was committed to enhance the Jewish state’s security would have his freedom bought with concessions on territory or settlements that undermine the country’s ability to defend itself must be considered a bitter irony. » All the more so given that it’s right-wing Israelis who have been most outspoken on Pollard’s behalf.

Regarding the American interest: What’s inequitable about Pollard’s sentence isn’t that his is too heavy. It’s that the sentences of spies such as Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen and Robert Kim have been too light. Particularly in the age of digital downloads, WikiLeaks and self-appointed transparency crusaders, the U.S. needs to make harsh examples of those who betray its secrets. That goes especially for those who spy on behalf of friendly countries or, as Bradley Manning imagined, in the ostensible interests of humanity at large.

Nations are rightly judged by their choice of heroes. Israel has plenty of worthy heroes, yet today there’s a square in Jerusalem named for Pollard. So here’s something else I’d like Mr. Obama to do while he’s in Israel: Insist that the square be renamed. Maybe then, in a quieter hour and without regard to diplomacy or politics, can Jonathan Pollard’s fate be reconsidered in a purely humanitarian light.

Voir encore:

 A Postscript on Pollard

A spy who betrayed his country and his people is nobody’s hero.

Bret Stephens

The WSJ

March 25, 2013

What is the essence of a diseased politics? When the fringe captures and brands the center, rather than the other way around.

You can think of any number of examples of the phenomenon, from the disarmament obsessives (including the young Barack Obama) who made the Democratic Party unfit to hold the presidency throughout the second half of the Cold War, to the anti-immigration obsessives who are doing likewise to the Republican Party today.

What’s true about American politics writ large goes also for any number of political causes writ small. I was reminded of this on Monday when I was abruptly disinvited from delivering a keynote to a charitable pro-Israel organization for the sin of opposing, in my last column, the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.

And that was just the icing on the blizzard of opprobrium— »scurrilous, » « unbelievable, » « arrogant and callous, » « it is anti-Semitic not to free him, » and so on—that piled into my inbox from people whose most fervent political identity is their support for Israel. One writer named Giulio Meotti went so far as to accuse me of committing not one, but two, « blood libels » against Pollard. I last heard from Mr. Meotti a few months ago when he apologized for plagiarizing from an old column of mine. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

Two points need making here.

The first is a refresher course on who Pollard was and what he did. According to a recently declassified CIA damage assessment report (which Pollard supporters mistakenly claim vindicates him), he was an emotionally disturbed individual who lied to his superiors about his academic and professional qualifications, « disclosed classified information to the South African [defense] attache without authorization, » and on one occasion as a student « waved a pistol in the air and screamed that everyone was out to get him. » He also once claimed that his wife had been kidnapped by the IRA.

In short, he was a nut.

It was intelligence that was meant to help Israel, not harm the United States. But he also handed over « three daily intelligence summaries, prepared by the National Security Agency and Naval Intelligence, » amounting to some 1,500 messages in all. More damagingly, he handed over the NSA’s « Radio Signal Notation » manual, which helped Israel listen in on Soviet-Syrian radio traffic but also cost the U.S. billions of dollars to replace.

« In terms of the sheer quantity of identified intelligence stolen over a limited period, » the CIA concluded, « Pollard’s operation has few parallels among known U.S. espionage cases. »

Perhaps that—and not the preposterous suggestion that a self-confessed spy is really the victim of a vast anti-Semitic conspiracy perpetrated at the highest levels of the Reagan administration—has something to do with the severity of Pollard’s sentence.

Nor did Pollard help himself by telling Wolf Blitzer, then a reporter with the Jerusalem Post, that he was a « master spy » and that his plea bargain was a « judicial crucifixion, » thereby expressing something other than the remorse typically expected of those seeking more lenient sentences. One example of chutzpah is the child who kills his parents and then pleads for mercy as an orphan. So is the spy who boasts of his deeds, denounces his prosecutors and then demands a lighter sentence from the judge.

The second point is the way in which Pollard’s advocates have gone about defending him. Pollard can be defended as a proud hero who gave Israel intelligence vital to its security at a time when U.S. policy was insufficiently friendly. Or he can be defended as a penitent fool who has now paid a heavy price for his criminal delusions of grandeur.

If it’s the former, the best way to vindicate his heroism is to accept the price that must be paid for it. If it’s the latter, the best his defenders could do is acknowledge the damage he and his Israeli handlers did—not only to U.S. intelligence, but to Israel’s reputation as an ally and to the honor of the American-Jewish community as a whole.

That so many of Pollard’s defenders have yet to do so is probably the single greatest impediment to his release. Nor can it help Pollard’s case that he would likely get a hero’s welcome should he ever be released to Israel. A nation that cannot recognize that wantonly committing espionage against its closest ally is an enduring source of shame, not pride, is one that has some serious soul-searching to do.

Israel’s leaders get this: Pleas for Pollard’s release by President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amount to an acknowledgment that he is the one paying the price for the Israeli government’s gross misjudgment.

But the people who really need to get it are the ones writing me infuriated letters and disinviting me from speeches. If they cannot admit that what Pollard did was damaging and despicable, they are lending a patina of credibility to some of the worst anti-Semitic canards. It’s one thing for a rogue agent to betray U.S. secrets; it’s another for a legion of defenders to rise up to justify his espionage.

The case for Israel in the U.S. has always rested on the fact that the values and interests of the two countries are compatible even if they are not identical. But that is true only so long as Israel and its advocates labor to maintain that compatibility. It is harder to think of a more efficient way to undo those labors than to defend the likes of Jonathan Pollard, the man who betrayed both his country and his people.

Voir enfin:

Pentagon Analyst Gets 12 Years for Disclosing Data

David Johnston

The NYT

January 20, 2006

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 – A federal judge sentenced a former Defense Department analyst, Lawrence A. Franklin, to more than 12 years in prison today after Mr. Franklin admitted passing classified military information to two pro-Israel lobbyists and an Israeli diplomat.

The sentence meted out to Mr. Franklin, 59, by Judge T. S. Ellis III in Federal District Court in Alexandria, Va., was at the low end of the federal sentencing guidelines. Judge Ellis said at the hearing that he believed Mr. Franklin was motivated by a desire to help the United States, not to damage it.

Mr. Franklin’s sentence, which included a fine of $10,000, was the first victory for the government in a case in which prosecutors have also indicted the two lobbyists with whom he shared classified information. The charges against Mr. Franklin and the two lobbyists are offenses under the Espionage Act, but none of the men have been accused of spying.

The lobbyists, Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, were senior staff members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, a pro-Israel lobbying organization with close relationships to officials in the Bush administration.

The case is unusual because of the charges against the lobbyists, who did not hold security clearances, were not government employees or representatives of a foreign government. They operated in a small circle of lobbyists who have commonly traded gossip and inside information with administration officials, Congressional aides and journalists.

Before his sentencing, Mr. Franklin pleaded guilty to three felony counts for improperly retaining and disclosing classified information in exchange for his cooperation and the government’s willingness to drop three other charges against him. He will not have to begin serving his sentence until after the completion of legal proceedings against Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman, who are scheduled to go on trial in April. That could lead prosecutors to agree to seek a reduction in Mr. Franklin’s sentence, government official said.

Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman were charged in an indictment in August 2005 with conspiring to gather and disclose classified national security information to journalists and an unnamed foreign power that government officials identified as Israel. Aipac dismissed the two men in April 2005.

The indictment said the two men had disclosed classified information about a number of subjects, including American policy in Iran, terrorism in central Asia, Al Qaeda and the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers apartment in Saudi Arabia, which killed 23 Americans, mainly members of the military. Lawyers for the two men have sought to have the indictment against them dismissed.

As Aipac’s director of foreign policy issues, Mr. Rosen was a well-known figure in Washington who helped the organization define its lobbying agenda on the Middle East and forged important relationships with powerful conservatives in the Bush administration. Mr. Weissman was a senior Middle East analyst. Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman have denied any wrongdoing.

Mr. Franklin, who was regarded as an Iran expert, was among Bush administration conservatives who had pushed for an aggressive policy towards Iran, including a more confrontational approach to restrain its nuclear program.

Mr. Franklin worked at the Pentagon for a time under Douglas Feith, a former undersecretary at the agency. Mr. Franklin has said he developed a relationship with the two lobbyists in the belief that they had access to officials a the National Security Council and could communicate his views to senior officials there.

In addition to his meetings with the lobbyists, the government charged, Mr. Franklin also met with an Israeli embassy official and passed on secret military information about weapons tests in the Middle East and military activities in Iraq. He contended that the information was already known to the Israelis and that he obtained far more information than he gave away.


Sport: Les sionistes ont même inventé le panier à trois points ! (Harlem Globetrotters and three-pointers: Is there anything the zionists haven’t invented ?)

27 mars, 2013
https://i0.wp.com/www.canada.com/8030387.binSéoul est à une cinquantaine de kilomètres de la frontière. Ils ne sont même pas obligés de viser juste ! Pierre Rigoulot
I think it’s ridiculous. I think that if you’re going to meet someone with the record on human rights, and nuclear testing in a reckless way, counterfeiting U.S. dollars, and exporting a horrible brand of whatever it is that he’s exporting, starving his people, and locking them up, it should be done only in conjunction with the State Department with an agenda. If not, you shouldn’t go. (…) it was the burden of somebody to try to educate Dennis a little bit so he doesn’t come back and say, ‘the dude is really cool. His father was great. His grandfather was great. And really why doesn’t the President just give him a buzz? David Stern (NBA commissioner)
Le peuple juif a été l’historien, le jurisconsulte, le sage, le poète de l’humanité. Lacordaire

Superhéros, Hollywoodchants de Noël, Amériquesoft power,  dix commandements, génocide

Y a-t-il une chose que les sionistes n’aient pas inventé ?

Alors que malgré les énièmes annonces de sanctions le dernier goulag à ciel ouvert continue, avec le soutien cynique de la Chine, à martyriser et affamer sa population et s’est remis à menacer le monde

Pendant que, dans nos chaumières, on joue à légender la photo du tortionnaire

Et qu’après le pape lui-même, nos amuseurs publics en sont à faire ami-ami avec lui …

Retour, en ces jours où nos amis juifs commémorent leur expulsion des goulags égyptiens, sur l’homme qui, inventant au passage le tir à trois points, lança le basket ball noir …

A savoir le juif américain Abraham (Abe) Saperstein

A Small Man with a Large Legacy: Abe Saperstein and the Harlem Globetrotters (VIDEO)

Jspace Staff

3/15/2013

You’re born in England where they hardly play the sport. You’re Jewish. You’re just north of five feet tall. Chances are you’re not going to make it into the basketball Hall of Fame. Yet Abe Saperstein, who was all these things, did just that. Saperstein saw a chance and he took it. In so doing, the unlikely hall of famer changed basketball forever.

Saperstein was born in London in 1902. When Abe was six, his father moved the family to America and opened a tailor shop in a mainly Irish and German neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side. The Sapersteins were the only Jewish family in the area. Young Saperstein threw himself into sports, running track and playing baseball and basketball through high school. By the time he reached college, however, his lack of height caught up with him. He was considered too short to play in basketball at the University of Illinois, and failed to make the team.

Saperstein dropped out of college and started work as a playground supervisor for the Chicago public parks system. He was assigned a job at a small park on the predominantly African-American South Side of Chicago. Ever the sport fan, Saperstein would watch basketball games in the park. Impressed by what he saw, he had an idea. Saperstein would assemble a great basketball team from the black community.

It was 1926. Basketball was a relatively new sport without a clearly defined niche. Exhibition games were often used to promote other events, a warm-up for the main attraction. Saperstein took an interest in a team of black basketball players named the Savoy Big Five, who played before dances at the Savoy dancehall in Chicago. When they didn’t attract enough people to the club, and were replaced by roller-skating after a month, Saperstein had a plan.

He was going to form an all-black team that would wow the crowds. His team would be the main event. To achieve this, Saperstein appreciated the power of branding. He believed that an out of state team would hold more allure. He figured nowhere was more glamorous than New York City. So Saperstein asked his tailor father to design uniforms with « New York » on the front, and a new team was born.

On January 7, 1927, Saperstein’s new team played its first game in Hinckley, Illinois. They won—as they would 100 of their first 106 games. Yet despite the team’s abundant talent, Saperstein noticed that Midwestern audiences were more intrigued by the players’ skin color than their skills. It was the first time that many in the crowd had seen a black person. Again, Saperstein saw a chance. He decided to use this curiosity to his team’s advantage and to rename the team to clearly advertise the players as black. Nowhere was more famously black than Harlem, so Harlem it was. Keen to suggest that the team was world-famous and toured widely, Saperstein added “Globetrotters.”

The team’s early years were anything but glamorous. Saperstein would drive all five players from game to game in his Model T. He served as the team’s manager, coach, chauffeur and substitute. In the 1920’s, the team earned approximately $25 a game, which Saperstein split seven ways. Each of the five players received one seventh, and he received two sevenths. The team played seven nights a week to earn enough to survive, driving around the Midwest to play anyone and anywhere they could.

The Globetrotters were itinerant workers, a cross between Lenny and George from “Of Mice and Men” and a struggling college band on a self-financed tour. They played lumberjacks in British Columbia and farmers in Iowa. And they almost always won. By 1934, they had won over 1,000 games. But the team didn’t just beat their opponents on points; they played a whole different style of basketball. The white teams played a stricter, more structured game. Globetrotter basketball was more like jazz—a freer game, where structure was simply a start point from which to improvise.

Although this was the jazz age, it was also the days of the Jim Crow laws. The team faced racism on a daily basis. Children would rub their skin to see if the color would come off. Racist laws enforced strict separation: the players were barred from eating at certain restaurants and sleeping at “white” hotels. Once, when the team played in a Nebraska town that only had “white hotels” the team had to sleep in the county jail.

It is unclear how forcefully Saperstein fought against discrimination on behalf of his black players. It is clear that he was not always popular with the team. In 1939, four players refused to play unless they received more of a say in team affairs; they accused Saperstein of being paternalistic. Rather than accede to their demands, he cut the players and replaced them with four rookies. Saperstein made it clear he was in charge.

On the court, however, the team was in control. Once they had assumed a big enough lead, the players would showboat. They would perform moves that many opposition players—never mind fans—had never seen before. They’d spin the ball on their fingers, run it down their arms, and pass it through their legs. Often, the crowd would respond with laughter. It seemed that white audiences would accept a black team if it was comedic.

By the early 1940’s, the team had moved on from small town arenas and was playing against other professional teams before larger audiences. They would often play against other ethnic teams, such as the New York Celtics. By the mid-1940’s, professional basketball leagues were established. The NBA was born in 1949 but it too was segregated. Black players were ghettoized to Negro leagues, as was the case in baseball. The rationale was that white people had their places to eat, sleep and play and black people had theirs. Meanwhile, the Globetrotters, who would play anywhere that would have them, had become one of the best-known sports teams in America.

As basketball grew in popularity, Saperstein realized there was great interest in how the Globetrotters would fare against an established, professional white team. So in 1948 he challenged the world-champion Minneapolis Lakers to a one-game, winner-takes-all contest. The two teams were evenly matched. In the final seconds with the scores tied, a Globetrotter made a 20-foot basket to decide the game. The team had proved it could compete against any other.

The team beat the Lakers again in a rematch in Chicago in 1949. By this time, the color barrier was being challenged. In 1947, Jackie Robinson had broken baseball’s color line. And in 1950, Earl Loyd became the first black man played in the NBA. A few days later, former Globetrotter Nat Clifton appeared for the New York Knicks. Clifton was the first black player to sign an NBA contract.

Clifton’s departure showed how basketball was changing. It also shed light on tension among the Globetrotters. Clifton had grown frustrated with Saperstein’s treatment, especially when he learned Saperstein was paying a team of touring white college all-stars more than his own Globetrotters. As there was gradual integration of black players into the NBA, there was more money to be made than Saperstein was offering. When the Knicks bought out Clifton’s contract, Saperstein claimed to take half of the $5,000 fee; later, however, Clifton learned that the Knicks paid $20,000. Saperstein was an uncompromising businessman. He may have wanted to do the right thing, but he wanted to get paid for it.

As basketball grew in popularity, so did the Globetrotters. They featured in movies screened around the world. The team achieved worldwide fame and in 1952, launched an international tour. The Globetrotters lived up to their name, travelling 52,000 miles in five months. They became a symbol of America, and the State Department named them “ambassadors of goodwill.”

Saperstein continued to have tense relationships with some of his players. In the mid-1950’s he lost two of the team’s biggest stars: Marques Haynes and Goose Tatum, who set up their own team. Saperstein failed to sign future hall of famer Bill Russell because he wouldn’t discuss contract terms with the black player instead of his white coach. But he did sign the legendary Wilt Chamberlain, who declared his year with the team was the most fun he had playing before he too left to join the NBA.

As the NBA grew and became more open to black players, the Globetrotters had to adapt. The team was no longer the refuge for disenfranchised black players; they could play in the NBA. Instead, its focus shifted toward comedy. Still, Saperstein took his role as coach seriously. He remained courtside into his 60’s having devoted his life to making the Harlem Globetrotters the best, and the best-known, basketball show on earth. When, in 1966, he died of a heart attack at the age of 63 he had achieved just that. By helping to break down doors, Abe Saperstein had as big an influence on the game of basketball as any other man in its history. He was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1971.

Voir aussi:

How basketball became three-dimensional

Jerry Crowe

The NY Times

May 06, 2008

Whenever a three-point basket brings a crowd to its feet or swings the momentum in a basketball game, Bill Sharman remembers an old friend.

Abe Saperstein, an energetic promoter best remembered as the founder of the Harlem Globetrotters, introduced the three-point shot to professional basketball as founder of the short-lived American Basketball League, which launched in 1961, crowned only one champion and lasted barely 1 1/2 seasons.

Saperstein, however, did not unveil the innovation that would revolutionize the sport, Sharman says, until first consulting with Sharman and eliciting an enthusiastic thumbs up from the former USC and Boston Celtics star, one of the NBA’s first great shooting guards and an unflinching proponent.

« I thought it was great because I was an outside shooter, » the 81-year-old former Lakers coach said during an interview at his home in Redondo Beach. « He thought it was going to be as popular as the home run. »

Saperstein and Sharman first met when the USC All-American played for a college all-star team that toured with the Globetrotters after the 1949-50 season.

Their friendship grew during Sharman’s 11-year NBA career, when NBA teams and the Globetrotters often paired for attendance-boosting doubleheaders and, in the last half of Sharman’s career, the Celtics were the NBA’s best team.

« We were close, » Sharman said.

So Sharman heard all about it when Saperstein was denied an NBA franchise in Los Angeles, as he believed he’d been promised after helping prop up the league, and owner Bob Short instead moved the Lakers from Minneapolis.

An angry Saperstein reacted by starting his own league, enlisting help from a group of others that included a young George Steinbrenner, owner of the Amateur Athletic Union national champion Cleveland Pipers.

Sharman, an eight-time NBA All-Star who retired as a player after the 1960-61 season, was hired to coach the ABL’s Los Angeles Jets.

Saperstein told him about his plan for a three-point shot.

« He wanted to call it the 25-foot home run, » Sharman said. « He was such a great promoter. He said, ‘When the fans see this, they’ll think it’s one of the best things in basketball.’ And I think he might be right. It’s one of the most fun. »

Sharman, though, told him 25 feet was too far out.

« It’s farther than it looks, » said Sharman, who joined Saperstein in a gym and, after attempting a number of shots from that distance, suggested the three-point arc be painted 25 feet from the back of the rim, rather than the front.

The compromise, Sharman says, put the arc at about the same distance from the basket as it is in the NBA today: 23 feet 9 inches, 22 feet in the corners.

As a coach, Sharman was quick to embrace the shot.

« I didn’t emphasize it that much, » he says, « but I told the players, ‘If you have time to really get set, take it.’ I would say we had two or three plays where we’d set a double pick with a man coming behind it, hoping he would have more time to get set because it’s not a shot you can rush. »

Midway through the season, however, the Jets folded. In Cleveland, where Steinbrenner had made John McClendon the first African American coach of a major pro basketball team, McClendon stepped aside, citing owner meddling. Sharman replaced McClendon and the Pipers won the championship, winning the deciding game, appropriately enough, on a three-point basket by John Barnhill.

Less than a year later, the ABL was gone. The Eastern Professional Basketball League adopted the three-point shot in its 1964-65 season and the success of the American Basketball Assn., which launched in 1967, popularized it.

The NBA, though, didn’t adopt the three-pointer until 1979.

« The NBA didn’t want to promote anything the ABA had done, » Sharman said. « They didn’t want to look like copycats. »

After the ABL, Sharman coached two seasons at Cal State Los Angeles without the three-point shot, which was briefly tested in college basketball as early as 1945 but wasn’t added permanently until 1986, and two with the NBA’s San Francisco Warriors before coaching in the ABA, where he was reintroduced to the three.

« I really thought it added to the game, » he said. « I didn’t feel like I was in a position to push for it, but I sure would give my opinion if anyone asked. »

Saperstein died in 1966, but his innovation lives on.

Nearly 45,000 three-point shots were attempted in NBA games this season, an average of about 36 a game and almost 40,000 more than were put up in the 1979-80 season, when the rule was adopted. About 13 a game were successful.

« It’s like a magnet out there, » the Lakers’ Jordan Farmar says of the three-point arc. « You know you’re a good shooter, so you want to be rewarded. »

Farmar, who launched more three-pointers than any Laker other than Kobe Bryant this season, says the long-range shots are counterintuitive to fundamental basketball — « The closer you get to the hole, the higher the percentages » — but acknowledges that they’re a « valuable weapon. »

And, as Saperstein predicted, fans love them.

« I’m sure the game would have survived without three-point shots, » Sharman says. « But it wouldn’t be as popular, nor would the games be as exciting. »


Pâque/3626e: Cachez cette épuration ethnique que je ne saurai voir ! (Exodus: Why can’t we recognize a real episode of ethnic cleansing when we see one ?)

27 mars, 2013
https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8a/Martin%2C_John_-_The_Seventh_Plague_-_1823.jpg
https://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/jewishpopulation.jpgLe Pharaon (…)  dit à son peuple: Voilà les enfants d’Israël qui forment un peuple plus nombreux et plus puissant que nous. (…) Alors Pharaon donna cet ordre à tout son peuple: Vous jetterez dans le fleuve tout garçon qui naîtra. Exode 1 : 9-22
L’Éternel dit à Moïse et à Aaron dans le pays d’Égypte: (…) C’est la Pâque de l’Éternel. Cette nuit-là, je passerai dans le pays d’Égypte, et je frapperai tous les premiers-nés du pays d’Égypte, depuis les hommes jusqu’aux animaux, et j’exercerai des jugements contre tous les dieux de l’Égypte. (…) Le sang vous servira de signe sur les maisons où vous serez; je verrai le sang, et je passerai par-dessus vous, et il n’y aura point de plaie qui vous détruise, quand je frapperai le pays d’Égypte. (…) Au milieu de la nuit, l’Éternel frappa tous les premiers-nés dans le pays d’Égypte, depuis le premier-né de Pharaon assis sur son trône, jusqu’au premier-né du captif dans sa prison, et jusqu’à tous les premiers-nés des animaux. Pharaon se leva de nuit, lui et tous ses serviteurs, et tous les Égyptiens; et il y eut de grands cris en Égypte, car il n’y avait point de maison où il n’y eût un mort. Dans la nuit même, Pharaon appela Moïse et Aaron, et leur dit: Levez-vous, sortez du milieu de mon peuple, vous et les enfants d’Israël. Allez, servez l’Éternel, comme vous l’avez dit.Prenez vos brebis et vos boeufs, comme vous l’avez dit; allez, et bénissez-moi.Les Égyptiens pressaient le peuple, et avaient hâte de le renvoyer du pays, car ils disaient: Nous périrons tous. Exode 12 : 1-14
Israël est détruit, sa semence même n’est plus. Amenhotep III (Stèle de Mérenptah, 1209 or 1208 Av. JC)
Je me suis réjoui contre lui et contre sa maison. Israël a été ruiné à jamais. Mesha (roi de Moab, Stèle de Mesha, 850 av. J.-C.)
J’ai tué Jéhoram, fils d’Achab roi d’Israël et j’ai tué Ahziahu, fils de Jéoram roi de la Maison de David. Et j’ai changé leurs villes en ruine et leur terre en désert. Hazaël (stèle de Tel Dan, c. 835 av. JC)
Qui veut noyer son chien l’accuse de la rage. Molière
Après ce, vint une merdaille Fausse, traître et renoïe : Ce fu Judée la honnie, La mauvaise, la desloyal, Qui bien het et aimme tout mal, Qui tant donna d’or et d’argent Et promist a crestienne gent, Que puis, rivieres et fonteinnes Qui estoient cleres et seinnes En plusieurs lieus empoisonnerent, Dont pluseurs leurs vies finerent ; Car trestuit cil qui en usoient Assez soudeinnement moroient. Dont, certes, par dis fois cent mille En morurent, qu’a champ, qu’a ville. Einsois que fust aperceuë Ceste mortel deconvenue. Mais cils qui haut siet et louing voit, Qui tout gouverne et tout pourvoit, Ceste traïson plus celer Ne volt, enis la fist reveler Et si generalement savoir Qu’ils perdirent corps et avoir. Car tuit Juif furent destruit, Li uns pendus, li autres cuit, L’autre noié, l’autre ot copée La teste de hache ou d’espée. Et maint crestien ensement En morurent honteusement.  Guillaume de Machaut (Jugement du Roy de Navarre, v. 1349)
Le poète et musicien Guillaume de Machaut écrivait au milieu du XIVe siècle. Son Jugement du Roy de Navarre mériterait d’être mieux connu. La partie principale de l’œuvre, certes, n’est qu’un long poème de style courtois, conventionnel de style et de sujet. Mais le début a quelque chose de saisissant. C’est une suite confuse d’événements catastrophiques auxquels Guillaume prétend avoir assisté avant de s’enfermer, finalement, de terreur dans sa maison pour y attendre la mort ou la fin de l’indicible épreuve. Certains événements sont tout à fait invraisemblables, d’autres ne le sont qu’à demi. Et pourtant de ce récit une impression se dégage : il a dû se passer quelque chose de réel. Il y a des signes dans le ciel. Les pierres pleuvent et assomment les vivants. Des villes entières sont détruites par la foudre. Dans celle où résidait Guillaume – il ne dit pas laquelle – les hommes meurent en grand nombre. Certaines de ces morts sont dues à la méchanceté des juifs et de leurs complices parmi les chrétiens. Comment ces gens-là s’y prenaient-ils pour causer de vastes pertes dans la population locale? Ils empoisonnaient les rivières, les sources d’approvisionnement en eau potable. La justice céleste a mis bon ordre à ces méfaits en révélant leurs auteurs à la population qui les a tous massacrés. Et pourtant les gens n’ont pas cessé de mourir, de plus en plus nombreux, jusqu’à un certain jour de printemps où Guillaume entendit de la musique dans la rue, des hommes et des femmes qui riaient. Tout était fini et la poésie courtoise pouvait recommencer. (…) aujourd’hui, les lecteurs repèrent des événements réels à travers les invraisemblances du récit. Ils ne croient ni aux signes dans le ciel ni aux accusations contre les juifs mais ils ne traitent pas tous les thèmes incroyables de la même façon; ils ne les mettent pas tous sur le même plan. Guillaume n’a rien inventé. C’est un homme crédule, certes, et il reflète une opinion publique hystérique. Les innombrables morts dont il fait état n’en sont pas moins réelles, causées de toute évidence par la fameuse peste noire qui ravagea la France en 1349 et 1350. Le massacre des juifs est également réel, justifié aux yeux des foules meurtrières par les rumeurs d’empoisonnement qui circulent un peu partout. C’est la terreur universelle de la maladie qui donne un poids suffisant à ces rumeurs pour déclencher lesdits massacres. (…) Mais les nombreuses morts attribuées par l’auteur au poison judaïque suggèrent une autre explication. Si ces morts sont réelles – et il n’y a pas de raison de les tenir pour imaginaires – elles pourraient bien être les premières victimes d’un seul et même fléau. Mais Guillaume ne s’en doute pas, même rétrospectivement. A ses yeux les boucs émissaires traditionnels conservent leur puissance explicatrice pour les premiers stades de l’épidémie. Pour les stades ultérieurs, seulement, l’auteur reconnaît la présence d’un phénomène proprement pathologique. L’étendue du désastre finit par décourager la seule explication par le complot des empoisonneurs, mais Guillaume ne réinterprète pas la suite entière des événements en fonction de leur raison d’être véritable. (…) Même rétrospectivement, tous les boucs émissaires collectifs réels et imaginaires, les juifs et les flagellants, les pluies de pierre et l’epydimie, continuent à jouer leur rôle si efficacement dans le récit de Guillaume que celui-ci ne voit jamais l’unité du fléau désigné par nous comme la « peste noire ». L’auteur continue à percevoir une multiplicité de désastres plus ou moins indépendants ou reliés les uns aux autres seulement par leur signification religieuse, un peu comme les dix plaies d’Egypte.
Tout ce que je viens de dire, ou presque, est évident. Nous comprenons tous le récit de Guillaume de la même façon et mes lecteurs n’ont pas besoin de moi. Il n’est pourtant pas inutile d’insister sur cette lecture dont l’audace et la puissance nous échappent, précisément parce qu’elle est admise par tous, parce qu’elle n’est pas controversée. L’unanimité s’est faite autour d’elle il y a littéralement des siècles et jamais elle ne s’est défaite. C’est d’autant plus remarquable qu’il s’agit d’une réinterprétation radicale. Nous rejetons sans hésiter le sens que l’auteur donne à son texte. Nous affirmons qu’il ne sait pas ce qu’il dit. A plusieurs siècles de distance, nous autres, modernes, le savons mieux que lui et nous sommes capables de rectifier son dire. Nous nous croyons à même de repérer une vérité que l’auteur n’a pas vue et, par une audace plus grande encore, nous n’hésitons pas à affirmer que cette vérité, c’est lui qui nous l’apporte, en dépit de son aveuglement. (…) Devant un texte du type Guillaume de Machaut, il est légitime de suspendre la règle générale selon laquelle l’ensemble d’un texte ne vaut jamais mieux, sous le rapport de l’information réelle, que la pire de ses données. Si le texte décrit des circonstances favorables à la persécution, s’il nous présente des victimes appartenant au type que les persécuteurs ont l’habitude de choisir, et si, pour plus de certitude encore, il présente ces victimes comme coupables du type de crimes que les persécuteurs attribuent, en règle générale, à leurs victimes, il y a de grandes chances pour que la persécution soit réelle. Si le texte lui-même affirme cette réalité, il y a plus de raisons de l’accepter que de la rejeter. Dès qu’on pressent la perspective des persécuteurs, l’absurdité des accusations, loin de compromettre la valeur d’information d’un texte, renforce sa crédibilité mais sous le rapport seulement des violences dont il se fait lui-même l’écho. Si Guillaume avait ajouté des histoires d’infanticide rituel à son affaire d’empoisonnement, son compte rendu serait plus invraisemblable encore mais il n’en résulterait aucune diminution de certitude quant à la réalité des massacres qu’il nous rapporte. Plus les accusations sont invraisemblables dans ce genre de textes, plus elles renforcent la vraisemblance des massacres : elles nous confirment la présence d’un contexte psychosocial au sein duquel les massacres devaient presque certainement se produire. Inversement, le thème des massacres, juxtaposé à celui de l’épidémie, fournit le contexte historique au sein duquel même un intellectuel en principe raffiné pourrait prendre au sérieux son histoire d’empoisonnement. Les représentations persécutrices nous mentent, indubitablement, mais d’une façon trop caractéristique des persécuteurs en général et des persécuteurs médiévaux en particulier pour que le texte ne dise pas vrai sur tous les points où il confirme les conjectures suggérées par la nature même de son mensonge. Quand c’est la réalité de leurs persécutions que les persécuteurs probables affirment, ils méritent qu’on leur fasse confiance. C’est la combinaison de deux types de données qui engendre la certitude. Si l’on ne rencontrait cette combinaison qu’à de rares exemples cette certitude ne serait pas complète. Mais la fréquence est trop grande pour que le doute soit possible. Seule la persécution réelle, envisagée dans l’optique des persécuteurs, peut expliquer la conjonction régulière de ces données. 
Tout document du type Guillaume de Machaut a une valeur considérable parce qu’on retrouve en lui le vraisemblable et l’invraisemblable agencés de telle façon que chacun explique et légitime la présence de l’autre. Si notre certitude a un caractère statistique, c’est parce que n’importe quel document, envisagé isolément, pourrait être l’œuvre d’un faussaire. Les chances sont faibles mais elles ne sont pas nulles au niveau du document individuel. Au niveau du grand nombre, en revanche, elles sont nulles. La solution réaliste que le monde occidental et moderne a adoptée pour démystifier les « textes de persécution » est la seule possible et elle est certaine parce qu’elle rend parfaitement compte de toutes les données qui figurent dans ce type de textes. Ce ne sont pas l’humanitarisme ou l’idéologie qui nous la dictent, ce sont des raisons intellectuelles décisives. Cette interprétation n’a pas usurpé le consensus unanime dont elle fait l’objet. L’histoire n’a pas de résultats plus solides à nous offrir. Pour l’historien « des mentalités », un témoignage en principe digne de foi, c’est-à-dire le témoignage d’un homme qui ne partage pas les illusions d’un Guillaume de Machaut, n’aura jamais autant de valeur que le témoignage indigne des persécuteurs, ou de leurs complices, plus fortement parce que inconsciemment révélateur. Le document décisif est celui de persécuteurs assez naïfs pour ne pas effacer les traces de leurs crimes, à la différence de certains persécuteurs modernes, trop avisés pour laisser derrière eux des documents qui pourraient être utilisés contre eux. J’appelle naïfs les persécuteurs encore assez persuadés de leur bon droit et pas assez méfiants pour maquiller ou censurer les données caractéristiques de leur persécution. Celles-ci apparaissent dans leurs textes tantôt sous une forme véridique et directement révélatrice, tantôt sous une forme trompeuse mais indirectement révélatrice. Toutes les données sont fortement stéréotypées et c’est la combinaison des deux types de stéréotypes, les véridiques et les trompeurs, qui nous renseigne sur la nature de ces textes. ? Nous savons tous repérer, aujourd’hui, les stéréotypes de la persécution. Il y a là un savoir qui s’est banalisé mais qui n’existait pas ou très peu au XIVe siècle. Les persécuteurs naïfs ne savent pas ce qu’ils font. Ils ont trop bonne conscience pour tromper sciemment leurs lecteurs et ils présentent les choses telles que réellement ils les voient. Ils ne se doutent pas qu’en rédigeant leurs comptes rendus ils donnent des armes contre eux-mêmes à la postérité. C’est vrai au XVIe siècle pour la tristement fameuse « chasse aux sorcières ». C’est encore vrai de nos jours pour les régions « arriérées » de notre planète.
Le passage de Guillaume, cité plus haut, constitue un bon exemple de ce que j’ai nommé dans Des choses cachées depuis la fondation du monde les « textes de persécution». J’entends par là les comptes rendus de violences réelles, souvent collectives, rédigés dans la perspective des persécuteurs, et affectés, par conséquent, de distorsions caractéristiques. Il faut repérer ces distorsions pour les rectifier et pour déterminer la réalité de toutes les violences que le texte de persécution présente comme justifiées. Il n’est pas nécessaire d’examiner longuement le compte rendu d’un procès de sorcellerie pour constater qu’on y retrouve la même combinaison de données réelles et de données imaginaires mais nullement gratuites que nous avons rencontrée dans le texte de Guillaume de Machaut. Tout est présenté comme vrai et nous n’en croyons rien mais nous n’en croyons pas pour autant que tout est faux. Nous n’avons aucune peine, pour l’essentiel, à faire le partage du vrai et du faux. Là aussi les chefs d’accusation paraissent ridicules même si la sorcière les tient pour réels, et même s’il y a lieu de penser que ses aveux n’ont pas été obtenus par la torture. L’accusée peut fort bien se prendre pour une sorcière véritable. Peut-être s’est-elle réellement efforcée de nuire à ses voisins par des procédés magiques. Nous n’en jugeons pas pour autant qu’elle mérite la mort. Il n’y a pas pour nous de procédés magiques efficaces. Nous admettons sans peine que la victime puisse partager avec ses bourreaux la même foi dérisoire en l’efficacité de la sorcellerie mais cette foi ne nous atteint pas nous-mêmes ; notre scepticisme n’en est pas ébranlé. Pendant ces procès aucune voix ne s’élève pour rétablir, ou plutôt pour établir la vérité. Personne n’est encore capable de le faire. C’est dire que nous avons contre nous, contre l’interprétation que nous donnons de leurs propres textes, non seulement les juges et les témoins mais les accusées elles-mêmes. Cette unanimité ne nous impressionne pas. Les auteurs de ces documents étaient là et nous n’y étions pas. Nous ne disposons d’aucune information qui ne vienne d’eux. Et pourtant, à plusieurs siècles de distance, un historien solitaire, ou même le premier individu venu se juge habilité à casser la sentence prononcée contre les sorcières. C’est la même réinterprétation radicale que dans l’exemple de Guillaume de Machaut, la même audace dans le bouleversement des textes, c’est la même opération intellectuelle et c’est la même certitude, fondée sur le même type de raisons. La présence de données imaginaires ne nous amène pas à considérer l’ensemble du texte comme imaginaire. Bien au contraire. Les accusations incroyables ne diminuent pas mais renforcent la crédibilité des autres données. Ici encore nous avons un rapport qui semble paradoxal mais en réalité ne l’est pas entre l’improbabilité et la probabilité des données qui entrent dans la composition des textes. C’est en fonction de ce rapport, généralement informulé mais néanmoins présent à notre esprit que nous évaluons la quantité et la qualité de l’information susceptible d’être extraite de notre texte.  (…) La mentalité persécutrice suscite un certain type d’illusion et les traces de cette illusion confirment plutôt qu’elles n’infirment la présence, derrière le texte qui en fait lui-même état, d’un certain type d’événement, la persécution elle-même, la mise à mort de la sorcière. Il n’est donc pas difficile, je le répète, de démêler le vrai du faux qui ont l’un et l’autre un caractère assez fortement stéréotypé. Pour bien comprendre le pourquoi et le comment de l’assurance extraordinaire dont nous faisons preuve devant les textes de persécution, il faut énumérer et décrire les stéréotypes. Là non plus, la tâche n’est pas difficile. Il ne s’agit jamais que d’expliciter un savoir que nous possédons déjà mais dont nous ne soupçonnons pas la portée car nous ne le dégageons jamais de façon systématique. Le savoir en question reste pris dans les exemples concrets auxquels nous l’appliquons et ceux-ci appartiennent toujours au domaine de l’histoire, surtout occidentale. Jamais encore nous n’avons essayé d’appliquer ce savoir en dehors de ce domaine, par exemple aux univers dits « ethnologiques ». René Girard
Aujourd’hui on repère les boucs émissaires dans l’Angleterre victorienne et on ne les repère plus dans les sociétés archaïques. C’est défendu. René Girard
« Ils m’ont haï sans cause »? (…) « Il faut que s’accomplisse en moi ce texte de l’Écriture : ” On l’a compté parmi les criminels [ou les transgresseurs] (…) C’est tout simplement le refus de la causalité magique, et le refus des accusations stéréotypées qui s’énonce dans ces phrases apparemment trop banales pour tirer à conséquence. C’est le refus de tout ce que les foules persécutrices acceptent les yeux fermés. C’est ainsi que les Thébains adoptent tous sans hésiter l’hypothèse d’un OEdipe responsable de la peste, parce qu’incestueux ; c’est ainsi que les Égyptiens font enfermer le malheureux Joseph, sur la foi des racontars d’une Vénus provinciale, tout entière à sa proie attachée. Les Égyptiens n’en font jamais d’autres. Nous restons très égyptiens sous le rapport mythologique, avec Freud en particulier qui demande à l’Égypte la vérité du judaïsme. Les théories à la mode restent toutes païennes dans leur attachement au parricide, à l’inceste, etc., dans leur aveuglement au caractère mensonger des accusations stéréotypées. Nous sommes très en retard sur les Évangiles et même sur la Genèse. René Girard
From the Egyptian standpoint the departure of the Hebrews from Egypt was actually a justifiable expulsion. The main sources are the writings of Manetho and Apion, which are summarized and refuted in Josephus’s work Against Apion . . . Manetho was an Egyptian priest in Heliopolis. Apion was an Egyptian who wrote in Greek and played a prominent role in Egyptian cultural and political life. His account of the Exodus was used in an attack on the claims and rights of Alexandrian Jews . . . [T]he Hellenistic-Egyptian version of the Exodus may be summarized as follows: The Egyptians faced a major crisis precipitated by a group of people suffering from various diseases. For fear the disease would spread or something worse would happen, this motley lot was assembled and expelled from the country. Under the leadership of a certain Moses, these people were dispatched; they constituted themselves then as a religious and national unity. They finally settled in Jerusalem and became the ancestors of the Jews. James G. Williams
Le saviez-vous ? 900 000 Juifs ont été exclus ou expulsés des Etats arabo-musulmans entre 1940 et 1970. L’histoire de la disparition du judaïsme en terres d’islam est la clef d’une mystification politique de grande ampleur qui a fini par gagner toutes les consciences. Elle fonde le récit qui accable la légitimité et la moralité d’Israël en l’accusant d’un pseudo « péché originel ». La fable est simpliste : le martyre des Juifs européens sous le nazisme serait la seule justification de l’État d’Israël. Sa « création » par les Nations Unies aurait été une forme de compensation au lendemain de la guerre. Cependant, elle aurait entraîné une autre tragédie, la « Nakba », en dépossédant les Palestiniens de leur propre territoire. Dans le meilleur des cas, ce récit autorise à tolérer que cet État subsiste pour des causes humanitaires, malgré sa culpabilité congénitale. Cette narration a, de fait, tout pour sembler réaliste. Elle surfe sur le sentiment de culpabilité d’une Europe doublement responsable : de la Shoah et de l’imposition coloniale d’Israël à un monde arabe innocent.  Dans le pire des cas, cette narration ne voit en Israël qu’une puissance colonialiste qui doit disparaître. Ce qui explique l’intérêt d’accuser sans cesse Israël de génocide et de nazisme : sa seule « raison d’être » (la Shoah) est ainsi sapée dans son fondement. La « Nakba » est le pendant de la Shoah. La synthèse politiquement correcte de ces deux positions extrêmes est trouvée dans la doctrine de l’État bi-national ou du « retour » des « réfugiés » qui implique que les Juifs d’Israël mettent en oeuvre leur propre destruction en disparaissant dans une masse démographique arabo-musulmane. Shmuel Trigano
L’accusation de crime rituel à l’encontre des Juifs est l’une des plus anciennes allégations antijuives et antisémites de l’Histoire. En effet, bien que l’accusation de crime de sang ait touché d’autres groupes que les Juifs, dont les premiers chrétiens, certains détails, parmi lesquels l’allégation que les Juifs utilisaient du sang humain pour certains de leurs rituels religieux, principalement la confection de pains azymes (matza) lors de la Pâque, leur furent spécifiques. (…) Le premier exemple connu d’accusation de ce type précède le christianisme, puisqu’il est fourni, selon Flavius Josèphe, par Apion, un écrivain sophiste égyptien hellénisé ayant vécu au Ier siècle. (…) Après la première affaire à Norwich (Angleterre) en 1144, les accusations se multiplient dans l’Europe catholique. De nombreuses disparitions inexpliquées d’enfants et de nombreux meurtres sont expliqués par ce biais. Wikipedia
The purpose of ethnic cleansing is to remove competitors. The party implementing this policy sees a risk (or a useful scapegoat) in a particular ethnic group, and uses propaganda about that group to stir up FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) in the general population. The targeted ethnic group is marginalized and demonized. It can also be conveniently blamed for the economic, moral and political woes of that region. Physically removing the targeted ethnic community provides a very clear, visual reminder of the power of the current government. It also provides a safety-valve for violence stirred up by the FUD. The government in power benefits significantly from seizing the assets of the dispossessed ethnic group. The reason given for ethnic cleansing is usually that the targeted community is potentially or actually hostile to the « approved » population.[weasel words] Suddenly your neighbour becomes a « danger » to you and your children. In giving in to the FUD, you become as much a victim of political manipulation as the targeted group. Although ethnic cleansing has sometimes been motivated by claims that an ethnic group is literally « unclean » (as in the case of the Jews of medieval Europe), it has generally been a deliberate (if brutal) way of ensuring the complete domination of a region. Wikipedia
Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD, littéralement « peur, incertitude et doute », prononcé « feude ») est une technique rhétorique utilisée notamment dans la vente, le marketing, les relations publiques et le discours politique. Elle consiste à tenter d’influencer autrui en diffusant des informations négatives, souvent vagues et inspirant la peur. Terme initialement utilisé pour qualifier une tactique de désinformation d’IBM, la FUD est utilisée plus largement au XXIe siècle. Wikipedia
Les déplacements forcés de population ont été beaucoup pratiqués dans l’Antiquité. On en trouve des relations dans l’Ancien Testament. Les grands Empires, assyrien, babylonien, romain, pratiquèrent la déportation des peuples conquis. En Europe, les Juifs furent expulsés d’Angleterre (1290), de France (1306, 1322 et 1394), de Hongrie (1349–1360), d’Occitanie (1394 et 1490), d’Autriche (1421), d’Espagne après la Reconquête (1492), du Portugal (1497), de Russie en 1724, et de régions d’Allemagne à différentes périodes. L’Espagne expulsa sa communauté musulmane en 1502, puis les morisques qui étaient des musulmans convertis au catholicisme à partir de 1609. La France expulsa des protestants, on peut parler ici d’un nettoyage religieux. La colonisation eut son lot de nettoyages ethniques en Amérique (Indiens d’Amérique, Acadiens), Australie, Afrique du Sud (voir également le « grand dérangement » des Acadiens en 1755). Les années 1920 voient l’expulsion des Grecs d’Asie Mineure et, de façon symétrique, des Turcs ou musulmans des îles grecques. Le phénomène se répète à Chypre après 1974. L’époque moderne est marquée par des nettoyages ethniques tel que le génocide arménien, la Shoah, le génocide rwandais, les guerres de Yougoslavie, la guerre civile au Darfour, les massacres au Congo, les persécutions envers les Tamouls au Sri Lanka… De 1935 à 1938, Staline déporte les Polonais de Volhynie orientale. C’est la première déportation ethnique dans l’histoire de l’URSS, bien que de telles actions aient déjà été réalisées à plusieurs reprises à l’époque des tsars. D’autres peuples suivront, des Allemands de la Volga aux Tchétchènes en passant par les Tatars de Crimée et les Meskhètes, qui furent déportés vers le Kazakhstan et ne furent autorisés à revenir dans leurs régions d’origine qu’après la mort de Staline (voir en). À partir de juillet 1941, les nazis planifient la mise à disposition systématique du Lebensraum, colonisation germanique essentiellement au détriment des peuples slaves : cette organisation d’un nettoyage ethnique se nomme « Schéma directeur pour l’Est ». En 1945 les Soviétiques décidèrent de transporter massivement les populations de langue et de culture allemandes vivant en Europe centrale et orientale à l’intérieur des frontières de l’Allemagne post-hitlérienne, réduite aux quatre zones d’occupation, arguant que l’existence de ces minorités avait servi de prétexte à l’Allemagne nazie pour justifier sa politique d’expansion. Wikipedia
The earliest non-Biblical account of the Exodus is in the writings of the Greek author Hecataeus of Abdera: the Egyptians blame a plague on foreigners and expel them from the country, whereupon Moses, their leader, takes them to Canaan, where he founds the city of Jerusalem. Hecataeus wrote in the late 4th century BCE, but the passage is quite possibly an insertion made in the mid-1st century BCE. The most famous is by the Egyptian historian Manetho (3rd century BCE), known from two quotations by the 1st century CE Jewish historian Josephus. In the first, Manetho describes the Hyksos, their lowly origins in Asia, their dominion over and expulsion from Egypt, and their subsequent foundation of the city of Jerusalem and its temple. Josephus (not Manetho) identifies the Hyksos with the Jews. In the second story Manetho tells how 80,000 lepers and other « impure people, » led by a priest named Osarseph, join forces with the former Hyksos, now living in Jerusalem, to take over Egypt. They wreak havoc until eventually the pharaoh and his son chase them out to the borders of Syria, where Osarseph gives the lepers a law-code and changes his name to Moses.  Manetho differs from the other writers in describing his renegades as Egyptians rather than Jews, and in using a name other than Moses for their leader, although the identification of Osarseph with Moses may be a later addition. Wikipedia

Attention: une épuration ethnique peut en cacher une autre !

Babylone, Assyrie, Rome, Carthage, Alexandrie, Angleterre, France, Hongrie, Occitanie, Autriche, Espagne, Portugal, Russie, Allemagne, Pays arabes …

Empoisonnement des sources, rivières ou puits, sorcellerie ou magie noire, crime rituel d’enfants …

En ces jours où, quelques jours avant nous chrétiens et sous protection policière, nos amis juifs commémorent leur libération du goulag égyptien

Pendant qu’après toutes les autres et du côté cette fois de Téhéran (ou même, sans compter les sept dernières guerres, de Ramallah ou Gaza), de nouveaux « égyptiens » se préparent à la prochaine expulsion

Comment, avec René Girard et James Williams, ne pas s’étonner de cet étrange négationnisme à une époque on en voit des génocides partout tant des historiens juifs ou chrétiens que laïques …

Qui, derrière le récit manifestement retravaillé de l’exode biblique, continue à refuser l’évidence d’un épisode somme toute parfaitement classique de nettoyage ethnique

Où, selon le bon vieux principe du bouc émissaire, une société en pleine crise multiplie les accusations les plus objectives comme les plus fantaisistes contre la population à expulser (les fameuses « plaies »: fleuve changé en sang et ulcères, invasion de grenouilles, poux, mouches et sauterelles, grêle et ténèbres, mort des troupeaux et des premiers-nés) …

Mais qu’en un premier (certes partiel) mouvement démystificateur tendant à démontrer la toute-puissance de leur propre divinité, les rédacteurs bibliques auraient « retournées » en une véritable contre-histoire en attribuant l’origine à cette dernière?

Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

Part 21: Exodus

At first glance, the story of the exodus from Egypt seems to demonstrate God’s violence. Many have been troubled by the suffering of the Egyptian citizens and soldiers, victims of the ten plagues, particularly the killing of the first-born son. Why should Egyptian citizens suffer so much on account of their hard-hearted Pharaoh? And, Pharaoh himself could be regarded as an victim, in that the text attributes his hardened heart to God.

James G. Williams (The Bible, Violence, and the Sacred) argues that a non-sacrificial reading of the Bible is compatible with the Exodus account. First, the account focuses on the innocent victims—in this case the Hebrews. Williams notes that this story is distinctive not because the Hebrews were once oppressed—nearly all peoples have been oppressed at some point in their history. Rather, the Hebrews’ sacred story relates their oppression and abuse in detail. Most people have origin stories in which they arise and conquer according to the wishes of their gods. The Hebrews’ acknowledgement of their disreputable origins makes God’s justice, mercy, and compassion more clear.

Second, there is a series of substitutions that reduce violence, particularly violence against the innocent. For example, the killing of the first-born is less violent than the previous Egyptian edict to kill all of the Hebrews’ male infants. Similarly, the sacrifice of lambs constitutes a substitution that promises, ultimately, to reduce sacred violence. Of course, the later prophets (who we will discuss next week) and Jesus go much farther in their opposition to sacrifice, but such ancient people could not imagine a God who does not want some kind of blood sacrifice.

A remarkable point about the Exodus story is that the Hebrews did not aim to retaliate against the Egyptians, only to leave. Traditionally, people sought revenge as much as their freedom, but the Exodus story suggests a different approach to injustice.

Interestingly, there are Greek accounts of the Exodus that derive from now-lost Egyptian sources. According to those accounts, the Egyptians faced a major crisis related to a group of people suffering from various diseases, and the Egyptians decided to expel this group from the country. One remarkable way by which the Egyptian account differs from that of the Bible is that the Egyptian story blames the Hebrews for the diseases (or whatever crises they experienced) and then, like the scapegoat sent into the wilderness, banned the accused troublemakers.

Voir aussi:

A History of the Jews, a list of expulsions for 2000 years

This historical background of centuries of anti-Semitism eventually exploded in the 20th century « Holocaust ». The hostility and hatred manifested in the holocaust was therefore not new. As we have stated ancient writings contain much anti-Semitism. In pre-Roman times most people did not read or write. At times, Rome tried to eradicate Judaism and « Jewishness ». Followers were assumed to be treasonous and subversive. This in turn led to major revolts on the part of the Jewish community.

The following is a brief summary of Incidents involving Jews in History…

135 B.C

Antiochus Epiphanes desecrates Second Jewish Temple; leading to Hasmonean Revolt against the Greeks.

70 A.D.

Titus took Jerusalem – second revolt. Over one million Jews killed.

136 A.D.

580,000 men destroyed, 985 towns destroyed – third revolt.

300 A.D.

Purim festival celebrating God’s deliverance to Mordecai and the Jews through Esther and the fasting. Lies spread that Jews kill Christians for sacrifice. Emperor Severus also said the Jews purchased 90,000 Christians to kill them.

306 A.D.

Council in Spain banned Christians & Jews meeting or marrying.

325 A.D.

Constantine changed the celebration of Easter on the calendar so that it did not coincide with the Jewish Passover.

379 A.D.

Vicious writing by St. John Chrysostom and St. Ambrose in Milan who said: « The Jews are the most worthless of all men. They are lecherous, greedy, rapacious. They are perfidious murderers of Christ. They worship the Devil. Their religion is a sickness. The Jews are the odious assassins of Christ and for killing God there is no expiation possible, no indulgence or pardon. Christians may never cease vengeance, and the Jew must live in servitude forever. God always hated the Jews. It is essential that all Christians hate them. » He was called the Bishop with the Golden Tongue. St. Ambrose, Bishop of the Church offered to burn the synagogue himself.

395 A.D.

St. Gregory of Nyssa in sermons and writings characterized Jews as assassins of the Prophets, companions of the Devil, a race of vipers, a Sanhedrin of Demons, enemies of all that is beautiful, hogs and goats in their lewd grossness.

415 A.D.

Bishop Severus BURNED THE SYNAGOGUE IN THE VILLAGE OF MAGONA. BISHOP OF

ALEXANDRIA, ST. CYRIL EXPELLED JEWS FROM ALEXANDRIA AND GAVE THE MOB JEWISH PROPERTY.

ACCUSATION of Ritual murder by the Jews during Purim. Christians confiscated synagogues in ANTIOCH.

These were not hooligans but Church Fathers!

AUGUSTINE, JEROME, AMBROSE AND LESSER SAINTS AS ST. CHRYSOSTROM AND CYRIL, added to untruths the new ones that Jews were dishonest and prone to sexual perversions.

717 A.D.

Jews had to wear special yellow garb. Originated in Islam.

1012 A.D.

Emperor Henry II of Germany expels Jews from Mainz, the beginning of persecutions against Jews in Germany.

1096 A.D.

First Crusade. Crusaders massacre the Jews of the Rhineland.

1144 A.D.

First recorded blood libel. In Norwich it was alleged that the Jews had « bought a Christian child before Easter, tortured him with all the tortures wherewith our Lord was tortured and on Friday hanged him on a rood in hatred of our Lord. » (England)

This notorious allegation that Jews murder non-Jews, especially Christians, in order to obtain blood for the Passover or other rituals is a complex of deliberate lies, trumped up accusations, and popular beliefs about the murder-lust of the Jews and their blood-thirstiness, based on the conception that Jews hate Christianity and mankind in general. It is combined with the delusion that Jews are in some way not human and must have recourse to special remedies and subterfuges in order to appear at least outwardly, like other men. The blood libel led to trials and massacres of Jews. Its origin is rooted in ancient almost primordial, concepts concerning the potency and energies of blood. It is one of the most terrible expressions of human cruelty and credulity. These blood rituals are expressly forbidden in Judaism. (See Leviticus 17;11 etc.)

1190 A.D.

Massacre of Jews in England.

1215 A.D.

The Jewish badge introduced.

1240 A.D.

Talmud burned in France.

1290 A.D.

Jews expelled from England.

1298 A.D.

Massacre of thousands in Germany, in 146 localities.

1306 A.D.

Expulsion from France.

1348 A.D.

JEWS blamed for the BLACK DEATH. Charge laid to the Jews that they POISONED the wells to kill CHRISTIANS.

1389 A.D.

MASSACRES in Bohemia, Spain.

1421 A.D.

270 JEWS BURNED AT THE STAKE. In the 14th and 15th centuries the Inquisition was more intense because the Church and State joined forces. Just being Jewish guaranteed persecution

1480 A.D.

Inquisition in Spain – Jews and Christians burned at the stake.

1483 A.D.

EXPULSIONS from Warsaw, Sicily, Lithuania, Portugal.

1492 A.D.

ALL JEWS EXPELLED FROM SPAIN.

1506 A.D.

Murders in Lisbon – 4000, « conversos », men, women, and children thrown from windows to street mobs below, due to preaching by Dominicans against the Jews.

1510 A.D.

EXPELLED from Brandenburg, Germany.

1516 A.D.

Venice initiates the ghetto, the first in Christian Europe.

1544 A.D.

The Reformation. At the end of Martin Luther’s life the German reformer vilified the Jews in violent pamphlets which could not fail to exert their influence. But because Calvinists were steeped in Old Testament theology, the Dutch people respected the Jews as « the Chosen » people; and were not anti-Semitic in their faith. The reformation was a time of turmoil as the Roman Church and feudalism lost their supremacy. There was a rising up of Nationhood and Luther was a German nationalist. The Talmud was seized and burned everywhere by Papal authority. Jews in Catholic countries and Polish Jews suffered greatly. Luther’s anti-Semitic writings were later used in anti-Semitic literature.

1553 A.D.

Rome seized and burned the Talmud by order of the POPE.

1559 A.D.

12,000 copies of Talmud burned in Milan.

1569 A.D.

POPE PIUS V ordered all Jews out of the Papal states.

1593 A.D.

EXPULSIONS from Italy and Bavaria.

1598 A.D.

Ritual murder charge that sent three Jews to their deaths. Execution of the supposed guilty was done by QUARTERING. (In his book the « Birth of the Prison » Michel Foucault describes at length the quartering of a condemned man in 1757. It was done eventually by six horses instead of the four original ones and other means had to come in to play due to the failure even of six horses as the prisoners limbs were tied to ropes harnessed to the horses. Each horse pulled in a different direction. One horse fell to the ground unsuccessfully. Knives had to be used for severing…)

1614 A.D.

JEWS attacked and driven out of Frankfurt, Germany.

1624 A.D.

GHETTO established in Ferrara, Italy.

1648 A.D.

Leader of the Cossacks, in the Ukraine massacres 100,000 Jews and destroyed 300 communities.

1655 A.D.

Massacres of Jews in war against Sweden & Russia by Poland.

1715 A.D.

POPE PIUS VI issues edict against Jews.

1768 A.D.

20,000 Jews in Poland killed.

1805 A.D.

MASSACRE of Jews in Algeria.

1840 A.D.

BLOOD LIBEL in DAMASCUS.

1853 A.D.

BLOOD LIBEL in RUSSIA.

1858 A.D.

THE MORTARA CASE: Catholics abduct a 7 yr. old Jewish child. A Catholic servant baptized a Jewish child when the child was seriously ill and the church of Rome seized the child. Outcry had no effect on the POPE.

1879 A.D.

Word anti-Semitism comes into existence.

1881 A.D.

POGROMS BEGAN. The word is of Russian origin. It designates attack, accompanied by destruction, looting of property, murder, rape. There were three major outbreaks in Russia. The word designates more particularly the attacks carried out by the Christian population. Each pogrom surpassed the other in savagery.

KIEV, ODESSA; Here murder of whole families was a common occurrence. Partial data are available for 530 communities in which 887 major pogroms and 349 minor pogroms occurred. There were 60,000 dead and several times that many were wounded.

1882 A.D.

FIRST ANTI-JEWISH CONGRESS HELD. In Dresden, Germany.

1894 A.D.

ALFRED DREYFUS TRIAL in France. Details follow further on in this summary.

1903 A.D.

APPEARANCE of a new issue of the PROTOCOLS OF THE ELDERS OF ZION. In Russia.

This spectre of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy aiming at reducing the Gentiles to slavery or extermination loomed up in the medieval Christian imagination and grew out of legends about well poisonings and plague spreading. It was concocted in Paris by an unknown author working for the Russian secret police. It was an alleged conference of the leaders of World Jewry. It was translated into all the world languages. In 1963 a Spanish edition was published. During World War II, the Protocols of the elders of Zion became an implicit justification for the GENOCIDE of the Jews and Nazi propaganda relied on them until the last days of the Third Reich. Smaller pamphlets of it have been distributed in B.C. 1983 published in California… Required reading in most Arab countries, in schools, to this day.

1905 A.D.

Russian pogroms continue. Also in Morocco, Ukraine, 300 dead.

1919 A.D.

3000 Jews killed in Hungarian pogroms.

1920 A.D.

Appearance of ADOLPH HITLER. Also Henry Ford the 1st believes the Protocols; and publishes anti-Jewish articles in his newspaper, the Dearborn Independent.

1925 A.D.

MEIN KAMPH appears. Hitler’s Plan published in Germany.

1933 A.D.

HITLER appointed chancellor in Germany.

1935 A.D.

Hitler writes his Nuremberg Laws which lead to his Final Solution.

1938 A.D.

Burning in AUSTRIA & GERMANY of Synagogues. Jews sent to concentration camps. Beginnings of the Holocaust.

1939 A.D.

Germany overruns Poland.

1940 A.D.

Gassing, shootings in Polish Ghettos (Jewish).

1941 A.D.

EXPULSION of Jews from the German Reich to Poland. Riots against Jews in Iraq.

1942 A.D.

Mass transports of Jews to Belgium & Holland.

1944 A.D.

EXTERMINATION OF HUNGARIAN JEWS.

1945 A.D.

HOLOCAUST Final Count: 6,000,000 Jews slaughtered.

1946 A.D.

Pogroms in Poland – 42 Jews murdered.

1948 A.D.

BIRTH OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL. Also Jewish intellectuals shot in Russia.

1952 A.D.

Jews murdered byCommunists, and others disappear. Prague trials. Murder of Yiddish intellectuals in Russia and many sent to work camps..

1956 A.D.

Jews expelled out of EGYPT.

1967 A.D.

SIX DAY WAR. Also new publication of Elders of Zion in Arabic.

1968 A.D.

Emigration of last remaining Jews in Poland.

1969 A.D.

JEWS EXECUTED IN IRAQ.

1970 A.D.

Beginning of imprisonment in Russia of PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE. (« Refuseniks »)

1980 A.D.

Russian imprisonments carry on throughout the 70’s to the 80’s.

1982 A.D.

War in Lebanon begins after many years of terrorist attacks against the Jews in the Upper Galilee area from the vantage point of Beaufort Castle. Many Lebanese killed over long period of time, but was ignored by the News Media. War in Lebanon gets slanted coverage.

1983 A.D.

Word from Christians in Israel that the PLO planned their next battleground to be Canada via Quebec. Documented proof that Russia planned in 1982 to attack Israel.

SUMMARY:

The word « anti-Semitism » is inadequate. It is a misnomer. The word was coined in 1879 from the Greek words « anti », meaning « against » and « Semite », meaning a descendant of Shem. The word was first used by Wilhelm Marr a German agitator, who created it to explain the current anti-Jewish campaigns in Europe. Since the Arab peoples are also Semitic people it is not the best expression. Anti-Jewish, and Jew- hatred, are more descriptive. It is more than just prejudice. The word came into general use in the past hundred years and encompasses all forms of hostility manifested toward Jews throughout history.

There can be economic and social or racial anti-Semitism. It didn’t reach epidemic proportions until 175 B.C. Previous uprisings against Jews were not really anti-Semitic. It began almost exclusively in countries which later became part of the Roman Empire. Prejudice flared it seems because Jewish people in honouring their Jewish laws, appeared to be in defiance of Gentile governments. The false assumption began to emerge that Jews didn’t have any respect for whatever was held in esteem by the rest of humanity.

In the Greek Hellenistic period no other nation denied the gods of it’s neighbours; on the contrary they recognized those gods, identifying them with their own deities. These heathen « gods » created a social bond between people in their domains. None of the people refrained from dining at table with their neighbours and from partaking of the sacrifices offered to their gods except the Jews. None of the peoples refused to send gifts to its neighbours temples, except the Jews. None of the peoples was unequivocally hostile to intermarriage except the Jews.

In the eastern Mediterranean area friction arose over the difference in occupations between Jews and Gentiles. The Jewish population was engaged primarily in small scale farming; the non-Jewish population occupied itself primarily in commerce. The sea trade was almost entirely in the hands of the trans-Jordanian cities, which connected Syria, Asia Minor and the regions of the Euphrates with the Arabian countries. The inhabitants of Eretz Israel had connections abroad. Non-Jews also knew that Jews looked upon their land as their divine inheritance.

The first serious manifestation of anti-Semitism was in the days of the Syrian, Antiochus Epiphanes in 175 B.C. Hellenistic rulers saw the unfriendliness of the Jews as obstacles to the cultural scene. He undertook to destroy those laws of the Talmud that he regarded as unacceptable to humanity. To this end he desecrated their place of worship by sacrificing a pig on their altar in Jerusalem, and ordered that the residual juices be sprinkled over the Holy Books containing these Jewish laws.

Greek authors in the first century portrayed the Jewish people as descendants of a mob of lepers. They further stated that because of this uncleanness Jews shunned the flesh of pigs, since pigs were more prone to contract disease. The Gentiles knew that their own pagan religions and practices rendered them unclean in the eyes of the Jews.

The fact remains that even after four thousand years the idea of a covenant between the Jews and Jehovah is still alive; and is mentioned daily in prayers in synagogues throughout the world. The idea of a covenant with God has remained constant. Because Jehovah is immortal He never dies and because He never dies He never has to be reincarnated. Thus the Jews dispensed with the reincarnation rites of the pagans. The Jews’ God was invisible. The concept of « one God », Jehovah, being completely withdrawn from sexuality led to a curb of licentious impulses through inner discipline. By contrast ,the Greek gods themselves set the pattern for the unbridled lust and perversion which finally weakened the moral fibre of that people; whereas the Jews, even when they later came in contact with the Greeks, refused to indulge in the Grecian sexual excesses, which included even temple prostitution. The Jewish religion did away with all fertility rites.

As a consequence of the Jewish dietary laws, intermarriage was forbidden and no real social intercourse with gentiles was possible. Also, Jews refused to enter into Emperor worship. It was considered to be an expression of loyalty to the state. About their own religious practices a libel began to circulate that Jews actually sacrificed humans on their altars, allegedly using the blood for Passover rites. Further it was said that the sacrificed person must be a Christian or one of their children. This became known as the « Blood Libel » against the Jews. It mattered not that it was a total fabrication.

Another libel circulating was that unclean leprous people were expelled from Egypt, and that the Jews were these people. Therefore, being foreigners, it was stated that the Jews had no right to claim ancient Israel as their divinely given land.

The destruction of the temple by Titus in 70 AD was seen as hatred by God of the Jews, and as punishment. Jews in Rome felt the barbs of Roman writers. Nero’s teacher was anti-Semitic. Cornelius Tacitus wrote about every libellous fabrication against Jews that he could find in Greek anti-Semitic literature. Juvenal wrote a poem revealing that to him the Jews were hateful not only to man but to the gods as well.

In the fourth century AD, when Constantine became the Roman Emperor and supposedly converted to Christianity, he harnessed Political power to Religion and passed anti-Jewish laws, whereby Jews were excluded from every sphere of political influence, and denied civic rights.

The Gospel accounts began to be the source from which wrong teachings grew, until the word « Deicide » meant the Jews killed God, and were labelled « Christ-killers ». Matthew 27:25 which spoke of some Jewish leaders was used instead to apply to all Jews: « His blood be on us and on our children…Ye are of your father the devil. »

Converts to Christianity and converts to Judaism sparked a seriously divisive rivalry. Religious competition began between the Greek fathers of the Church, and Jews. Church laws were passed whereby Jewish relations with Christian women was now punishable by death. Anti-Semitism at this time was mainly limited to the clergy, who were the educated minority.

Islam arose in the seventh century AD, and also attacked the Jews because the Jews did not recognize Muhammad as a legitimate Prophet. The Koran contained their writings; and many statements in it were hostile to Jews. In the Middle Ages church councils legislated to prevent contact with the Jews because Christians were saying after visiting synagogues that the Jews were better priests.

CONCLUSION:

The above catalogue is only the tip of the iceberg! One would think that anti-Jewish atrocities would have ended with the nightmare of the Holocaust. One-third of the world’s Jews were murdered by an ungodly German conspiracy that had accused the Jews of « conspiracy ». It is not often emphasized that two-thirds of the world’s Jews survived; and that due to the faithfulness of their G-d. God has again, as in times past, protected them from total extermination, as He promised. (the Book of Esther, and Jeremiah 31:35-37)

The Holocaust was the final catalyst which led to the re-creation of the State of Israel in 1948. But we have to go back at the very least to the DREYFUS CASE to understand the long range process.

Alfred Dreyfus was the son of a wealthy Alsatian family in France. He entered the French Army in 1892 and became a Captain, and the only Jew. He was framed by a fellow officer for allegedly giving secrets to the enemy, arrested and tried for treason. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. Eventually Emile Zola took up the fight proclaiming the man’s innocence and published an open letter to the President of France titled « I ACCUSE. » Dreyfus was eventually declared unjustly convicted by the Parliament of France. The injustice was totally motivated by Jew-hatred.

During the course of the trumped-up trial a Jewish journalist became involved; and he was the man that was to lead the Jews back to their Land. His name was THEODORE HERZL (1860 – 1904 A.D.) and he called European Jewry together in Basle, Switzerland in 1897 at the now famous « First World Zionist Congress ». There in 1897 he publicly predicted to friend and foe alike that the Jews would be back in « the Land » of Palestine « within 50 years ». In 1947, exactly fifty years later the United Nations passed the « Resolution For the Partition of Palestine », which lead to the declaration of Statehood on May 14,1948.

With the shouts of « death » to the Jews still ringing in his ears from the Dreyfus Trial, Herzl became convinced that the only solution was the mass exodus of the Jews from their present places of residence to a territory of their own… So out of the suffering of the Dreyfus family came the State of Israel. Herzl became the father of Political Zionism and founder of the World Zionist organization.

Herzl was born in Budapest. He left a German students society in 1883 in protest against his first encounter with anti-Semitism. He came across this « Jewish problem » again and again in his life. Although he graduated in 1884 with a doctorate of law he left the legal profession and became a famous writer. He wrote many literary works, some of them plays.

In 1891 he became the Paris correspondent of a Vienna newspaper. He pursued politics and organized the first Zionist Congress is Basle in 1897. (In 1960, Israel issued a centenary stamp with a well known painting of Herzl on the bridge at Basle.) The World Zionist organization was formed. He was chairman and remained so for the next five congresses. He knew Great Britain would be the deciding factor in the realization of Zionist aims. In 1917 the Balfour Declaration became the launching-pad for the founding of the modern Jewish state.

Herzl did not have an easy task. Even his own people were difficult on this issue. His heart failed in 1904. He did not live to see the creation of Israel in 1948. But in 1949 he was laid to rest, reinterred in a place that was named in his honour Mount Herzl, in Jerusalem. A Herzl monument stands nearby. The anniversary of his death on the 20th of Tammuz was declared a National Memorial Day in Israel. In the April 1983 issue of the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, following a report on Jerusalem there is a picture that could be titled: « The sorrow of the Jewish People ». There are three young Israeli ladies, soldiers, who happen to be very beautiful standing or kneeling at the Herzl Tomb site where there are three new graves…the first soldiers to die in the 1982 conflict in Lebanon.

1983 was the 50th anniversary of Hitler’s rise to power; since he was made chancellor in 1933. There was an extensive report on this subject in the April 1983 issue of the Jerusalem Post. Their man in Bonn stated: « There has been no substantial break with the past. Therefore West German Democracy must continue to be subject to question by Germans more than by anyone else. » The Post also offered these words which are worth contemplating. Perhaps you never considered this. I had not…

« The destruction that Hitler brought on his own people ranks only after the mass murder he committed on the Jews and the destruction and death rained upon the Soviet Union. He left Germany not only physically ruined, but stripped of its’ self respect, ashamed of its’ place in human history, uncertain of its’ identity, seeking refuge in the compulsive reconstruction of material damage. »

They also mentioned…

« The war Hitler unleashed and the organized mass murder that was a central part of his design cost the lives of 40 million human beings in Europe alone. Among them 6,000,000 Jews – two-thirds of the Jews in Europe. More than 6,000,000 of his own people also died and others were left hungry. »

God promised Abraham: « I will bless those who bless you (and your descendants); and I will curse those who curse you » (Genesis 12:1-3) We can see that the Germans have paid an awful price for allowing this man to lead them down a path contrary to Scripture, by declaring them to be a super race. The man who wanted to obtain the whole world, gained nothing but eternal damnation. He and those who followed him lost everything.

What about Canada?

Most of us would be quick to say that our hands are clean. A truly shocking indictment of our role in the Holocaust can be found in the book « None is Too Many ». This title was taken from a statement made by an immigration official when a delegation of Jews went to Ottawa in 1939 to ask: « How many Jews will Canada take in? » The Immigration Minister answered « None is too many ».

The authors, Irving Abella and Harold Troper, published this book in 1982 and was on the Canadian Best Sellers List. They received an award early in 1983 for it. It is thoroughly researched and documented proof that our top bureaucrat in the Immigration Department, Fred Blair, a professing Christian, wanted no Jews in Canada and did everything he could in the way of roadblocks to prevent it. In studying it I find I want to scream with the agony of our shame.

MacKenzie King didn’t want them. Perhaps he was too busy talking to his dead mother and his dead dog as he gazed into his crystal ball (all told in his published diaries). The authors record that Canada’s Prime Minister thought Hitler had a good face and that he was sweet. King was deathly afraid of what Quebec would do if he gave in and allowed in refugees. The French -Canadian press was very hostile to Jews (Le Devoir). There was also a very vocal fascist Party in Quebec; headed by Adrianne Arcand.

Blair had the opportunity to rescue thousands, but wouldn’t budge on his restrictive policy. He just didn’t want any Jewish immigrants.

Lester Pearson said that we didn’t have a boat. Ottawa would not listen either to the pleas of George Vanier; even though he was Canadian Ambassador to France and was there on the scene.

Conservative Robert Manion didn’t want any either. In the midst of all of the obstruction the Toronto Globe & Mail asked at one point « Does Canada stand for anything? » Manion wanted no Jews as long as Canadians were unemployed. Ernest LaPointe of Quebec and the Le Devoir newspaper and Vincent Massey of External Affairs wanted Jews kept out of Canada. Massey was a fringe member of the Pro-German anti-Semitic Cliveden set centred around Lord and Lady Astor in London; where Vincent was Canadian High Commissioner.

We had one social worker on the scene and her name was Charlotte Whitton, outspoken Mayor of Ottawa. She fiercely fought not to have Jewish children here as she favoured British children. She led a movement to evacuate endangered British mothers and children. The Canadian Jewish Congress saw her as an enemy of Jewish immigration. Oscar Cohen said she « almost broke up the inaugural meeting of the congress on Refugees by her insistent opposition and very apparent anti-Semitism. »

The saddest story I have ever read in my life is the whole chapter from the Abella book titled « The children that never came. » It takes care of any pride we may have in being Canadians. It is documented evidence 25 pages in length of continuous pleading on behalf of officials in places like France and Poland to take children whose lives were in immediate danger. Blair’s hard hearted efforts lead to the declaration in the end of that chapter that reads: « There were no more schemes to help…save the refugee children. None were needed. » By the time of the allied invasion of France in June 1944 most of these children had been murdered. NOT ONE of them had made it to Canada! They had been talking at times about as many as 5000.

I am happy to report that good has come out of the publishing of this book. The authors report that Lloyd Axworthy, current Minister of Immigration, apologized for the behaviour of predecessors and promised that it would never happen again. But also having read some papers by these authors prior to publication, Ron Atkey, former Conservative Minister of Immigration, took the responsibility and opened the doors to the BOAT PEOPLE because he did not want to be known as another Frederick Blair.

In « Bridges for Peace », the 1983 issue from Tulsa, Oklahoma we read about the state of anti-Semitism as in this day, media coverage is slanted.

« While some would have you believe the world is becoming a better place and anti-Semitism is on the wane, I believe that careful observation will prove otherwise. In the last two years, we have seen a growing double standard used by the media in reporting events concerning Israel. And as we saw this past summer in Greece, Italy, and France, this very distorted, even false media reporting about Israel’s involvement in Lebanon resulted in attacks against local Jewish communities solely because they were Jewish; regardless of their affiliation with Israel. For example: In France a video tape of a Palestinian boy holding his bleeding, dying sister was repeatedly shown as the result of an aggressive Jewish attack on civilians in Lebanon. Local Frenchmen, incensed by this news, staged an anti-Israel, anti-Jewish march which culminated in the bombing of synagogues and Jewish owned businesses killing many. It was later proven that this video tape was six years old and showing the destruction of the Tel-Zatar refugee camp by the SYRIANS in 1976. Jews were NOT even involved but the ugly head of Anti-Semitism had already shown itself. »

AND SO IT NEVER SEEMS TO END.

But it will. One day the Bible says we shall take the hem of the Jews’ skirt and go with them to Zion because we know God is with them. Zechariah tells us that the Lord will come and place His feet on the Mount of Olives. He will fight for His people Israel against all the nations of the world. All the land of Israel will dwell in safety and peace when the Messiah comes. He will rule and reign from Jerusalem, the Son of David, sitting on David’s throne. (Read 2 Samuel 7:11-16; and Psalm 2:6-8;and 89:20-37)

Regardless of Israel’s sins of the past the Lord will forgive, cleanse, and restore (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Christians throughout the world are awakening to a call to stand by the side of the Jewish people. Beginning in 1979 Christians in Jerusalem rallied to her side when the governments of the World began to pull their embassies out of Jerusalem in fear because of the Arab oil power. The « International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem » was established. With people like Jan Willem Van Der Hoeven and the Comfort Zion ministry of Merv and Merla Watson, Jews are beginning to be provoked to jealousy. They are watching Christian love in action; and hope is being reborn when they see 5000 Christians celebrating during the Jewish « Feast of Tabernacles », dancing with joy on Mount Zion and supporting them in their hour of need.

If Canada’s Joe Clark had kept his promise to move our embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, he would have done better. Six months after breaking his promise he ceased to be Prime Minister; and twelve months later he was removed as Leader of the Progressive-Conservative Party.

Coincidence? God hears our promises; even « election promises ». The Scripture says God will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse her. Every nation that has persecuted the Jews has, in the long run, inherited the negative side of God’s promise to Abram: « and I will curse those who curse you (and your descendants). »

SO IN CONCLUSION:

Anti-Semitism is a venomous condition of the heart of man and not just prejudice, hatred or discrimination. Jealousy and envy of the Jew more than anything else seems to be the main root of this condition. It is a spiritual problem. But Jeremiah said it best and it is truth from God’s Word… « The heart is deceitful, and desperately wicked; who can know it? ».

Anti-Semitism engages man in a conduct that is: inconceivable, unbelievable, shocking, grotesque, incomprehensible, unthinkable, inhumane and intolerable.

This information has been gleaned from Alan Lazerte’s course on anti-Semitism given at Fraserview Assembly, January, February and March 1983 as Director of the Canadian Friends of the International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Bridges for Peace-current news direct from Christians in Israel through Tulsa.

The Jerusalem Post – current news direct from Jews in Israel.

The ISRAEL POCKET LIBRARY BOOK ON ANTI-SEMITISM.

Canadian Book « None is Too Many », Irving Abella and Harold Troper.

Friends of the Christian Embassy Canada, Israel Report.

Jews’ God and History; by Max I. Dimont. A Signet Book.

The information from this course was a shock to most of us; it was an eye opener in many ways, especially regarding the Christians persecution of the Jew; which contributed to the Nazi attempt to totally exterminate them. This essay was written as a requirement of taking seriously Alan’s attempt to put the course together. He did his part as teacher excellently. God has chosen well. I was eager to learn. At Alan’ suggestion this essay is being printed to circulate to others who may not have a chance to attend the lectures. It is also printed to cement my own vow before God to bridge the gap and make amends to the Jew for the way Christians, the Canadian Government and others have failed them.

I dedicate this to the children that never came; and to my brother who died trying to stop a mad man that was on the loose in Germany.

Writers: Laureen Moe

Source: Canadian Friends, International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem

http://www.cdn-friends-icej.ca/antiholo/summanti.html

Voir également:

109 Locations whence Jews have been Expelled since AD250

YEAR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .PLACE

250 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Carthage

415 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Alexandria

554 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Diocèse of Clermont (France)

561 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Diocèse of Uzès (France)

612 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Visigoth Spain

642 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Visigoth Empire

855 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Italy

876 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Sens

1012 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Mainz

1182 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – France

1182 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Germany

1276 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Upper Bavaria

1290 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – England

1306 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – France

1322 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – France (again)

1348 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Switzerland

1349 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Hielbronn (Germany)

1349 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Saxony

1349 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Hungary

1360 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Hungary

1370 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Belgium

1380 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Slovakia

1388 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Strasbourg

1394 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Germany

1394 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – France

1420 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Lyons

1421 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Austria

1424 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Fribourg

1424 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Zurich

1424 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Cologne

1432 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Savoy

1438 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Mainz

1439 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Augsburg

1442 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Netherlands

1444 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Netherlands

1446 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Bavaria

1453 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – France

1453 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Breslau

1454 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Wurzburg

1462 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Mainz

1483 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Mainz

1484 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Warsaw

1485 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Vincenza (Italy)

1492 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Spain

1492 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Italy

1495 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Lithuania

1496 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Naples

1496 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Portugal

1498 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Nuremberg

1498 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Navarre

1510 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Brandenberg

1510 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Prussia

1514 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Strasbourg

1515 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Genoa

1519 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Regensburg

1533 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Naples

1541 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Naples

1542 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Prague & Bohemia

1550 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Genoa

1551 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Bavaria

1555 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Pesaro

1557 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Prague

1559 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Austria

1561 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Prague

1567 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Wurzburg

1569 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Papal States

1571 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Brandenburg

1582 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Netherlands

1582 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Hungary

1593 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Brandenburg, Austria

1597 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Cremona, Pavia & Lodi

1614 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Frankfort

1615 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Worms

1619 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Kiev

1648 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Ukraine

1648 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Poland

1649 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Hamburg

1654 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Little Russia (Beylorus)

1656 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Lithuania

1669 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Oran (North Africa)

1669 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Vienna

1670 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Vienna

1712 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Sandomir

1727 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Russia

1738 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Wurtemburg

1740 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Little Russia (Beylorus)

1744 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Prague, Bohemia

1744 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Slovakia

1744 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Livonia

1745 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Moravia

1753 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Kovad (Lithuania)

1761 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Bordeaux

1772 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Deported to the Pale of Settlement (Poland/Russia)

1775 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Warsaw

1789 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Alsace

1804 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Villages in Russia

1808 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Villages & Countrysides (Russia)

1815 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Lbeck & Bremen

1815 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Franconia, Swabia & Bavaria

1820 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Bremen

1843 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Russian Border Austria & Prussia

1862 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Areas in the U.S. under General Grant’s Jurisdiction[1]

1866 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Galatz, Romania

1880s – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Russia

1891 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Moscow

1919 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Bavaria (foreign born Jews)

1938-45 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Nazi Controlled Areas

1948 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Arab Countries

Reference sources for the above.

[1] On December 17, 1862, General Ulysses Grant wrote to the Assistant Adjutant General of the US Army:

« I have long since believed that in spite of all the vigilance that can be infused into post commanders, the specie regulations of the Treasury Department have been violated, and that mostly by the Jews and other unprincipled traders. So well satisfied have I been of this that I instructed the commanding officer at Columbus to refuse all permits to Jews to come South, and I have frequently had them expelled from the department. But they come in with their carpet-sacks in spite of all that can be done to prevent it. The Jews seem to be a privileged class that can travel anywhere. They will land at any woodyard on the river and make their way through the country. If not permitted to buy cotton themselves, they will act as agents for someone else, who will be at a military post with a Treasury permit to receive cotton and pay for it in Treasury notes which the Jew will buy at an agreed rate, paying gold. »

Also, on December 17, 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant issued General Orders No. 11. This order banished all Jews from Tennessee’s western military.

General Orders No. 11 declared: « 1. The Jews, as a class, violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department, are hereby expelled from the Department.

« 2. Within 24 hours from the receipt of this order by Post Commanders, they will see that all of this class of people are furnished with passes required to leave, and anyone returning after such notification, will be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners, unless furnished with permits from these headquarters.

« 3. No permits will be given these people to visit headquarters for the purpose of making personal application for trade permits.

« By order of Major Gen. Grant.

« Jno. A. Rawlings,

Assistant Adjutant General »

Voir encore:

The Bible, Violence and the Sacred: Liberation from the Myth of Sanctioned Violence. By James G. Williams.

Foreword by Rene Girard. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1991. x + 288 pages. U.S. $27.00.

In his Foreword to this book, Rene Girard repeats the thesis that has put his work at the center of controversy in religious and biblical studies (as witness the new affiliate society of the AAR, the Colloquium On Violence and Religion, or COVQR): that religion and culture derive from mimetic conflict and scapegoating violence. Since religion and culture also conceal this originary violence, our own scapegoats would be « completely invisible as scapegoats » were it not for a « revelation » that Girard finds in the Bible. In contrast to « the ‘natural religions’ of humankind, the ones rooted in arbitrary victimage, » it is in the Bible « and there only that a genuine theme or motif of the scapegoat can make its appearance. » As a consequence, « we » the inheritors of the biblical legacy share a « loudly advertised repugnance for victimage, which has no equivalent in any other society. Even if our deeds so not match our principles. . .our awareness of scapegoating is unique. . . » (pp. vii-viii). Hailing Girard’s work as « the basis for a new Christian humanism » (p. 6), Williams sets out to document the biblical  » ‘unveiling’ of the victimage mechanism in which the narrative and the God of the narrative side with the innocent victim » (p. 25), thereby revealing « God’s will for nonviolent human community » (p. 30). Noting that in Genesis Cain’s murder of Abel does not serve the mythic function for Israel that Romulus’ murder of Remus does for Rome, Williams concludes that « Israel. . .is created through a process of becoming exceptional vis-a-vis the violent structures in the midst of which it came to be » (p. 30). The pattern of « enemy brothers » in the Genesis narratives, ideal for an analysis of mimetic conflict, shows Israel’s ancestors repeatedly transcending the logic of sacrificial exchange (chapter 2). Similarly, the chaos and mimetic conflicts that saturate the Exodus account show the Book Reviews real experience of a people emerging from the victimage dynamics of Egyptian sacral kingship (although Williams contrasts the Exodus account not with ancient Egyptian mythology, but with much later Helle- nistic Egyptian myths of the Exodus as an expulsion of a diseased popula- tion). The increasing significance of Moses in subsequent Pentateuchal traditions reflects the gradual externalization of Israel’s own mimetic con- flict (chapter 3), a conflict that is channeled and controlled by the system of prohibitions that makes up the covenant (chapter 4). That this cove- nant includes a sacrificial system, requires the ritual surrender of the firstborn (echoing God’s destruction of the Egyptian firstborn), and retains narratives of the tremendous violence of the Levites (Exodus 32), shows that « Israel. . .has not extricated itself completely from the mythi- cal camouflage of the victimization mechanism » (p. 120). The revelation that Williams finds « struggling to make itself known in the covenant. . .reaches a new stage of clarity with the great prophets » (p. 127). Williams sees the prophets as doubles of the kings, alike « called » by God, i.e., excluded from the community, « to assume a special responsi- bilityfor those who are likewise expelled, excluded, or marginal » (p. 131). If this calling was « given only ideological lip service » by kings « once power was centralized, » so that the king’s power « resided in his ability to control the mechanism » of sacrificial exchange, the figure of the prophet repre- sented by the canon represents a « radical ‘throwback,’  » standing out from the community structures of violence « in order to stand for both the community and its victims » (p. 143); in this development Williams sees « the chief dynamic of revelation and Scripture » (p. 147). What emerges is a comprehensive proposal for a biblical theology of the nonviolent God. The obvious methodological question, how this theology can be derived from texts saturated with violence, is answered when Williams turns (in chapter 6) to the story of Job, who refuses to cooperate in his own scapegoating by his neighbors. Aware of the complexities of competing voices and messages in the canonical form of the book, Williams declares that « the first obligation of the interpreter who stands in service to the biblical tradition of the disclosure of the innocent victim and the God of victims is not to the text as such but to the victim and to the God of love and justice » (p. 172). Despite Williams’ obvious acumen as a literary critic, he repeatedly distinguishes his reading of the Bible from post-modern methodologies, and even laments the « antirevelation and antitheology values » dominant in « the current intellectual situa- tion » (p. 186). We as human beings are always « involved in the mimetic predicament, » from which we must be extricated by a revelation « from outside ourselves. » « The revelation of God is the disclosure of (1) the standpoint of the victim. . .and (2) the divine-human community of nonviolence » (p. 187). This is a coherent theological position, but a fragile one: for Williams echoes Girard’s polemic against postmodern method, which undermines 187 188 and subverts biblical authority and « elevates the critic to the status of high priest controlling the knowledge of text and tradition » (p. 210). This is disingenuous. A glance at history shows that the Christian gospel has usually not been identified with the revelation of nonviolence, and Wil- liams makes no claim to speak from a community historically committed to nonviolence (as theologians from the « peace churches » frequently do). The result is that he must himself write as a virtuoso critic (despite demurrals like that on p. 213), asking us to share his vision of a nonvio- lent God partially revealed, yet partially concealed by the biblical text, a position analogous to that of Marcion in the second century. – This dilemma is nowhere more evident than in Williams’ discussion of the Gospels (chapters 7 and 8), which he declares to be « the culmina- tion of the Israelite-Jewish tradition of revelation, » for even here Williams must admit that « sacrificial language still has a strong hold. » He thus departs from Girard, more dramatically than he allows (p. 188), for Girard has repeatedly insisted that « the sacrificial reading of Christianity » is a perverse misconstrual of the Gospels (especially perverse, one presumes, when those who perceive and criticize sacrificial aspects of the Gospels are themselves Christian theologians). Such criticism, Girard has declared, is « a waste of time »: « Among the foolish undertakings of mankind, there is none more ridiculous than this » (The Scapegoat, trans. Yvonne Frecerro [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 19861, p. 109). Williams echoes Girard’s protest, portraying Gospel critics within the academy as overwhelmed by mimetic rivalry-« everyone tries to outdo everyone else in being against victimization and oppression of every sort, against ethnocentrism, and finally, basically, against Christianity » (p. 186)-but one feels his heart is not really in that fight: he is too aware of the critical problems the Gospels present to Girard’s program; and, after all, he himself takes « the standpoint of the victim » as his hermeneutical principle (p. 239). At times, Williams’ recognition of critical problems in the Gospels tends to undermine the Giraridan reading (a problem Girard avoids in his writings through the ritual expulsion of the critic). Williams labors over the difficulty of sacrificial language in the Gospels, chiefly Jesus’ declaration that the Son of Man « gives his life as a ransom [lytron] for many » (Mark 10:45). He admits that lytron is « an unmistakably sacrificial word that would be readily understood as such, » but offers in place of this « readily understood » meaning a Girardian gloss: « The human condition is such that only the price of the Son of Man’s suffering and death will have the effect of loosening the bonds of the sacred social structure, enabling human beings to see what their predicament is and the kind of faith and action that will bring liberation » (pp. 224, 202). That what the text means is so different from what it says reflects the tragic bondage of human language: « sacrificial language is used, necessarily, in order to break out of a sacrificial view of the world » (p. 224). Journal of the American Academy of Religion Book Reviews Again, Williams gives tremendous weight to Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple (Mark 11:15-19 and parallels), arguing that since « the Temple was the center of the sacred in Judaism, » Jesus’ action represented « an attack on the entire sacrijcial system » (p. 193). He recognizes, however, that Pharisees, Essenes, and various other apocalyptic communal movements were not centered on the Temple (pp. 193, 228). This suggests that Mark’s attempt to link the response of the « crowd » to Jesus with the over- throw of the Temple is artificial. Williams is aware that Mark writes in a specific historical context after the destruction of the Temple (p. 226), but (in defiance of a century of Gospel scholarship) refuses on principle to separate Mark’s theological agenda from the historical context of Jesus’ action: this, the « supreme act of critical differentiating, » would serve only to « deny the authority of the Gospels and to elevate the critic to the status of high priest » (p. 210). At length, however, Williams declares that the biblical critic who wants to find in the Gospels the revelation of the nonviolent God is thrown back upon « faithu-« faith that what is revealed there through human language and culture comes from beyond this setting, where dif- ferences rage in combat with confusion » (p. 231). But this standpoint implicitly challenges the sovereign « authority of the Gospels, » a posture with which other biblical scholars and theologians are increasingly comfortable. In a final chapter Williams offers a sampling of his personal views on current issues from the perspective of Girard’s theory, from abortion (« the perfect example of the innocent victim. . .is the child, particularly the infant and the fetus in the womb, » p. 253), to the addictive nature of American capitalism, to the Persian Gulf War. Guided by a belief that « the destiny of the United States is part of a Spirit-guided historical pro- cess that is decisively centered in the disclosure of the Innocent Victim and is moving toward God’s good end of judgment and restoration of all things » (p. 241), he sees the United States as « the most mythical of nations and the supreme scapegoat nation, » by which he means that « the ills of the world are transferred to our doing, to our reality, whether or not we have any connection with them or not » (p. 243). This is particularly disingenuous in the immediate context, where Williams speaks of the Ira- nian revolution: he notes « the Iranian tendency, even after Khomeini, to impute every misfortune to the ‘Great Satan’ America, » but says nothing, for example, of Norman Schwarzkopf’s contributions in organizing the murderous Savak. Williams rehearses the conventional U.S. legitimations of the Gulf War, considering the rightness of the U.S. « requirement for oil » as self-evident as Hussein’s « quest for power and acclaim in the Arab world » (p. 244). Given the immensity of the Gulf War horror, these pages read as a confirmation of Girard’s words in the Preface: « the only scape- goats easy to detect as such are those of our enemies; the scapegoats of 189 190 our friends are harder to seed, and, if they happen to be ours as well, they are completely invisible as scapegoats » (p. viii). The great value of the book is Williams’ critical erudition, which offers substantiation and, in places, qualifications to Girard’s reading of the Bible. Alongside works like Walter Wink’s Engaging the Powers: Dis- cernment and Resistance in a World of Domination (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1992) and Jim Douglass’ The Nonviolent Coming of God (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1991), this book represents an emerging biblical theol- ogy of nonviolence. Girard’s theory continues to be an integral, if contro- versial, element in the development of that theology in the 1990s. The book includes a general index. Journal of the American Academy of Religion Neil Elliott College of St. Catherine St. Paul, MN 55105The Bible, Violence and the Sacred: Liberation from the Myth of Sanctioned Violence. B y James G. Williams. Foreword by Rene Girard.

San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1991. x + 288 pages. U.S.

$27.00.

 Voir aussi:

LE BOUC EMISSAIRE

René Girard (chapitre I)

Le poète et musicien Guillaume de Machaut écrivait au milieu du XIVe siècle. Son Jugement du Roy de Navarre mériterait d’être mieux connu. La partie principale de l’œuvre, certes, n’est qu’un long poème de style courtois, conventionnel de style et de sujet. Mais le début a quelque chose de saisissant. C’est une suite confuse d’événements catastrophiques auxquels Guillaume prétend avoir assisté avant de s’enfermer, finalement, de terreur dans sa maison pour y attendre la mort ou la fin de l’indicible épreuve. Certains événements sont tout à fait invraisemblables, d’autres ne le sont qu’à demi. Et pourtant de ce récit une impression se dégage : il a dû se passer quelque chose de réel. Il y a des signes dans le ciel. Les pierres pleuvent et assomment les vivants. Des villes entières sont détruites par la foudre. Dans celle où résidait Guillaume – il ne dit pas laquelle – les hommes meurent en grand nombre. Certaines de ces morts sont dues à la méchanceté des juifs et de leurs complices parmi les chrétiens. Comment ces gens-là s’y prenaient-ils pour causer de vastes pertes dans la population locale? Ils empoisonnaient les rivières, les sources d’approvisionnement en eau potable. La justice céleste a mis bon ordre à ces méfaits en révélant leurs auteurs à la population qui les a tous massacrés. Et pourtant les gens n’ont pas cessé de mourir, de plus en plus nombreux, jusqu’à un certain jour de printemps où Guillaume entendit de la musique dans la rue, des hommes et des femmes qui riaient. Tout était fini et la poésie courtoise pouvait recommencer. Depuis ses origines aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles, la critique moderne consiste à ne pas faire aux textes une confiance aveugle. Beaucoup de bons esprits, à notre époque, croient faire progresser encore la perspicacité critique en exigeant une méfiance toujours accrue. A force d’être interprétés et réinterprétés par les générations successives d’historiens, des textes qui paraissaient naguère porteurs d’information réelle sont aujourd’hui soupçonnés. Les épistémologues et les philosophes, d’autre part, traversent une crise radicale qui contribue à l’ébranlement de ce qu’on appelait jadis la science historique. Tous les intellectuels habitués à se nourrir de textes se réfugient dans des considérations désabusées sur l’impossibilité de toute interprétation certaine. Au premier abord, le texte de Guillaume de Machaut peut passer pour vulnérable au climat actuel de scepticisme en matière de certitude historique. Après quelques instants de réflexion, pourtant, même aujourd’hui, les lecteurs repèrent des événements réels à travers les invraisemblances du récit. Ils ne croient ni aux signes dans le ciel ni aux accusations contre les juifs mais ils ne traitent pas tous les thèmes incroyables de la même façon; ils ne les mettent pas tous sur le même plan. Guillaume n’a rien inventé. C’est un homme crédule, certes, et il reflète une opinion publique hystérique. Les innombrables morts dont il fait état n’en sont pas moins réelles, causées de toute évidence par la fameuse peste noire qui ravagea la France en 1349 et 1350. Le massacre des juifs est également réel, justifié aux yeux des foules meurtrières par les rumeurs d’empoisonnement qui circulent un peu partout. C’est la terreur universelle de la maladie qui donne un poids suffisant à ces rumeurs pour déclencher lesdits massacres. Voici le passage du Jugement du Roy de Navarre qui traite des juifs : Après ce, vint une merdaille Fausse, traître et renoïe : Ce fu Judée la honnie, La mauvaise, la desloyal, Qui bien het et aimme tout mal, Qui tant donna d’or et d’argent Et promist a crestienne gent, Que puis, rivieres et fonteinnes Qui estoient cleres et seinnes En plusieurs lieus empoisonnerent, Dont pluseurs leurs vies finerent ; Car trestuit cil qui en usoient Assez soudeinnement moroient. Dont, certes, par dis fois cent mille En morurent, qu’a champ, qu’a ville. Einsois que fust aperceuë Ceste mortel deconvenue. Mais cils qui haut siet et louing voit, Qui tout gouverne et tout pourvoit, Ceste traïson plus celer Ne volt, enis la fist reveler Et si generalement savoir Qu’ils perdirent corps et avoir. Car tuit Juif furent destruit, Li uns pendus, li autres cuit, L’autre noié, l’autre ot copée La teste de hache ou d’espée. Et maint crestien ensement En morurent honteusement1.

Les communautés médiévales redoutaient tellement la peste que son nom même les effrayait; elles évitaient aussi longtemps que possible de le prononcer et même de prendre les mesures qui s’imposaient, au risque d’aggraver les conséquences des épidémies. Leur impuissance était telle qu’avouer la vérité, ce n’était pas faire face à la situation mais plutôt s’abandonner à ses effets désagrégateurs, renoncer à tout semblant de vie normale. La population tout entière s’associait volontiers à ce type d’aveuglement. Cette volonté désespérée de nier l’évidence favorisait la chasse aux « boucs émissaires 2 ». Dans les Animaux malades de la peste, La Fontaine suggère admirablement cette répugnance quasi religieuse à énoncer le terme terrifiant, à déchaîner en quelque sorte sa puissance maléfique dans la communauté : La peste (puisqu’il faut l’appeler par son nom)…

Le fabuliste nous fait assister au processus de la mauvaise foi collective qui consiste à identifier dans l’épidémie un châtiment divin. Le dieu de colère est irrité par une culpabilité qui n’est pas également partagée par tous. Pour écarter le fléau, il faut découvrir le coupable et le traiter en conséquence ou plutôt, comme écrit La Fontaine, le « dévouer » à la divinité. Les premiers interrogés, dans la fable, sont des bêtes de proie qui décrivent benoîtement leur comportement de bête de proie, lequel est tout de suite excusé. L’âne vient en dernier et c’est lui, pas du tout sanguinaire et, de ce fait, le plus faible et le moins protégé, qui se voit, en fin de compte, désigné. Dans certaines villes, pensent les historiens, les juifs se firent massacrer avant l’arrivée de la peste, au seul bruit de sa présence dans le voisinage. Le récit de Guillaume pourrait correspondre à un phénomène de ce genre car le massacre se produisit bien avant le paroxysme de l’épidémie. Mais les nombreuses morts attribuées par l’auteur au poison judaïque suggèrent une autre explication. Si ces morts sont réelles – et il n’y a pas de raison de les tenir pour imaginaires – elles pourraient bien être les premières victimes d’un seul et même fléau. Mais Guillaume ne s’en doute pas, même rétrospectivement. A ses yeux les boucs émissaires traditionnels conservent leur puissance explicatrice pour les premiers stades de l’épidémie. Pour les stades ultérieurs, seulement, l’auteur reconnaît la présence d’un phénomène proprement pathologique. L’étendue du désastre finit par décourager la seule explication par le complot des empoisonneurs, mais Guillaume ne réinterprète pas la suite entière des événements en fonction de leur raison d’être véritable. On peut d’ailleurs se demander jusqu’à quel point le poète reconnaît la présence de la peste car il évite jusqu’au bout d’écrire noir sur blanc le mot fatal. Au moment décisif, il introduit avec solennité le terme grec et encore rare, semble-t-il, d’epydimie. Ce mot ne fonctionne pas, visiblement, dans son texte comme il ferait dans le nôtre; ce n’est pas un véritable équivalent du terme redouté, c’est plutôt une espèce de substitut, un nouveau procédé pour ne pas appeler la peste par son nom, un nouveau bouc émissaire en somme mais purement linguistique cette fois. Il n’a jamais été possible, nous dit Guillaume, de déterminer la nature et la cause de la maladie dont tant de gens moururent en si peu de temps : Ne fusicien n’estoit, ne mire Qui bien sceüst la cause dire Dont ce venoit, ne que c’estoit (Ne nuls remede n’y metoit), Fors tant que c’estoit maladie Qu’on appelloit epydimie. Sur ce point encore, Guillaume préfère s’en remettre à l’opinion publique plutôt que de penser par lui-même. Du mot savant d’epydimie se dégage, semble-t-il, un parfum de « scientificité » qui contribue à refouler l’angoisse, un peu comme ces fumigations odoriférantes qu’on pratiquait longtemps au coin des rues pour tempérer les effluves pestilentiels. Une maladie bien nommée paraît à demi guérie et pour se donner une fausse impression de maîtrise on rebaptise fréquemment les phénomènes immaîtrisables. Ces exorcismes verbaux n’ont pas cessé de nous séduire dans tous les domaines où notre science demeure illusoire ou inefficace. En se refusant à la nommer c’est la peste elle-même, en somme, qu’on « dévoue » à la divinité. Il y a là comme un sacrifice langagier assez innocent, certes, comparé aux sacrifices humains qui l’accompagnent ou le précèdent, mais analogue dans sa structure essentielle. Même rétrospectivement, tous les boucs émissaires collectifs réels et imaginaires, les juifs et les flagellants, les pluies de pierre et l’epydimie, continuent à jouer leur rôle si efficacement dans le récit de Guillaume que celui-ci ne voit jamais l’unité du fléau désigné par nous comme la « peste noire ». L’auteur continue à percevoir une multiplicité de désastres plus ou moins indépendants ou reliés les uns aux autres seulement par leur signification religieuse, un peu comme les dix plaies d’Egypte. Tout ce que je viens de dire, ou presque, est évident. Nous comprenons tous le récit de Guillaume de la même façon et mes lecteurs n’ont pas besoin de moi. Il n’est pourtant pas inutile d’insister sur cette lecture dont l’audace et la puissance nous échappent, précisément parce qu’elle est admise par tous, parce qu’elle n’est pas controversée. L’unanimité s’est faite autour d’elle il y a littéralement des siècles et jamais elle ne s’est défaite. C’est d’autant plus remarquable qu’il s’agit d’une réinterprétation radicale. Nous rejetons sans hésiter le sens que l’auteur donne à son texte. Nous affirmons qu’il ne sait pas ce qu’il dit. A plusieurs siècles de distance, nous autres, modernes, le savons mieux que lui et nous sommes capables de rectifier son dire. Nous nous croyons à même de repérer une vérité que l’auteur n’a pas vue et, par une audace plus grande encore, nous n’hésitons pas à affirmer que cette vérité, c’est lui qui nous l’apporte, en dépit de son aveuglement. Est-ce à dire que cette interprétation ne mérite pas l’adhésion massive dont elle fait l’objet; nous montrons-nous à son égard d’une indulgence excessive? Pour discréditer un témoignage judiciaire, il suffit de prouver que, même sur un seul point, le témoin manque d’impartialité. En règle générale nous traitons les documents historiques comme des témoignages judiciaires. Or, nous transgressons cette règle en faveur d’un Guillaume de Machaut qui ne mérite peut-être pas ce traitement privilégié. Nous affirmons la réalité des persécutions mentionnées dans Le Jugement du Roy de Navarre. Nous prétendons tirer du vrai, en somme, d’un texte qui se trompe grossièrement sur des points essentiels. Si nous avons des raisons de nous méfier de ce texte, nous devrions peut-être le tenir pour entièrement suspect et renoncer à fonder sur lui la moindre certitude, sans excepter le fait brut de la persécution. D’où vient donc l’assurance étonnante de notre affirmation : des juifs ont été réellement massacrés. Une première réponse se présente à l’esprit. Nous ne lisons pas ce texte isolément. Il existe d’autres textes de la même époque; ils traitent des mêmes sujets; certains d’entre eux valent mieux que celui de Guillaume. Leurs auteurs s’y montrent moins crédules. A eux tous, ils forment un réseau serré de connaissances historiques au sein duquel nous replaçons le texte de Guillaume. C’est grâce à ce contexte, surtout, que nous réussissons à partager le vrai du faux dans le passage que j’ai cité. Il est vrai que les persécutions antisémites de la peste noire constituent un ensemble de faits relativement bien connu. Il y a là tout un savoir déjà constitué et il suscite en nous une certaine attente. Le texte de Guillaume répond à cette attente. Cette perspective n’est pas fausse sur le plan de notre expérience individuelle et du contact immédiat avec le texte, mais du point de vue théorique elle n’est pas satisfaisante. Le réseau de connaissances historiques existe, certes, mais les documents qui le composent ne sont jamais beaucoup plus sûrs que le texte de Guillaume, soit pour des raisons analogues, soit pour des raisons différentes. Et nous ne pouvons pas situer Guillaume parfaitement dans ce contexte puisque nous ne savons pas, je l’ai déjà dit, où se déroulent les événements qu’il nous rapporte. C’est peut-être à Paris, c’est peut-être à Reims, c’est peut-être dans une troisième ville. De toute façon le contexte ne joue pas un rôle décisif; même s’il n’en était pas informé, le lecteur moderne aboutirait à la lecture que j’ai donnée. Il conclurait à la probabilité de victimes injustement massacrées. Il penserait donc que le texte dit faux, puisque ces victimes sont innocentes, mais il penserait simultanément que le texte dit vrai, puisque les victimes sont réelles. Il finirait toujours par distinguer le vrai du faux exactement comme nous le distinguons nous-mêmes. Qu’est-ce qui nous donne ce pouvoir? Ne convient-il pas de se guider systématiquement sur le principe du panier de pommes tout entier bon à jeter pour peu qu’il en contienne une seule de gâtée ? Ne doit-on pas soupçonner ici une défaillance du soupçon, un reste de naïveté dont l’hypercritique contemporaine aurait déjà fait place nette si on lui laissait le champ libre ? Ne faut-il pas avouer que toute connaissance historique est incertaine et qu’on ne peut rien tirer d’un texte tel que le nôtre, pas même la réalité d’une persécution ? A toutes ces questions il faut répondre par un non catégorique. Le scepticisme sans nuances ne tient pas compte de la nature propre du texte. Entre les données vraisemblables de ce texte et les données invraisemblables il existe un rapport très particulier. Au départ, certes, le lecteur ne peut pas dire : ceci est faux, ceci est vrai. Il ne voit que des thèmes plus ou moins incroyables et croyables. Les morts qui se multiplient sont croyables ; il pourrait s’agir d’une épidémie. Mais les empoisonnements ne le sont guère, surtout à l’échelle massive décrite par Guillaume. Le XIVe siècle ne possède pas de substances capables de produire des effets aussi nocifs. La haine de l’auteur pour les prétendus coupables est explicite ; elle rend sa thèse extrêmement suspecte. On ne peut pas reconnaître ces deux types de données sans constater, au moins implicitement, qu’ils réagissent l’un sur l’autre. S’il y a vraiment une épidémie, elle pourrait bien enflammer les préjugés qui sommeillent. L’appétit persécuteur se polarise volontiers sur les minorités religieuses, surtout en temps de crise. Réciproquement, une persécution réelle pourrait bien se justifier par le type d’accusation dont Guillaume se fait crédulement l’écho. Un poète tel que lui ne devrait pas être particulièrement sanguinaire. S’il ajoute foi aux histoires qu’il raconte c’est sans doute qu’on y ajoute foi autour de lui. Le texte suggère donc une opinion publique surexcitée, prête à accueillir les rumeurs les plus absurdes. Il suggère, en somme, un état de choses propice aux massacres dont l’auteur nous affirme qu’ils se sont réellement produits. Dans le contexte des représentations invraisemblables, la vraisemblance des autres se confirme et se transforme en probabilité. La réciproque est vraie. Dans le contexte des représentations vraisemblables, l’invraisemblance des autres ne peut guère relever d’une « fonction fabulatrice » qui s’exercerait gratuitement, pour le plaisir d’inventer de la fiction. Nous reconnaissons l’imaginaire, certes, mais pas n’importe quel imaginaire, c’est l’imaginaire spécifique des hommes en appétit de violence. Entre toutes les représentations du texte, par conséquent, il existe une convenance réciproque, une correspondance dont on ne peut rendre compte que par une seule hypothèse. Le texte que nous lisons doit s’enraciner dans une persécution réelle, rapportée dans la perspective des persécuteurs. Cette perspective est forcément trompeuse en ceci que les persécuteurs sont convaincus du bien-fondé de leur violence ; ils se prennent pour des justiciers, il leur faut donc des victimes coupables, mais cette perspective est partiellement véridique car la certitude d’avoir raison encourage ces mêmes persécuteurs à ne rien dissimuler de leurs massacres. Devant un texte du type Guillaume de Machaut, il est légitime de suspendre la règle générale selon laquelle l’ensemble d’un texte ne vaut jamais mieux, sous le rapport de l’information réelle, que la pire de ses données. Si le texte décrit des circonstances favorables à la persécution, s’il nous présente des victimes appartenant au type que les persécuteurs ont l’habitude de choisir, et si, pour plus de certitude encore, il présente ces victimes comme coupables du type de crimes que les persécuteurs attribuent, en règle générale, à leurs victimes, il y a de grandes chances pour que la persécution soit réelle. Si le texte lui-même affirme cette réalité, il y a plus de raisons de l’accepter que de la rejeter. Dès qu’on pressent la perspective des persécuteurs, l’absurdité des accusations, loin de compromettre la valeur d’information d’un texte, renforce sa crédibilité mais sous le rapport seulement des violences dont il se fait lui-même l’écho. Si Guillaume avait ajouté des histoires d’infanticide rituel à son affaire d’empoisonnement, son compte rendu serait plus invraisemblable encore mais il n’en résulterait aucune diminution de certitude quant à la réalité des massacres qu’il nous rapporte. Plus les accusations sont invraisemblables dans ce genre de textes, plus elles renforcent la vraisemblance des massacres : elles nous confirment la présence d’un contexte psychosocial au sein duquel les massacres devaient presque certainement se produire. Inversement, le thème des massacres, juxtaposé à celui de l’épidémie, fournit le contexte historique au sein duquel même un intellectuel en principe raffiné pourrait prendre au sérieux son histoire d’empoisonnement. Les représentations persécutrices nous mentent, indubitablement, mais d’une façon trop caractéristique des persécuteurs en général et des persécuteurs médiévaux en particulier pour que le texte ne dise pas vrai sur tous les points où il confirme les conjectures suggérées par la nature même de son mensonge. Quand c’est la réalité de leurs persécutions que les persécuteurs probables affirment, ils méritent qu’on leur fasse confiance. C’est la combinaison de deux types de données qui engendre la certitude. Si l’on ne rencontrait cette combinaison qu’à de rares exemples cette certitude ne serait pas complète. Mais la fréquence est trop grande pour que le doute soit possible. Seule la persécution réelle, envisagée dans l’optique des persécuteurs, peut expliquer la conjonction régulière de ces données. Notre interprétation de tous les textes est statistiquement certaine. Ce caractère statistique ne signifie pas que la certitude repose sur la pure et simple accumulation de documents tous également incertains. Cette certitude est de plus haute qualité. Tout document du type Guillaume de Machaut a une valeur considérable parce qu’on retrouve en lui le vraisemblable et l’invraisemblable agencés de telle façon que chacun explique et légitime la présence de l’autre. Si notre certitude a un caractère statistique, c’est parce que n’importe quel document, envisagé isolément, pourrait être l’œuvre d’un faussaire. Les chances sont faibles mais elles ne sont pas nulles au niveau du document individuel. Au niveau du grand nombre, en revanche, elles sont nulles. La solution réaliste que le monde occidental et moderne a adoptée pour démystifier les « textes de persécution » est la seule possible et elle est certaine parce qu’elle rend parfaitement compte de toutes les données qui figurent dans ce type de textes. Ce ne sont pas l’humanitarisme ou l’idéologie qui nous la dictent, ce sont des raisons intellectuelles décisives. Cette interprétation n’a pas usurpé le consensus unanime dont elle fait l’objet. L’histoire n’a pas de résultats plus solides à nous offrir. Pour l’historien « des mentalités », un témoignage en principe digne de foi, c’est-à-dire le témoignage d’un homme qui ne partage pas les illusions d’un Guillaume de Machaut, n’aura jamais autant de valeur que le témoignage indigne des persécuteurs, ou de leurs complices, plus fortement parce que inconsciemment révélateur. Le document décisif est celui de persécuteurs assez naïfs pour ne pas effacer les traces de leurs crimes, à la différence de certains persécuteurs modernes, trop avisés pour laisser derrière eux des documents qui pourraient être utilisés contre eux. J’appelle naïfs les persécuteurs encore assez persuadés de leur bon droit et pas assez méfiants pour maquiller ou censurer les données caractéristiques de leur persécution. Celles-ci apparaissent dans leurs textes tantôt sous une forme véridique et directement révélatrice, tantôt sous une forme trompeuse mais indirectement révélatrice. Toutes les données sont fortement stéréotypées et c’est la combinaison des deux types de stéréotypes, les véridiques et les trompeurs, qui nous renseigne sur la nature de ces textes. ? Nous savons tous repérer, aujourd’hui, les stéréotypes de la persécution. Il y a là un savoir qui s’est banalisé mais qui n’existait pas ou très peu au XIVe siècle. Les persécuteurs naïfs ne savent pas ce qu’ils font. Ils ont trop bonne conscience pour tromper sciemment leurs lecteurs et ils présentent les choses telles que réellement ils les voient. Ils ne se doutent pas qu’en rédigeant leurs comptes rendus ils donnent des armes contre eux-mêmes à la postérité. C’est vrai au XVIe siècle pour la tristement fameuse « chasse aux sorcières ». C’est encore vrai de nos jours pour les régions « arriérées » de notre planète. Nous nageons donc en pleine banalité et le lecteur trouve ennuyeuses, peut-être, les évidences premières que je lui assène. Qu’il m’en excuse, mais on verra bientôt que ce n’est pas inutile; il suffit, parfois, d’un déplacement minuscule pour rendre insolite, inconcevable même, ce qui va sans dire dans le cas de Guillaume de Machaut. En parlant comme je le fais, le lecteur peut déjà le constater, je contredis certains principes que de nombreux critiques tiennent pour sacro-saints. Jamais, me dit-on toujours, il ne faut faire violence au texte. Face à Guillaume de Machaut, le choix est clair : ou bien on fait violence au texte ou bien on laisse se perpétuer la violence du texte contre des victimes innocentes. Certains principes qui paraissent universellement valables de nos jours parce qu’ils fournissent, semble-t-il, d’excellents garde-fous contre les excès de certains interprètes peuvent entraîner des conséquences néfastes auxquelles n’ont pas songé ceux qui croient avoir tout prévu en les tenant pour inviolables. On va partout répétant que le premier devoir du critique est de respecter la signification des textes. Peut-on soutenir ce principe jusqu’au bout devant la « littérature » d’un Guillaume de Machaut? Une autre lubie contemporaine fait piètre figure à la lumière de Guillaume de Machaut, ou plutôt de la lecture que nous en donnons tous, sans hésiter, et c’est la façon désinvolte dont nos critiques littéraires congédient désormais ce qu’ils appellent le « référent ». Dans le jargon linguistique de notre époque, le référent c’est la chose même dont un texte entend parler, à savoir ici le massacre des juifs perçus comme responsables de l’empoisonnement des chrétiens. Depuis une vingtaine d’années on nous répète que le référent est à peu près inaccessible. Peu importe d’ailleurs que nous soyons ou ne soyons pas capables d’y accéder; le souci naïf du référent ne peut qu’entraver, paraît-il, l’étude moderne de la textualité. Seuls comptent désormais les rapports toujours équivoques et glissants du langage avec lui-même. Tout n’est pas toujours à rejeter dans cette perspective mais à l’appliquer de façon scolaire on risque de voir en Ernest Hoeppfner, l’éditeur de Guillaume dans la vénérable Société des anciens textes, le seul critique vraiment idéal de cet écrivain. Son introduction parle de poésie courtoise en effet, mais il n’y est jamais question du massacre des juifs pendant la peste noire. Le passage de Guillaume, cité plus haut, constitue un bon exemple de ce que j’ai nommé dans Des choses cachées depuis la fondation du monde les « textes de persécution 3 ». J’entends par là les comptes rendus de violences réelles, souvent collectives, rédigés dans la perspective des persécuteurs, et affectés, par conséquent, de distorsions caractéristiques. Il faut repérer ces distorsions pour les rectifier et pour déterminer la réalité de toutes les violences que le texte de persécution présente comme justifiées. Il n’est pas nécessaire d’examiner longuement le compte rendu d’un procès de sorcellerie pour constater qu’on y retrouve la même combinaison de données réelles et de données imaginaires mais nullement gratuites que nous avons rencontrée dans le texte de Guillaume de Machaut. Tout est présenté comme vrai et nous n’en croyons rien mais nous n’en croyons pas pour autant que tout est faux. Nous n’avons aucune peine, pour l’essentiel, à faire le partage du vrai et du faux. Là aussi les chefs d’accusation paraissent ridicules même si la sorcière les tient pour réels, et même s’il y a lieu de penser que ses aveux n’ont pas été obtenus par la torture. L’accusée peut fort bien se prendre pour une sorcière véritable. Peut-être s’est-elle réellement efforcée de nuire à ses voisins par des procédés magiques. Nous n’en jugeons pas pour autant qu’elle mérite la mort. Il n’y a pas pour nous de procédés magiques efficaces. Nous admettons sans peine que la victime puisse partager avec ses bourreaux la même foi dérisoire en l’efficacité de la sorcellerie mais cette foi ne nous atteint pas nous-mêmes ; notre scepticisme n’en est pas ébranlé. Pendant ces procès aucune voix ne s’élève pour rétablir, ou plutôt pour établir la vérité. Personne n’est encore capable de le faire. C’est dire que nous avons contre nous, contre l’interprétation que nous donnons de leurs propres textes, non seulement les juges et les témoins mais les accusées elles-mêmes. Cette unanimité ne nous impressionne pas. Les auteurs de ces documents étaient là et nous n’y étions pas. Nous ne disposons d’aucune information qui ne vienne d’eux. Et pourtant, à plusieurs siècles de distance, un historien solitaire, ou même le premier individu venu se juge habilité à casser la sentence prononcée contre les sorcières4. C’est la même réinterprétation radicale que dans l’exemple de Guillaume de Machaut, la même audace dans le bouleversement des textes, c’est la même opération intellectuelle et c’est la même certitude, fondée sur le même type de raisons. La présence de données imaginaires ne nous amène pas à considérer l’ensemble du texte comme imaginaire. Bien au contraire. Les accusations incroyables ne diminuent pas mais renforcent la crédibilité des autres données. Ici encore nous avons un rapport qui semble paradoxal mais en réalité ne l’est pas entre l’improbabilité et la probabilité des données qui entrent dans la composition des textes. C’est en fonction de ce rapport, généralement informulé mais néanmoins présent à notre esprit que nous évaluons la quantité et la qualité de l’information susceptible d’être extraite de notre texte. Si le document est de nature légale, les résultats sont d’habitude aussi positifs ou même plus positifs encore que dans le cas de Guillaume de Machaut. Il est dommage que la plupart des comptes rendus aient été brûlés en même temps que les sorcières elles-mêmes. Les accusations sont absurdes et la sentence injuste mais les textes sont rédigés avec le souci d’exactitude et de clarté qui caractérise, en règle générale, les documents légaux. Notre confiance est donc bien placée. Elle ne permet pas de soupçonner que nous sympathisons secrètement avec les chasseurs de sorcières. L’historien qui regarderait toutes les données d’un procès comme également fantaisistes sous prétexte que certaines d’entre elles sont entachées de distorsions persécutrices ne connaîtrait rien à son affaire et ses collègues ne le prendraient pas au sérieux. La critique la plus efficace ne consiste pas à assimiler toutes les données du texte à la plus invraisemblable sous prétexte qu’on péchera toujours par défaut et jamais par excès de méfiance. Une fois de plus le principe de la méfiance sans limites doit s’effacer devant la règle d’or des textes de persécution. La mentalité persécutrice suscite un certain type d’illusion et les traces de cette illusion confirment plutôt qu’elles n’infirment la présence, derrière le texte qui en fait lui-même état, d’un certain type d’événement, la persécution elle-même, la mise à mort de la sorcière. Il n’est donc pas difficile, je le répète, de démêler le vrai du faux qui ont l’un et l’autre un caractère assez fortement stéréotypé. Pour bien comprendre le pourquoi et le comment de l’assurance extraordinaire dont nous faisons preuve devant les textes de persécution, il faut énumérer et décrire les stéréotypes. Là non plus, la tâche n’est pas difficile. Il ne s’agit jamais que d’expliciter un savoir que nous possédons déjà mais dont nous ne soupçonnons pas la portée car nous ne le dégageons jamais de façon systématique. Le savoir en question reste pris dans les exemples concrets auxquels nous l’appliquons et ceux-ci appartiennent toujours au domaine de l’histoire, surtout occidentale. Jamais encore nous n’avons essayé d’appliquer ce savoir en dehors de ce domaine, par exemple aux univers dits « ethnologiques ». C’est pour rendre cette tentative possible que je vais maintenant ébaucher, de façon sommaire d’ailleurs, une typologie des stéréotypes de la persécution. 1 Œuvres de Guillaume de Machaut, publiées par Ernest Hoeppfner, I, Le Jugement du Roy de Navarre , Société des anciens textes français, 1908, pp. 144-145.

RÉSUMÉ DU LIVRE – MOT DE L’AUTEUR – MOT DE L’ÉDITEUR

Oedipe est chassé de Thèbes comme responsable du fléau qui s’abat sur la ville. La victime est d’accord avec ses bourreaux. Le malheur est apparu parce qu’il a tué son père et épousé sa mère. Le bouc émissaire suppose toujours l’illusion persécutrice. Les bourreaux croient à la culpabilité des victimes ; ils sont convaincus, au moment de l’apparition de la peste noire au XIVe siècle, que les juifs ont empoisonné les rivières. La chasse aux sorcières implique que juges et accusées croient en l’efficace de la sorcellerie. Les Evangiles gravitent autour de la passion comme toutes les mythologies du monde mais la victime rejette toutes les illusions persécutrices, refuse le cycle de la violence et du sacré. Le bouc émissaire devient l’agneau de Dieu. Ainsi est détruite à jamais la crédibilité de la représentation mythologique. Nous restons des persécuteurs mais des persécuteurs honteux. « Toute violence désormais révèle ce que révèle la passion du Christ, la genèse imbécile des idoles sanglantes, de tous les faux dieux des religions, des politiques, des idéologies. »

Voir enfin:

Sacrifice, Mimesis, and the Genesis of Violence: A Response to Bruce Chilton

JAMES G. WILLIAMS (SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY)

Bulletin for Biblical Research 3 (1993) 31-47

Institute for Biblical Research

I would like to thank Bruce Chilton for the informed and collegial way that he has responded to The Bible, Violence, and the Sacred: Lib- eration from the Myth of Sanctioned Violence . He quite rightly places it in the context of René Girard’s mi metic theory and then focuses on the issue of sacrifice in the ensuing critique of my book. There is much at stake here for all of us wh o seek to preserve and clarify the distinctive testimony of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. We are in an age when « pos tmodern » critics, whether literary, philosoph cal, or theological, tend (if not intend) to undermine the Jewish and Christian heritage of Western cultu re. We should be well aware of this tendency, whose inspiration comes primarily from Nietzsche and whose thrust has been transm itted into the contemporary period primarily through Heidegger and Derrida. However, a blind reaction to it will simply make of us « doubles » of postmodern inter- preters, that is, rivals so preoccupi ed with the enemy other that our thinking is determined by them. In this context there is no problem more urgent than the ancient phenom enon of sacrifice and all that attends it. Certain aspects of Chilton’s review of Girard’s theory are quite perceptive. He says, « In his treatmen t of the Gospels, Girard’s analy- sis becomes openly ethical and programmatic (one might even say, evangelical) » (p. 20). That is certainl y true. Girard’s research has led him to an « evangelical » orientation not simply in the sense of the good news of the Gospel witness to the Christ, but in arguing that both scientific and religious truth co nverge and have their origin in the biblical testimony to the innocen t victim and the God who is the advocate of victims. A typica l statement is this one from The Scape- goat : « The invention of science is not the reason that there are no 32 Bulletin for Biblical Research 3 longer witches, but the fact that there are no longer witch-hunts is the reason that science has been invented. » 1 This opening up of the world to investigation is part of a long history, which does not run in a straight line or smoothly but which nonetheless moves inevita- bly toward disclosure of the collec tive violence and its ritual forms that undergird human culture. The unveiling of collective violence and victimization camouflaged in religion and culture comes pri- marily through certain distinctive bib lical witnesses. Above all, in its clearest and most sustained form, it is disclosed through Jesus as the Christ in the New Testament Gospels. With respect to colle ctive violence and victimization, Chilton as- tutely notes that for Girard « tex ts of persecution and myths are comparable: a real victim lies at the origin of both » (p. 19). Both an- cient and modern cultures share this concealment of violence. This is a crucial issue with many facets. On the one hand, bib lical interpret- ers on a wide spectrum of denominati onal affiliations tend either to disregard large portions of the Bibl e because of the patent exclusiv- ism, aggression, or violence that is narrated (e.g., the conquest of Canaan in the early part of Joshua) or to justify such behavior and attitudes on the basis of the Bible. But from the standpoint of the hermeneutics of the mime tic theory, the Bible— especially the Jew- ish Scriptures or Old Testament but also to some degree the New Testament—is a « mixed » text in wh ich the witnesses of the tradition are struggling to articulate the reve lation of the God who liberates victims as over against the myths of sacred violence dominating in the cultural milieu out of which Israel was called to become God’s exception in the world. Girard’s mimetic theory directs the inter- preter to focus on what is distinctive of Israel vis-à-vis the other na- tions of the world, where one enco unters founding events that are based on regenerative violence. Rome , for example, was founded by means of Romulus’s slaying of Remus. This is simply reported in a neutral fashion by Livy in his histor y as something that occurred, and of course from a mythical view point one would expect it to oc- cur. Civilization begins according to Ge nesis 4 as the result of Cain’s murder of Abel—but th e innocence of Abel is affirmed and Cain must hear the divine voice that asks , « Where is Abel your brother? » The mark placed upon Cain is both a sign to protect him against the very violence he himself has co mmitted and a reminder of God’s question. Behind the question lies the victim. On the other hand, a significant stream of modern and postmod- ern thought has ignored or denied that violence is at the root of our 1. The Scapegoat (trans. Yvonne Freccero; Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986) 204. WILLIAMS: A Response to Bruce Chilton 33 cultural origins. A philosopher like Martin Heidegger, for example, spoke of violence, particularly in An Introduction to Metaphysics , as the work of logos as polemos , namely the creative violence, the sorting out and building in which the poets, thinkers, and leaders must en- gage as they fulfill the destiny of Be ing. But this, he maintains, is not the ordinary violence of human war or battle. This from a philoso- pher who presented a philosophical defense of National Socialism! One of his philosophical heirs, Jac ques Derrida, has actually recog- nized the structure of violence and sacrifice in writing and texts but has so far been unwilling to move beyond the signifiers of texts to the signifier who, from Girard’s sta ndpoint, is the original sign, both signifier and signified: the innocen t or arbitrarily chosen victim. 2 I am also grateful for the ques tion about covenant and sacrifice that Chilton raises. The question is wh ether I offer in fact « a major re- vision of Girard’s theory » in viewi ng the covenant and its sacrificial instruments quite positively (p. 24) . If indeed I do this it would not negate the entirety of Girard’s mi metic theory, but it would certainly undercut Girard’s hypothesis concer ning the role of sacrifice as the primary ritual manifestation of the sacred, that is, projected violence. This is a crucial question, one that is sufficiently complex that I con- sider it better to deal with it late r under the rubric of differentiation and sacrifice. Now I will turn to the major issu es raised in Bruce Chilton’s re- sponse in which I think he has misu nderstood Girard or me, or both. There are three subjects on which I will focus: mimesis, differentia- tion and sacrifice in Girard’s work and in my book, and Chilton’s model for understanding sacrifice. MIMESIS OR MIMETIC DESIRE Mimesis, or mimetic desire, is the foundation of Girard’s theory. As Chilton indicates, Girard, in the tradition of Hegel and Kojève, views human beings as desiring being. But Girard departs from the Hegelian tradition in understandin g desire as an empirical and finally anthropological reality, not as a metaphysical reality. He does not identify desire with human cons ciousness, as Hegel does, and he emphasizes the object of desire , which is what rivals contest and which mediates the « being » or « rea lity » of the model of mediator to the subject. Human beings have very limited in stincts, the genetic directives that serve as guiding and braking f unctions to other animals. Human 2. See Andrew J. McKenna, Violence and Difference: Girard, Derrida, and Decon- struction (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992). 34 Bulletin for Biblical Research 3 needs and drives (neither of which could be called « desires ») become actual and take certain pathways through mimesis or imitation of others. The result is desire that is mimetic. The dynamic of the hu- man system is desire, the structure is mimetic. One could call this « imitational » desire. However, becaus e imitation is a word that has become watered down and convey s no connotation of acquisitive- ness, Girard prefers the classical word. The acquisitive character of human desire lays the groundwork for human conflict. The subject not only seeks to be like the other; he or she wants to have what the other has and even to be what the other is. The object of desire is what the model or mediator desires, but what the desiring subject really wants is to be desired by the model, whereas the actual object of the model’s desire is to be de- sired. The result of this relationship of subject to model can turn to conflict or violence. The message gi ven off by the model may be « im- itate me »—except in this one respect, « don’t imitate me. » A classical instance of this is Freud’s so-called Oedipus complex. However, from the standpoint of the mimetic theory it is the desire to imitate the model/mediator (more or less th e same as Freud’s « identifica- tion »), not sexual attachment to the pa rent of the opposite sex, that may (but does not always or necessarily) issue in rivalry. Of course, in human relations hips conflict do esn’t always emerge, and in most cultural contexts conflict and violence do not reign most of the time. Why not? Because cultural forms, which can- not be separated from wh at we now call the religious or the sacred, establish differences . These differences function to keep people from destructive rivalries yet enable them to enter into cooperative rela- tions. I will discuss this further wh en I take up differentiation and sacrifice. Chilton says, “The seed of destruc tion within desire is that it is ‘mimetic’” (p. 17). He a sserts similarly, toward the end of his essay, that mimesis « is, by practical definition, covetous rivalry » (p. 27). This is a crucial issue because if mimesis (or mimetic desire) is inher- ently a rivalry based on desire of what the other has, then any teach- ing or proclamation of « good mi mesis » would be logically and theologically impossible. From the standpoint of Christian theology this would be a denial of creati on (everything created good, Genesis 1) and so would amount to a denial of « original sin, » which is pred- icated upon a good creation and the possibility of restoration, of new creation. Chilton therefore welcomes my explication of the covenant model of existence, which I “might have called covenantal mimesis, ‘the powerful generative vision from which the Bible as a whole stems’” (p. 27). Chilton’s insight in to what I attempted to communi- cate is striking: I would accept « cove nantal mimesis » as an excellent WILLIAMS: A Response to Bruce Chilton 35 term for what I have described as the Bible’s generative vision. I did not intend to state or imply that it includes or could incorporate sac- rifice as part of the covenantal mimesis in its ideal form . I will take up that issue in discussing differentiation and sacrifice. At this point I am concerned rather to comment on Chilton’s point that I have de- parted from Girard in pointing toward this covenantal mimesis, and that I « correct » him in my claim that « in and of itself [mimesis] is a neutral capability of the brain and of every aspect of systems that can be considered ‘human.' » 3 In fact, Girard has not made himself completely clear on mime- sis and the human condition. This lack of clarity may reflect the fact that his thinking was very much in process from the 1960s into the 1980s. Moreover, as an interdiscip linary thinker who has confronted the tradition of thought, stemming from Nietzsche, which funda- mentally understands life or reality as differential or conflictual, originating in violence and returning to violence, 4 he has perhaps occasionally played too much in his opponents’ field and by their rules. But that is often a risk that a thinker has to take—and I think Girard is a great thinker. So it is that if one begins reading Girard’s Violence and the Sacred or Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World , mimetic desire comes across as inevitably leading hu mans into rivalry and violence. However, if one reads on to the chapter on Freud in Violence or to Book III of Things Hidden , one finds that Girard does not construe human relations, whether parent-child or any other, as necessarily rivalrous, neurotic, or pathological. Some forms of behavior are good to imitate; it is just that children, disciples, and admirers do not know which these are to the extent that the model fascinates or dominates them. 5 An individual finds it difficult, if not often impos- sible, to stop the imitation process a nd say, « To do this or to hold this attitude is good, to do that or to hold that attitude is bad. » The only reality that helps us in this s ituation, from Girard’s standpoint, is good mimesis. « Good mimesis » ha s two related but distinct mean- ings, as I indicate in my book. 6 The first presupposes an underlying scapegoat mechanism that stems fro m collective violence and whose object, in an indirect and mostly ca mouflaged way, is to control vio- lence. It could be called the « effec tive mimesis » of cu lture to the ex- tent that it works in assigning a nd maintaining differentiations—the 3. The Bible, Violence, and the Sacred (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991) 239. 4. See John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (Oxford and Cambridge: Basil Blackwell, 1990, 1991) chap. 10. 5. See Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World (trans. S. Bann and M. Met- teer; Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987) 290. 6. The Bible, Violence, and the Sacred , 261 n. 17. 36 Bulletin for Biblical Research 3 differences necessary for language, roles, institutions, and every form of cooperative activ ity. However, if Girard held only to that sense of mimesis, his position would be little different from that of Thomas Hobbes or Joseph de Maistre, whose thinking was profound but thoroughly sacrificial. What really opens up our human poten- tial, what makes of us potential contributors to a divine-human community, is a good mimesis that cannot originate in human de- sires and projection. This good mimesis is revelation . Girard has, to be sure, never employed the term « good mimesis, » but this is the mi- mesis he has in mind in referring to those who aid Jesus in his mis- sion of « starting the good contagio n belonging to good reciprocity. » 7 Apart from revelation, or the sustai ned witness to revelation, human beings are given situations and mome nts in which they are able to realize good mimesis, but these oc casions have been fragmentary outside of the sustained scriptural witness to the disclosure of the God of victims. 8 In The Scapegoat this good mimesis, this divinely given model, is the burden of the chapters on « The Key Words of the Gospel Pas- sion » and « History and the Paraclet e. » The reason for us to forgive one another is that we all fall short of th e model/mediator who for- gives, for we all, in some way, have worshiped or sustained blood- stained idols; but by the same token, we have all been forgiven if we are willing to accept this forgiveness and forgive one another. Good mimesis, divine in origin, is dynami c, not simply a pattern to copy. It takes form in comm unity and forgiveness. Mimetic desire is potentially de structive; it is also potentially creative. The point is not to remove oneself from desire but to create a better desire. Since we are blind to our own mimesis, to our self- representations and representations of others—as Paul states in his own language in Romans 7—we cann ot create our own better desire and live out of it on a sustained basis apart from revelation and grace. Only through incarnation, th rough the Logos, the creator God who enters into our condition and ex poses the mechanisms of desire and scapegoating, can we be liberat ed for a new desire, a new being. So if Girard does not adequa tely clarify his understanding of mimesis in some parts of his work, I think what I have just sketched 7. The French text: « amorcer la bonne contagion de la bonne reciprocité » ( Things Hidden , 297; English trans. 203). 8. I confirmed this point in a telephone conversation with Girard on November 2, 1992. At the level of the classical literary traditions he obviously appreciates the in- sights of the great Greek tragedians. He al so acknowledges the insights of the Buddhist tradition concerning desire and determination by the world of suffering. However, for Buddhism the religious and ethical center of the disclosure of truth is not the innocent victim. WILLIAMS: A Response to Bruce Chilton 37 is true to his concept and intention. He has more and more come to appreciate how culture works and so he has become more positive about its sacrificial mech anism. That is, how woul d any of us in any social order survive without differe ntiating and surrogate functions that enable the totality of the system to surviv e and to transmit itself (perhaps often greatly modified)? « Differentiating and surrogate functions » are the practices whereby we establish differences and sacrificial substitutes that keep us from getting so close to one another that we compete in vio- lent ways but yet keep us close e nough to each other personally and socially that we are able to work and exist together. On the other hand, the capacity of cu lture to survive and oper ate falls short of the gospel and the di vine-human community of the kingdom of God. My understanding of Girard is that he has become more and more pessimistic about culture in the context of history as experienced and interpreted in the last two centuries. In this paper I have used the ad verb « inevitably » twice so far. I said that, according to Girard, the gospel’s work of « opening up of the world to investigation is part of a long history, which does not run in a straight line or smoothly but which nonetheless moves inev- itably toward disclosure of the co llective violence and its ritual forms that undergird huma n culture. » I also said that in a good por- tion of Girard’s work, for example, the earlier parts of Violence and Things Hidden , « mimetic desire comes acro ss as inevitably leading humans into rivalry and violence. » Both are true. To coin a variation on Reinhold Niebuhr’s famous dictum , « Sin is not necessary but inevitable, » I would say: Rivalry and violence are not necessary but inevitable. The problem is not desire; the problem lies in the kind of mimesis. The good mimesis of the God of victims, to which the Law and the Prophets bear witn ess and which the Gospels attest as embodied in Jesus, has disclose d and will disclose the character of our mimetic predicament and poin t us toward a new age, a world to come. DIFFERENTIATION AND SACRIFICE According to the mimetic theory the slaying of th e victim is the first act of differentiation. In the mimetic crisis everyone imitates every- one else in violent reciprocity and so all differences collapse. This is the epitome of chaos, and violence is probably the actual model of chaos for religious and cu ltural traditions. In orde r for the « other » to be really other, the other must be different from me/us, yet close enough to me/us or enough like me/u s that a relationship of some sort can be established. But this is a delicate balance in which one is 38 Bulletin for Biblical Research 3 often tempted to seek the being of the other by desiring what the other desires. When this balance is destroyed in violent reciprocity the latter is remedied by the discov ery, not consciously or deliber- ately made but « happened upon, » that the conflict and violence stops when everyone gangs up on a victim. The victim is the emerg- ing difference . As I noted in my book, Gira rd’s model is not based on dipolar structure, as in structuralism, but on exception : his is a model of the « exception in the process of emerging. » 9 This victim is the one who polarizes (or on whom is polarize d) the desire of all the others that had got mimetically out of hand. So the victim is the first differ- ence. And the relief from mi metic conflict or violence is so great that just as the victim was blamed for the group’s ills during the mimetic rage, so now the victim is apotheos ized, divinized. As a result, the victim as god or sacraliz ed hero or ancestor is now the « Difference » by which the others become a co mmunity and define themselves. I will not go into the particular implications that one could de- velop out of this. Suffice it to say th at the three pillars of culture emerge from the divinized victim: pr ohibition, ritual, and myth. The community, as distinct from the vi ctim/god, did not do and does not do (or ought not do) such and such an act that brought about the crisis in the first place (murder and incest are the two most common crimes, and of course both are di ssolvers of differences). The com- munity repeats the act th at founded it by representing the crisis that threatened it and the slaying that (re)established it. The repetition of the slaying is enacted in sacrifice. And myth tells the story of the founding and the differentiations es tablished. With myth comes the greatest possibility of displace ment and deferral of meaning through shifts and transformations in the story and symbols. What Girard’s theory about the pillars of religion and culture entails, in other words, is that the primitive sa cred is violence: the collective violence of the community that is transmitted, transformed, and routinized in such a way that its ob ject is to protect the community from violence. 10 Now Chilton argues that Girard is wrong about the origin and function of sacrifice. I will take up his argument that the communal meal is the appropriate model for sacr ifice in the third part of my re- sponse. Here I wish to respond to his appreciation of my so-called 9. Williams, The Bible, Violence, and the Sacred , 20; see Girard, Things Hidden , 100-101. 10. This is the function of the mark on Cain in Genesis 4: to protect the founder of civilization (« he built a city, » 4:17) from the very violence that he himself had com- mitted in murdering his brother. However, unlike the typical founding myth, the mark is also a reminder of what he had d one—a reminder, indeed, of the divine ques- tion, « Where is Abel your brother? » WILLIAMS: A Response to Bruce Chilton 39 departure from Girard. He suggests that this putative departure is partly deliberate and partly inadvert ent. The conscious aspect of the departure he ascribes to me is my insistence « that any language im- plying the inherent superiority of Christianity or the ‘Christian’ Gospels should be avoided. » 11 He quite rightly identifies my argu- ment as « exceptionalist » as over against a « supersessionist » argu- ment. From the exceptionalist position one sees Israel as an enduring remnant bearing the divine word in history, and one continuation of this remnant is the ear ly Jesus movement. The supersessionist posi- tion is that Israel as an empirical people and tradition is the « oppres- sive husk » that perpetuates ancien t myth and the sacred, and its true vocation is realized only through Jesus and the church. Chilton holds that the inadverten t way in which I depart from Girard lies in my positiv e view of the covenant and its sacrificial ex- pressions, particularly in the discus sion of covenant and sacrifice in chapter 4 of The Bible, Violence, and the Sacred . He avers this to be « a major revision of Girard’s theory, in that the sacred is no longer merely projected violence » (p. 24). I am indebted to Chilton for his critique and partial appreciation of my understanding of the sacred and sacrifice, for his comments have forced me to review and thin k through once agai n what it is I want to say vis-à-vis Girard’s thought. I would say first of all that there is a difference in nuance between my understanding of the Testaments and Girard’s, and perhaps a clear difference between my perspective and Hamerton- Kelly’s. What I have done is put Jesus, the early Jesus movement, and the New Testament Gospels square ly in the Jewish tradition. I think, as indicated in my book, that there is adequate historical and literary evidence for ho lding this position. The tradition of the unique witness to the God of victim s comes to fulfillm ent in Jesus and the Gospel witness to the di sclosure of divine–human commu- nity. This is not un-Jew ish, not anti-Jewish—it is Jewish in the sense that the basis of Christianity is Jewishly formed. What we call « Christianity » did not be gin as Christianity but as a movement rooted in its Jewish matrix. Nor does this perspective deny the in- sights of rabbinic Judaism, particularly in its antisacrificial aspects. The problems emerge in the theological and political developments of ongoing church history in which the foundations of Christianity were more or less severed from Judaism and the Jewish Scriptures were coopted as the revelation of Ch ristian truth. But there is one truth that is revealed, and a long historical struggle has been re- quired to bring it more fully to light. From my standpoint, and I 11. The Bible, Violence, and the Sacred , 175, quoted on p. 23. 40 Bulletin for Biblical Research 3 think a confessing Christian would have to affirm something like this, the Gospel witness to Jesus as the Christ is the clearest and most sustained representation of th e message of the God of libera- tion and the exposure of violence that has been given to us. All the other foci of revelation are ones I ha ve to see through the lens pro- vided by the Gospels. My point is not to deny what I do not see or cannot see; it is rather to affirm what I have been given to see. So I wish to avoid supersessi onism. I don’t think, however, that the problem too is, as Chilton states, that to « the concept of the victim itself might be too relative by definition to serve as the foundation of a systematic reading of the Bible » (p. 23). There is no way, of course, of absolutely establishing through criticism and theo ry any standpoint. One cannot, obviously, read everythi ng as the same, or in terms of discrete passages (segments, historical periods, etc.), for with either of those alternatives there is the da nger of falling back into myth or anti-myth, into the sacr ed as the sacred soci al order or the anti- sacred that seeks to destroy the sacr ed social order (e.g., Nietzsche). That is, those who adhere to a myth ical interpretation, which always justifies the sacred as violence, an d those who vehemently oppose it are in both instances determined by myth, for its upholders are in- formed and upheld by it and its oppo nents are obsessed with it. The two sides are caught up in the ex treme mimetic rivalry of doubles. No, one needs a center, a « canon within the can on, » in order to read the Bible. What better center (door, key, or whatever the meta- phor) than the innocent victim? Should not the center of Christian reading be the innocent victim who discloses « the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah » th rough a violent death in which he was numbered among the transgresso rs? Should not the Christian reading be undergirded by the in nocent victim’s resurrection from the fatal expulsion and execution to which he was consigned? And I do not mean to imply that the innoc ent blood is upon the heads of the Jews to the exclusion of othe rs (although both Je ws and Romans were clearly involved in Jesus’ death). We are all implicated, just as the disciples who deserted him, on e of whom betrayed him and one of whom denied him. That is, only the victim, the one who becomes the sacrificial offering, can reveal the human pr edicament and its healing. But most victims do not have a voice. If they are human beings, they are not allowed to speak or they are ac cused of crimes that enable the community to discount their words. Animal victims cannot commu- nicate in our world—beyond signaling to us the anguish of pain and suffering. Girard has acknowledged th at there is no absolutely privi- leged place in language from whic h the truth may be known. « That is why the Word that states itself to be absolutely true never speaks WILLIAMS: A Response to Bruce Chilton 41 except from the position of a victim in the process of being expelled. Its presence among us is not humanly explicable. » 12 The logic of this perspective on revelation through the victim, which I think I share with Girard, is similar to one aspect of what I said earlier about two kinds of good mi mesis. It is possible to identify both good mimesis in the sense of « effective mimesis, » the mimesis that is properly differentiated so that culture can wo rk, and good mi- mesis in the sense of the model of divine–human community in the Christ. Just as there is an effective, if not ideal mimesis, so also there is « good » sacrifice in the sense of e ffective sacrifice. That is, even though sacrifice in the sense of o ffering to God a human or animal victim is the ritual repetition of or iginal violence, it does provide for a channeling of violence or the threat of violence into a communal act that reduces this threat to manageab le proportions. It would, ideally, be better if we could cooperate and establish both functional and personal relationships without this ou tlet, in which we are trying to maneuver around violence, to « deceive » it. 13 In other words, sac- rifice, along with its substitutions in a contemporary Western world without the institution of sacrifice as such, is a much more desir- able practice than the violence that can result from mimetic crisis. Caiaphas in the Gospel of John enunc iates the principle that is the ba- sis of all Realpolitik : « it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whol e nation destroyed » (John 11:50). However, if there is a kind of analogue between effective mime- sis and effective sacrifice, both good in the sense that they may enable human groups to survive and coop erate both within the group and between groups, the analogy breaks down in comparing the good or ideal mimesis of the kingdom of Go d and sacrifice. The ideal, the es- chatological vision from a Christian viewpoint, is the overcoming of sacrifice; the need to establish or reestablish differences through the sacred, the trompe-violence of a ritual performance of violence in order to control violence, will no longer prev ail. In historical existence as we know it, sacrifice in some form or substitutionary mode may be necessary—and indeed, one could argue that our national crises, as I describe in the last chapter of my book, stem from the breakdown of modes of sacrifice. The point is not to make sacrifice « the scapegoat of the genocidal outbreaks of violence which have become routine since the Enlightenment » (p. 29). Sacrifi ce and substitutions for sacrifice formerly protected us—up to a po int. Because sacrifice, from the 12. Girard, Things Hidden, 435 (my translation). 13. See Girard’s comment on Abel’s anim al sacrifice as a « trompe-violence » in La violence et le sacré (Paris: Grasset, 1972) 14. The English translation (p. 4) renders « violence-outlet. » 42 Bulletin for Biblical Research 3 Latin sacrificare (French sacrifier ), is etymologically « to make sacred, » the foundation and differentiations of culture have often purchased protection of human life at the price of human life, or at least at the price of a deep structure that va lidated both regeneration and the maintenance of equilibrium through violence. Christianity itself, as the primary bearer of scriptural revelation and desacralization in Western culture, has contributed to the demise of these older sacrifi- cial modes; but new ones have not ta ken their place, and the practice of the mimesis of the kingdom of God is very difficult for large num- bers of people over a long period of time in the world as we know it. So it is that sacrifice, as essentia l to the structures of this world, has a provisional status, a status which is necessary « between the times » but which is pre-kingdom of God, pre-gospel. However, in the Christian vision of the restored creation there is no temple in the City of God, an absence which is announced in the Apocalypse. And of course in the Gospels the Chri st, the meeting point of God and humans, replaces the temple. It is in the light of the forego ing understanding, the provisional human need for « deceiving violence  » and establishing differenti- ations, that I made positive connec tions between the covenant and sacrifice. It is better to institute the Levites as priests standing in the place of the firstborn and offering sacr ifices on behalf of Israel than to experience the violence involved when the Levites slay 3,000 per- sons, killing brothers, sons , neighbors. This violence is the basis of their ordination (Exod 32:25-29). Admittedly I ma y not have made my meaning clear enough. I was tryi ng to deal critically and sympa- thetically with very important and complex texts in Exodus and Numbers, so Chilton is not misquoting me but missing the context in which I intended to place my discussion of sacrific e in chapter 4, on covenant and sacrifice, as well as in chapter 3, on Moses and the Exodus. There are two main elements of that context: Israel’s histori- cal struggle to understand and to r ealize the revelation it had been given, and the limitations that were not to be exce eded until the prophets and the Jesus of the Gospel s. Let me offer the following quotations to support these points and end this part of the paper: These boundaries [of the Ten Commandments] are marked out in terms of allegiance to the God of the Covenant, allegiance to the cove- nant order, and control of mimetic desire and rivalry. In the binding of people to God, the altar [i.e., sacr ifice] and the words of God in Moses’ book are formally equivalent [i n Exodus 24], but obedience to the divine word here begins the process of displacing sacrifice. WILLIAMS: A Response to Bruce Chilton 43 The biblical narratives themse lves document human failures and resist all attempts to camouflage and my thologize these failures. . . . The fail- ures are in part due to the weight of archaic cultural traditions in which mimetic desire, rivalry, and conflict are managed through vic- timization, scapegoating, and sacrifice. The revelation struggling to ma ke itself known in the covenant, com- mandment, and cultic texts reaches a new stage of clarity with the great prophets. 14 THE MEAL AS MODEL FOR SACRIFICE As he argues also in his recent book, 15 Chilton proposes communal consumption as the best means of understanding sacrifice, « a feast with the gods, in which life as it should be—chosen and prepared correctly—is taken to produce life as it should be » (p. 26). I propose in turn that the mime tic theory provides a better hypothesis of sac- rifice and enables us to uncover the very representational traps into which I see Chilton falling. The mimetic theory has great explanator y power. Chilton sug- gests at one point that it explains too much. That is a common objec- tion in our time. In objecting to an y kind of universalizing hypothesis Chilton may have been affected by historicism, whose rival twin children are positivism and postmodern ism. In the modern intellec- tual tradition leading to deconstructi on, every text, every principle, every claim is set against its « other. » Indeed, it is not too much to say that every explanation is sacrificed to its other, to the opposition that undercuts it. Now a theory and its attendant hypotheses may turn out to be wrong, but we should be free to pursue them. That is one of the fruits of the biblical revelation: the disenchantment of the world, opening it up to a search to underst and how it works. Universal or maximalizing theories should be welc omed and, of course, subjected to rigorous criticism. But not to th e criticism that they should not exist in the first place. Now concerning the communal meal with the gods as a model for sacrifice, I agree that the meal is closely asso ciated with sacrifice, as we have known since the pioneer ing research of W. Robertson Smith. However, the meal is better explained by sacrifice than sac- rifice by the meal. The meal, specif ically the communal consumption of the sacrificial victim, presupposes very definite rules, differences, 14. Williams, The Bible, Violence, and the Sacred , 117, 126, 127. 15. Chilton, The Temple of Jesus: His Sacrificial Pr ogram Within a Cultural History of Sacrifice (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992). 44 Bulletin for Biblical Research 3 practices that must be done just right. Where do they come from? What is their origin? The meal mode l simply presupposes some prior system that must be posited or sp eculated. In the emergence of hu- man culture the meal becomes the model of community par excellence , and this is appropriate as a metaphor of God’ s reign and rule. How- ever, it seems clear that when we lo ok at instances of sacrifice asso- ciated with eating, « community » or the oneness of those partaking together is won through a differe ntiation process—the establish- ment of rules and roles—that stems from disorder or violence. In the process of preparation, slaughtering, and eating, attention is focused on the victim, as though the fate of the victim is something mon- strous and wonderful. It is m onstrous and wonderful from the standpoint of the sacrificing co mmunity. Jean-Pierre Vernant and Marcel Detienne have provided inte resting descriptions of Greek culinary practices, but they tend to obscure the element of disorder because of their structural premis es. I think Walter Burkert’s com- mentary on Greek sacrificial practices in Homo Necans is more to the point. 16 All the elements, from the in itial washing of hands and sprinkling of the animal victim th rough the death-dealing blow and the great outcry of the women presen t to the eating of the entrails, bespeak the routini zed repetition of an event of collective violence in which the victim is killed and eate n. Could the meal have laid the groundwork of the sacrifice? Unlikely. More likely it was vice versa, as indicated in the ritual order de scribed by Burkert. As Raymund Schwager points out, « The moment of slaughter forms the emotional highpoint of the ritual , which is accompanied by the loud outcry of all those standing in attendance. Th e meal only occurs at the end, when the previous shuddering and fright changes to relief. This relief allows us still to trace the originary tilting of violence into peace. » 17 This process of transition from fe ar to relief and concord is still in display, though somewhat filtered, in Exodus 19 and 24. There are some problems concerning the composite character of the narrative in Exodus 24; however, if we put th ese two chapters together it ap- pears that the people are in a state of trepidation at the foot of the mountain, whose boundaries may not be passed or even touched lest the LORD « break out » ag ainst the people (19:24 ). Moses conducts the covenant ritual, which includes dash ing half the blood of the sac- rificed oxen on the altar and half on the people. Then Moses, Aaron, 16. Homo Necans: The Anthropology of Ancien t Greek Sacrificial Ritual and Myth (trans. Peter Bing; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983). 17. Schwager, « Rückblick auf das Symposion, » Dramatische Erlösungslehre: Ein Symposion (eds. J. Niewiadomski and W. Palaver; Innsbruck-Wien: Tyrolia, 1992) 368- 69 (my translation). WILLIAMS: A Response to Bruce Chilton 45 Nadab, and Abihu, along with seve nty of the elders, go up and see God and eat and drink. Chilton’s model of the meal or communal consumption as the origin of sacrifice leaves his herm eneutics, in my view, still bound to the mythical understanding of the sa cred social order. When he says, for instance, that « in sacrifice, consumption is probably a better metaphor to describe what is happ ening than death; the passing of the victim rarely arouses interest  » (p. 26), I think he is defending that sacrificial perspect ive and not attending to the unique biblical demythologizing of the sacred, a demy thologizing that invites us to see ourselves and read our texts in light of the victim. In the primi- tive context the death of the victim, the sacrificial offering (note the French victime and the German Opfer ) occasions an emotional reac- tion of anguished lament, as Burker t notes. The act of killing and the act of eating are two sides of the sa me coin, so to speak, and both are accompanied by intense emotion. 18 Moreover, Chilton’s approach to sa crifice does not take into ac- count the practice of offering human victims. We know it was prac- all over the world. 19 The practice of child sacrifice was known to the Israelites and condemned in the tradition. However, that it was an earlier practice of many Isr aelites there can be no doubt. The divine command in Exod 22:29 (Heb. 22 :28) affirms that the firstborn belong, in principle at least, to th e God of Israel, and it is doubtful that the Binding of Isaac (Genesis 22) negates the principle. More- over, in times of crisis there were some who reverted to this prac- tice, as attested in 2 Kgs 16:3 a nd several passages in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Now of course, if the mimetic th eory is basically correct, then the ritual of sacrifice functions to repeat both the crisis, the slaying of a victim, and the subsequent re lief to the commun ity; it does this moreover in a fashion that makes ev erything seem to be in order to the participants in the sacrificial event. Real death and violence are not associated with sacrifice from th e mythic standpoint. It is a rit- ual, a practice that is simply « done, » and has been done from time 18. See Euripides’ depiction of the Dionysian cult in The Bacchae . In my judgment there is a strong trace of this kind of emo tional reaction in Lev 9:22-24, where the people shout and fall on their faces when the fire consumes the holocaust and the fat. 19. The mimetic theory proposes that defin ite traces of this continue into the con- temporary world and that in fact when old sacrificial forms break down there is a typical reversion to collective violence. On e notable current example is the « ethnic cleansing » that is taking place in the form er Yugoslavia. For a carefully researched study of one part of the world where the more primitive form of offering a human vic- tim (the king) was practiced into the 1980s, see Simon Simonse, Kings of Disaster: Cen- tralism and the Scapegoat King in Southeastern Sudan (Leiden: Brill, 1992). 46 Bulletin for Biblical Research 3 immemorial. Indeed, ther e is evidence that in many rituals the vic- tim, whether human or animal, comm unicates in some fashion that it is willing to be sacrificed on the community’s behalf. Unanimity is crucially important in sacrifice and scapegoating. 20 To say that the death of the victim arouses no intere st is to speak fro m within that mythical unanimity. This matter of the attitude toward the victim is also related to Chilton’s criticism of an aspect of my treatment of Saul in 1 Samuel. I observed that a close read ing of the text does not indicate that Saul was a great offender against the social order. 21 Saul, like other tragic heroes, was both the savior of his pe ople and in some respects their scapegoat. He is condemned in 1 Samuel 13 for not waiting until Samuel arrives at Gilgal to offer burnt sacrifices. But I understand this passage essentially as I do 1 Sa muel 15: Saul is the leader, the mediator contested by another mediator, Samuel; there is a crisis, with the Philistines pressi ng upon the Israelites and the troops, not a highly organized and disciplined lot, making demands upon him from their side. In addition, accord ing to 1 Sam 13:8, he had waited the appointed seven days for Samuel . To assert that Saul was an offender against the social order is to chime in with the mythical voice speaking in much of 1 Samuel. This voice represents a sacrifi- cial perspective and Saul is the sacr ifice. In the book I stopped just short of describing Saul as a scape goat after the model of Oedipus. I think the history of Saul and David cannot finally make of Saul an utter scapegoat, and there are even more evident sign s in the story of David that the text reflects an attempt to critique the traditional understanding of sacral kingship. 22 In sum, the mimetic theory does not hold th at sacrifice is de- monic, but neither does it accept the representation of sacrifice according to the understa nding of its practitioners who exist in the environment of myth. Sacrifice is the representation and manage- ment of violence. The meal model only perpetuates this representa- tion and management by not ques tioning it from the standpoint of the distinctive biblical testimonies whose perspective is more favor- able to the victim than to the persecuting community. * * * 20. The modern totalitarian trial is an ex tension of this practice based on the need for unanimity, i.e., complete accord in th e community. The accused is led out, con- fesses his or her crimes, and is then executed or imprisoned. 21. A point made some years ago by David Gunn, The Fate of King Saul (Sheffield: JSOT, 1980). 22. See Hans J. L. Jensen, « Desire, Rivalr y, and Collective Violence in the ‘Succes- sion Narrative’, » JSOT 55 (1992) 39-59. WILLIAMS: A Response to Bruce Chilton 47 In conclusion, I would like to re iterate my gratitude to Bruce Chilton for the time and energy he ha s devoted to coming to terms with Girard’s work and mine. I ag ree with him that we should not assign fault to ancient antecedents as a way of avoiding the challenge to understand our own mimetic situ ations. We cannot, however, un- derstand ourselves and one another without seeking to understand our forebears. Above all, we must come to grips with the distinctive- ness of the biblical witness to the God of victims.

Excerpt from James G. Williams, The Bible, Violence & the Sacred: Liberation from the Myth of Sacred Violence, San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991, pp. 81-84.

9. Girard, The Scapegoat, chap. 2. I cannot resist quoting a sports columnist who wrote about Pete Rose, the baseball « star » who was accused of gambling on baseball games and betting on his own team, « If there’s one thing the American public likes better than an idol, it’s a fallen idol. » Unfortunately, I no longer have the source for this quote.


Obama/Israël: Qu’ils mangent de la rhétorique ! (When all else fails, play tourist !)

23 mars, 2013
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Hamas leader Dr. Salah Bardawil called on Palestinian political leaders in the Authority and the factions to review the Palestinian political program to face the repercussions of the remarks made by Obama on Thursday during his visit to Jerusalem and West Bank. Bardawil described in a press statement to Quds Press the U.S. President statements calling for recognizing Israel as a Jewish state as « the most dangerous statement by an American president regarding the Palestinian issue. » He added that the recognition of the State of Israel means practically abolishing the right of refugees to return and tampering with the fate of the Palestinians from the 1948-occupied territories. « This shows that Obama has turned his back to all Arabs … This is serious and requires that the Palestinian leadership reformulates its political program to address this deception. » Al Qassam
Tranquillement, sans que personne ne l’annonce, le conflit israélo-palestinien est passé d’une nécessité à un passe-temps pour les diplomates américains. Comme n’importe quel passe-temps — construction de modèles réduits d’avions ou de chandails au tricot — certains jours vous travaillez dessus, certains jours, vous ne travaillez pas. Cela dépend de votre humeur, mais qu’importe finalement si le chandail est terminé ou non. Obama a travaillé sur ce passe-temps au début de son premier mandat. Il a vite été coincé lorsqu’il a été repoussé par les deux parties, et, par conséquent, il a adopté, tout à fait rationnellement, à mon avis, une attitude de négligence bénigne. Tout cela dans l’indifférence générale. (…) Le conflit le plus déstabilisateur de la région est la guerre civile entre chiites et sunnites qui chauffe, le Liban, la Syrie, l’Irak, le Koweït, le Bahreïn et le Yémen. Alors qu’il serait une bonne chose d’ériger un Etat palestinien en paix avec Israël, la question est aujourd’hui restera-t-il un État syrien, un Etat libyen et l’État égyptien. Enfin, alors que la nécessité pour l’Amérique de forger la paix israélo-palestinienne n’a jamais été plus faible, les obstacles n’ont jamais été plus élevés : Israël a maintenant installé 300 000 imlantations en Cisjordanie et les attaques à la roquette du Hamas sur Israël depuis Gaza ont sérieusement érodé l’appétit de la majorité silencieuse israélienne de se retirer de la Cisjordanie, puisqu’une seule petit roquette fusée tirée de là-bas pourrait fermer l’aéroport international israélien de Lod. Pour toutes ces raisons, Obama pourrait bien être le premier président américain à visiter Israël en touriste. Thomas Friedman
Keeping Iran from sprinting to a single bomb now so that it can amble toward 50 bombs once Mr. Obama is out of office is not a policy worthy of any American presidency. I’d also like to hear the president tell Palestinians during his visit to Bethlehem that what really stands between them and a state isn’t Israel or its settlements. Israel dismantled its settlements in Sinai for the sake of peace with Egypt, and dismantled them again in Gaza in the interests of disengaging from the restive coastal strip. Most Israelis would gladly do so again for the sake of a real peace with the Palestinians. But Israelis can have no confidence in such a peace so long as Palestinians elect Hamas to power, cheer the rocketing of Israeli cities, insist on a « right of return » to Tel Aviv and Haifa, play charades at the U.N., refuse to negotiate directly with Israel, and raise their children on a diet of anti-Semitic slurs. Bret Stephens
Pourquoi donc ce grand écart entre le verbe et les actes? En premier lieu à cause du Congrès. Sénateurs et représentants, démocrates comme républicains, sont extrêmement défavorables à des pressions sur Israël au moment où son voisinage s’islamise (Égypte), implose en guerre civile (Syrie) ou se nucléarise (Iran). En second lieu, Obama a d’autres dossiers brûlants à traiter – outre sa lutte interne avec les républicains sur les questions socio-économiques -, à commencer par la bombe iranienne, cauchemar non seulement d’Israël, mais aussi des alliés arabes sunnites pétrolifères de Washington (Arabie saoudite). Il doit aussi gérer les tensions montantes avec la Russie, la Chine, la Corée du Nord ou encore le Pakistan ; devant ces titans asiatiques surarmés et les risques de conflits entre eux (Inde/Pakistan, Chine/Japon, etc.), le dossier palestinien apparaît franchement marginal, surtout par ces temps de calme relatif. Le locataire de la Maison-Blanche tapera-t-il du poing sur la table durant son second mandat? Non, d’autant moins que la nouvelle coalition de «Bibi» est plus présentable que la précédente, ­dépourvue de ministres ultraorthodoxes mais riche de la très appréciée Tzipi Livni, en charge du… processus de paix. Mais, en définitive, la vraie question n’est-elle pas de savoir si Obama croit encore possible le règlement du conflit israélo-palestinien? Si tel n’est pas le cas, on lui souhaite un agréable séjour touristique au Proche-Orient. Frédéric Encel
Bien qu’il puisse y avoir certains dans les mondes arabes et musulmans, qui prendront à cœur de sermon du président sur la coexistence et les objectifs communs, le chant des manifestants qui l’a accueilli à Ramallah aujourd’hui, dans lequel la foule réclamait des fusils lance-grenades et non plus de coopération avec les États-Unis, était peut-être une lecture plus précise de l’opinion publique. (…) Le président a peut-êrtre estimé qu’il devait faire précéder tout discours de paix par un émouvant hymne au sionisme et le droit d’Israël à se défendre contre ses ennemis, afin qu’ils se sentent suffisamment en sécurité pour accepter le compromis. Mais à une culture politique palestinienne qui cherche toujours la délégitimisation d’Israël, ceci est une invitation à la confrontation, pas l’accomodement. Tant que le nationalisme palestinien restera lié au rejet du sionisme, il sera difficile, voire impossible, pour même un leader palestinien plus fort qu’Abbas de faire la paix. Et c’est pourquoi que sans aucun doute à la frande frustration du président Obama, il continuerat à éviter comme la peste les pourparlers. Le discours de Jérusalem d’Obama sur les vertus d’une solution à deux États n’est pas plus susceptibles de produire un que celui de Bush donné en 2002 en devenant le premier président américain à approuver officiellement la création d’un Etat palestinien. A ce moment là aussi, Bush favait ormulé son appui au concept dans un contexte de sécurité israéliennes et des droits des Palestiniens (bien que Bush ait également approuvé la démocratie palestinienne, un point qu’Obama judicieusement évité puisque Abbas en est actuellement à sa neuvième année d’un mandat de quatre ans). Mais même si l’appui sincère de Bush a contribué à encourager ensuite le premier ministre Ariel Sharon à se retirer de la bande de Gaza (une erreur colossale qui s’a aggravé  la sécurité du pays et qui ne sera répète ni par Netanyahu ni par aucun autre dirigeant israélien en Cisjordanie), il n’a en rien fait bouger  les Palestiniens. malgré tout son brio rhétorique, les chances d’Obama de réussir là où Bush a échoué sont minimes. (…) L’ironie ici, c’est que la droite juve qui attaquera Obama pour son discours aura probablement aussi tort quant à son impact que la gauche qui l’encense. Tant que les Palestiniens resteront réticents à faire la paix, peu importe ce que pourront dire les israéliens ou Obama sur le sujet. Jonathan S. Tobin

Vous avez dit « vacances de Monsieur Hulot » ?

Batterie du système antimissile « Dôme de fer », Musée national, Yad Vashem, le mémorial de l’Holocauste, tombes de Rabin et de Theodor Herzl, basilique de la Nativité à Bethléem, Pétra …

Au lendemain de la dernière balade en Palestine du Touriste en chef et maitre es téléprompteries de la Maison Blanche …

Qui, entre les incessants gages aux panislamistes et l’abandon de ses anciens alliés aux allahakbaristes du prétendu « printemps arabe », avait passé l’essentiel de son premier mandat à multiplier les gestes d’hostilité à l’égard du gouvernement israélien …

Mais qui, détérioration de la situation syrienne et survol de territoire en cas de bombardement du programme nucléaire iranien obligent et mis à part le rappel du statut d’Etat juif d’Israël, semble néanmoins avoir obtenu des excuses israéliennes pour une évidente provocation turque …

L’éditorialiste américain Jonathan S. Tobin rappelle, après le spécialiste français du Proche-Orient Frédéric Encel il y a quelques jours, la futilité de l’entreprise …

Tant que les dirigeants palestiniens continueront à refuser la paix …

Contentions

Both Right and Left May Be Wrong About Obama’s Speech

Jonathan S. Tobin

Jewish World Review

03.21.2013

Jewish left-wingers are cheering President Obama’s Jerusalem speech in which he once again made the case for a two-state solution. Some are hoping that this will mean a renewed campaign of U.S. pressure on the Netanyahu government. With a new secretary of state in John Kerry who may well be foolish enough to believe he can succeed where so many other American peace processers have failed, perhaps they are right. But it is also possible that although Obama was eager to reiterate his ideas about the necessity of peace, the only real insights about the impact of the presidential visit may be coming from Palestinians and some of their cheerleaders.

While they will also welcome the president’s reassertion of the right of the Palestinians to a state of their own and his criticisms of Jewish settlements, it is far more probable that the part of his address today that will resonate with them is the section in which he laid out at length not only a defense of Zionism but a case for Israel’s right to self-defense and America’s ironclad guarantee of its security. Though there may be some in the Muslim and Arab worlds who will take to heart the president’s sermon on coexistence and shared goals, the chant of demonstrators that greeted him in Ramallah today, in which the crowd chanted for rocket propelled grenades, not more cooperation with the U.S., was perhaps a more accurate reading of public opinion.

Were Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas, whom the president inaccurately praised as a “partner for peace,” really interested in pursuing a two-state solution, he would take up the president’s challenge and agree, as Obama insisted during their joint press conference, to a new round of peace talks without insisting on preconditions. But the odds that the embattled Abbas, who is far more worried about Hamas than he is about Israel or the U.S., will do that are slim, making any new U.S. initiative a fool’s errand.

Those who would dismiss the president’s speeches as meaningless rhetoric shouldn’t underestimate the power of words, especially from an American president, to set the tone in the region. But those who think Obama’s appeal to Israelis to force their leaders to once again take risks for peace (something that runs contrary to the verdict of the recent Israeli election) may not only be misreading the mood of the Israeli public; they are also ignoring the Palestinians.

It should first be understood that merely stating America’s desire for a renewal of the peace process without demanding anything from the parties other than that they return to the peace table does not in any way constitute pressure on Israel. To the contrary, while Israel’s new government is under no illusion about the president wanting them to change course on settlements, they heard no concrete proposals from him that they must either refuse or accede to. In Ramallah, Obama echoed Netanyahu when he pointed out that the Palestinian demand that Israel concede every main point on borders and settlements prior to the negotiations was a formula for inaction, not peace. Israel’s position remains that it is ready to talk about everything without preconditions and that is exactly what Obama endorsed. Though it is possible Obama may follow this up with pressure on Netanyahu in the coming months and years, his speech actually made it very plain that pressure for peace would have to come from the Israel public and not from an American president who has learned his lesson about the futility of trying to impose his will on the Jewish state or on a Palestinian Authority that has consistently disappointed him.

While some on the Jewish right may only be listening to the latter part of the president’s speech in which he criticized settlements, what they need to understand is that Israel’s enemies probably stopped listening after the part where he endorsed Zionism and said those who wish to erase Israel are wasting their time. It will be those words and not his call for mutual understanding that will have the most impact.

The president may have felt that he had to precede any talk about peace with a stirring paean to Zionism and the right of Israel to defend itself against its enemies in order to make them feel safe enough to compromise. But to a Palestinian political culture that still seeks Israel’s delegitimization, that is an invitation to confrontation, not accommodation. So long as Palestinian nationalism is bound up with rejection of Zionism, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for even a stronger Palestinian leader than Abbas to make peace. And that is why he will, no doubt to President Obama’s frustration, continue to avoid talks like the plague.

Obama’s Jerusalem speech about the virtues of a two-state solution is no more likely to produce one than the one George W. Bush gave in 2002 when he became the first U.S. president to officially endorse the creation of a Palestinian state. Then, too, Bush couched his support for the concept in a context of Israeli security and Palestinian rights (though Bush also endorsed Palestinian democracy, a point that Obama wisely avoided since Abbas is now serving in the ninth year of a four-year term). But while Bush’s heartfelt support helped encourage then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to withdraw from Gaza (a colossal blunder that has worsened the country’s security and that neither Netanyahu nor any other Israeli leader will repeat in the West Bank), it did nothing to move the Palestinians. For all of his rhetorical brilliance, Obama’s chances of succeeding where Bush failed are minimal.

In the absence of any peace proposal that will hinge on American pressure on Israel to make concessions, nothing will come of Obama’s peace advocacy. Obama’s critics on the right, both here and in Israel, may say that his Zionist rhetoric is insincere and that the only aspects of his speeches that can be believed are those that call for Israeli concessions. But while he may not, as Aaron David Miller said, be “in love with the idea of Israel,” he gave a plausible impression of someone who is an ardent supporter of that idea this week. After this trip, it is simply not possible to claim he is Israel’s enemy, even if some of his advice to it is unwise.

The irony here is that the Jewish right that will attack Obama for his speech is probably as wrong about its impact as the left that cheers it. As long as the Palestinians remain unwilling to make peace, it doesn’t matter what the Israelis do or what Obama says about the subject.

Voir aussi:

20 Mars 2013

Obama, le faux détracteur d’Israël

Frédéric Encel, géopolitologue et professeur à l’ESG Management School, souligne que le président américain n’a jamais menacé de sanctions Benyamin Netanyahu pour sa conduite du ­dossier palestinien.

Frédéric Encel

Le Figaro

À en croire la plupart des observateurs, les relations israélo-américaines, à l’instar de celles qui prévalent entre Barack Obama et Benyamin Netanyahu depuis (et pour encore!) quatre années, seraient exécrables. Or rien n’est moins vrai.

Certes, le président américain reproche à son vis-à-vis israélien depuis leur investiture concomitante, début 2009, de ne pas faire assez d’efforts pour reprendre les pourparlers avec le président palestinien, Mahmoud Abbas, et le lui exprime ouvertement: poignées de main glaciales à chacune de leurs entrevues, critiques publiques, absence de visite en Israël jusqu’à présent, etc. Les quatre mandats successifs de Bill Clinton et George Bush junior avaient habitué les Israéliens à plus de chaleur! Mais ces pressions ne sont pas sérieuses. Car un président américain exerçant de véritables pressions les ­assortit de menaces de sanctions.

En décembre 1948, Harry Truman (pourtant pro-israélien) exhorte David Ben Gourion à replier ses troupes victorieuses du Sinaï égyptien en pleine première guerre israélo-arabe, sous peine de blocus économique. Israël ne pourrait survivre à une telle mesure, et le fondateur de l’État juif s’incline. En octobre 1956, Dwight Eisenhower menace le même premier ministre de la même sanction s’il ne se retire pas du même terri­toire, conquis lors de la campagne de Suez. Tout comme leurs alliés français et britanniques, les Israéliens sont contraints de se retirer du sol égyptien. En octobre 1991, George Bush senior menace Yitzhak Shamir de lui refuser 10 milliards de garanties bancaires nécessaires à intégrer le million d’immigrants juifs d’URSS fraîchement arrivés s’il rejette la conférence internationale de Madrid. Bien que faucon, Shamir s’y rendra finalement… Barack Obama, lui, n’a jamais menacé le nationaliste Netanyahu de sanctions, sur aucun plan.

Économiquement d’abord, même si Israël dépend nettement moins de son allié qu’autrefois, Obama aurait pu menacer de diminuer l’aide américaine annuelle de 3 milliards de dollars. Il n’en fit rien. Diplomatiquement ensuite, il aurait pu, à l’Assemblée générale comme au Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies, s’abstenir ou même condamner Jérusalem à l’instar de la majorité des autres capitales lors des votes concernant plusieurs affaires – la flottille turque (juin 2009), le rapport Goldstone (novembre 2009), ou encore la reconnaissance de l’État de Palestine (novembre 2012). Or les États-Unis (ainsi que leurs alliés micro-insulaires du Pacifique!) soutinrent indéfectiblement Israël durant tout le mandat d’Obama. Militairement, enfin, ce dernier aurait pu refuser la livraison à Tsahal des puissantes bombes perforantes BLU et GBU ou ralentir la coopération balistique du programme «Dôme de fer», fragilisant Israël tant face à l’Iran que vis-à-vis du Hamas et du Hezbollah. Il s’en abstint. Comme l’indiquait le président hébreu Shimon Pérès lors de sa récente visite à Paris, jamais la coopération technologique et militaire israélo-américaine n’aura au contraire atteint une telle intensité.

Pourquoi donc ce grand écart entre le verbe et les actes? En premier lieu à cause du Congrès. Sénateurs et représentants, démocrates comme républicains, sont extrêmement défavorables à des pressions sur Israël au moment où son voisinage s’islamise (Égypte), implose en guerre civile (Syrie) ou se nucléarise (Iran). En second lieu, Obama a d’autres dossiers brûlants à traiter – outre sa lutte interne avec les républicains sur les questions socio-économiques -, à commencer par la bombe iranienne, cauchemar non seulement d’Israël, mais aussi des alliés arabes sunnites pétrolifères de Washington (Arabie saoudite). Il doit aussi gérer les tensions montantes avec la Russie, la Chine, la Corée du Nord ou encore le Pakistan ; devant ces titans asiatiques surarmés et les risques de conflits entre eux (Inde/Pakistan, Chine/Japon, etc.), le dossier palestinien apparaît franchement marginal, surtout par ces temps de calme relatif.

Le locataire de la Maison-Blanche tapera-t-il du poing sur la table durant son second mandat? Non, d’autant moins que la nouvelle coalition de «Bibi» est plus présentable que la précédente, ­dépourvue de ministres ultraorthodoxes mais riche de la très appréciée Tzipi Livni, en charge du… processus de paix. Mais, en définitive, la vraie question n’est-elle pas de savoir si Obama croit encore possible le règlement du conflit israélo-palestinien? Si tel n’est pas le cas, on lui souhaite un agréable séjour touristique au Proche-Orient.

Frédéric Encel est l’auteur de l’«Atlas géopolitique d’Israël» (Autrement, 2012)

Voir également:

En Israël, Obama voyage en quête d’agrément

Libération

19 mars 2013

Le président américain entame aujourd’hui une visite de quatre jours, sans plan de paix, mais avec l’espoir de redorer son image dans la région.

Lorraine Millot Correspondante à Washington

Avant même son arrivée en Israël aujourd’hui, Barack Obama ne jure plus que par «Bibi». Dans une interview à la télévision israélienne, au grand amusement des diplomates, le président américain n’a cessé d’employer le surnom du Premier ministre de l’Etat hébreu pour assurer que sa relation avec «Bibi» est «professionnelle et formidable». Fini donc le temps des insultes, quand le président américain se voulait trop occupé pour recevoir le même Benyamin Nétanyahou de passage à l’ONU, ou lorsqu’un journaliste bien introduit à la Maison Blanche, Jeffrey Goldberg, pouvait rapporter, en janvier encore, qu’Obama considérait le dirigeant israélien comme un «lâche».

Le voyage de quatre jours que Barack Obama entame aujourd’hui en Israël, dans les Territoires palestiniens et en Jordanie, vise à remettre la relation israélo-américaine sur de meilleurs rails après toute une série de malentendus, épreuves de force et crises de nerfs.

«Touriste». Le Président n’arrive pas porteur d’une «nouvelle initiative» de paix, a prévenu d’entrée la Maison Blanche, qui s’est efforcée de réduire les attentes autant que possible à l’approche de cette visite. Le principal objectif d’Obama sera de «parler directement aux Israéliens», a souligné son conseiller Ben Rhodes. L’apogée du voyage sera un discours aux jeunes Israéliens demain, au Centre des conventions de Jérusalem, explique-t-on à Washington, dans l’espoir de faire un peu mieux apprécier Obama en Israël (il y est encore très impopulaire) et de pouvoir par la suite s’appuyer sur l’opinion publique locale pour peser sur Nétanyahou. «Le conflit israélo-palestinien n’est plus une nécessité, mais seulement un hobby pour les diplomates américains», en a déduit l’éditorialiste du New York Times Thomas Friedman. «Obama pourrait bien être le premier président américain à visiter Israël en touriste», poursuivait-il dans un récent éditorial bien senti.

A défaut de présenter ses propositions de paix lors de ce voyage, Obama a prévu de multiplier les étapes symboliques : en Israël, il visitera une batterie du système antimissile «Dôme de fer», il ira au Musée national admirer les manuscrits de la mer Morte, se recueillera à Yad Vashem, le mémorial de l’Holocauste, et aussi sur les tombes d’Yitzhak Rabin et de Theodor Herzl, le fondateur du mouvement sioniste. L’idée est d’honorer les racines historiques d’Israël pour corriger une impression malheureuse donnée par Obama qui, dans son fameux discours du Caire au monde musulman, avait semblé fonder toute la légitimité d’Israël sur l’Holocauste. La visite sur la tombe de Herzl sera pour le moins inhabituelle, comme le soulignait Martin Indyk lors d’un récent briefing au think tank Brookings. «J’espère qu’ils réussiront à la trouver», ironisait cet ancien ambassadeur américain à Tel-Aviv, avouant n’y être lui-même encore jamais allé.

Côté palestinien, Barack Obama a prévu de se rendre à la basilique de la Nativité à Bethléem – adressant ainsi un geste aux chrétiens pris dans la tourmente des printemps arabes -, et de rencontrer quelques jeunes à Ramallah, de façon plus informelle, en marge de ses entretiens avec Mahmoud Abbas et le Premier ministre, Salam Fayyad. En Jordanie enfin, Obama compte visiter le site de Pétra plutôt qu’un des camps où des centaines de milliers de réfugiés syriens affluent. S’il s’en tient à ce programme, le président américain risque effectivement de donner une allure «touristique» à ce voyage.

«Nuance». Les sujets sérieux de discussion avec les dirigeants israéliens et palestiniens ne manqueront tout de même pas, le plus pressant restant le programme nucléaire iranien. Washington et l’Etat hébreu ont des «différences de nuance» sur l’Iran, rappelle Natan Sachs, un autre expert de l’institut Brookings : «Les Israéliens mettent l’accent sur la capacité nucléaire iranienne, tandis que les Américains se focalisent sur l’arme nucléaire elle-même, ce qui fait une différence importante de calendrier.»

Au cours de son interview à la télévision israélienne enregistrée la semaine dernière, Obama a estimé que Téhéran «aurait encore besoin d’à peu près un an pour développer une arme nucléaire». Lors de son fameux discours aux Nations unies de septembre, Benyamin Nétanyahou avait annoncé que l’Iran pourrait construire sa première bombe dès le printemps ou l’été 2013. Puisque l’heure est au «redémarrage» de la relation, en public du moins, Obama et «Bibi» devraient pourtant afficher lors de cette visite une même approche : donner encore quelques mois de négociation à l’Iran, tout en le menaçant de frappes militaires s’il ne saisit pas cette dernière chance.

Voir enfin:

Mr. Obama Goes to Israel

Thomas Friedman

The New York Times

March 12, 2013

In case you haven’t heard, President Obama leaves for Israel next week. It is possible, though, that you haven’t heard because it is hard for me to recall a less-anticipated trip to Israel by an American president. But there is a message in that empty bottle: Little is expected from this trip — not only because little is possible, but because, from a narrow U.S. point of view, little is necessary. Quietly, with nobody announcing it, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has shifted from a necessity to a hobby for American diplomats. Like any hobby — building model airplanes or knitting sweaters — some days you work on it, some days you don’t. It depends on your mood, but it doesn’t usually matter when that sweater gets finished. Obama worked on this hobby early in his first term. He got stuck as both parties rebuffed him, and, therefore, he adopted, quite rationally in my view, an attitude of benign neglect. It was barely noticed.

The shift in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from necessity to hobby for the U.S. is driven by a number of structural changes, beginning with the end of the cold war. There was a time when it was truly feared that an Arab-Israeli war could trigger a wider superpower conflict. During the October 1973 war, President Nixon raised America’s military readiness to Defcon 3 to signal the Soviets to stay away. That is not likely to happen today, given the muted superpower conflict over the Middle East. Moreover, the discovery of massive amounts of oil and gas in the U.S., Canada and Mexico is making North America the new Saudi Arabia. So who needs the old one?

Of course, oil and gas are global commodities, and any disruption of flows from the Middle East would drive up prices. But though America still imports some oil from the Middle East, we will never again be threatened with gas lines by another Arab oil embargo sparked by anger over Palestine. For China and India, that is another matter. For them, the Middle East has gone from a hobby to a necessity. They are both hugely dependent on Middle East oil and gas. If anyone should be advancing Arab-Israeli (and Sunni-Shiite) peace diplomacy today it is the foreign ministers of India and China.

Writing in Foreign Policy magazine last week, Robin M. Mills, the head of consulting at Manaar Energy, noted that “according to preliminary figures reported this week, China has overtaken the United States as the world’s largest net oil importer.” Mills described this as a “shift as momentous as the U.S. eclipse of Britain’s Royal Navy or the American economy’s surpassing of the British economy in the late 19th century. … The United States is set to become the world’s biggest oil producer by 2017.”

At the same time, while the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict emotionally resonates across the Arab-Muslim world, and solving it is necessary for regional stability, it is clearly not sufficient. The most destabilizing conflict in the region is the civil war between Shiites and Sunnis that is rocking Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and Yemen. While it would be a good thing to erect a Palestinian state at peace with Israel, the issue today is will there be anymore a Syrian state, a Libyan state and an Egyptian state.

Finally, while America’s need to forge Israeli-Palestinian peace has never been lower, the obstacles have never been higher: Israel has now implanted 300,000 settlers in the West Bank, and the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza have seriously eroded the appetite of the Israeli silent majority to withdraw from the West Bank, since one puny rocket alone from there could close Israel’s international airport in Lod.

For all these reasons, Obama could be the first sitting American president to visit Israel as a tourist.

Good news for Israel, right? Wrong. While there may be fewer reasons for the U.S. to take risks to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is still a powerful reason for Israel to do so. The status quo today may be tolerable for Israel, but it is not healthy. And more status quo means continued Israeli settlements in, and tacit annexation of, the West Bank. That’s why I think the most important thing Obama could do on his trip is to publicly and privately ask every Israeli official he meets these questions:

“Please tell me how your relentless settlement drive in the West Bank does not end up with Israel embedded there — forever ruling over 2.5 million Palestinians with a colonial-like administration that can only undermine Israel as a Jewish democracy and delegitimize Israel in the world community? I understand why Palestinian dysfunction and the Arab awakening make you wary, but still. Shouldn’t you be constantly testing and testing whether there is a Palestinian partner for a secure peace? After all, you have a huge interest in trying to midwife a decent West Bank Palestinian state that is modern, multireligious and pro-Western — a totally different model from the Muslim Brotherhood variants around you. Everyone is focused on me and what will I do. But, as a friend, I just want to know one thing: What is your long-term strategy? Do you even have one?”

Voir enfin:

Obama’s mysterious visit

Caroline B. Glick

The Jerusalem Post

19/03/2013

In contrast to the high expectations the White House cultivated in pre-Cairo visit statements, Obama has downplayed his visit to Israel.

Why is US President Barack Obama coming to Israel today? In 2008, then president George W. Bush came to celebrate Israel’s 60th Independence Day, and to reject Israeli requests for assistance in destroying Iran’s nuclear installations.

In 1996, then-president Bill Clinton came to Israel to help then-prime minister Shimon Peres’s electoral campaign against Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu.

It is possible that Obama is coming here in order to build up pro-Israel bonafides. But why would he bother? Obama won his reelection bid with the support of the overwhelming majority of American Jews. Their support vindicated his hostility toward Israel in his first term. He has nothing to prove.

It is worth comparing Obama’s visit to Israel at the start of his second term of office, with his visit to Cairo at the outset of his first term in office.

Ahead of that trip, the new administration promised that the visit, and particularly Obama’s “Address to the Muslim World,” would serve as a starting point for a new US policy in the Middle East. And Obama lived up to expectations.

In speaking to the “Muslim World,” Obama signaled that the US now supported pan-Islamists at the expense of US allies and Arab nationalist leaders, first and foremost then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Moreover, in castigating Israel for its so-called “settlements”; channeling Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by intimating that Israel exists because of the Holocaust; and failing to travel from Cairo to Jerusalem, preferring instead to visit a Nazi death camp in Germany, Obama signaled that he was downgrading US ties with the Jewish state.

In sharp contrast to the high expectations the Obama White House cultivated in pre-Cairo visit statements and leaks, Obama and his advisers have downplayed the importance of his visit to Israel, signaling there will be no significant changes in Obama’s policies toward Israel or the wider Middle East.

For instance, in his interview with Israel television’s Channel 2 last week, on issue after issue, Obama made clear that there will be no departure from his first term’s policies. He will continue to speak firmly and do nothing to prevent Iran from developing the means to produce nuclear weapons.

He will not release convicted Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard from federal prison despite the fact that Pollard’s life sentence, and the 28 years he has already served in prison are grossly disproportionate to all sentences passed on and served by offenders who committed similar crimes.

As for the Palestinians, Obama repeated his fierce opposition to Jewish communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines, and his insistence that Israel must get over its justified fears regarding Palestinian intentions and withdraw from Judea and Samaria, for its own good.

Given that all of these are positions he has held throughout his presidency, the mystery surrounding his decision to come to Israel only grows. He didn’t need to come to Israel to rehash policies we already know.

Much of the coverage of Obama’s trip has focused on symbolism. For instance, the administration decided to boycott Ariel University by not inviting its students to attend Obama’s speech to students from all other universities that is set to take place on Thursday in Jerusalem. In boycotting Ariel, Obama’s behavior is substantively the same as that of Britain’s Association of University Teachers. In 2005 that body voted to boycott University of Haifa and Ben-Gurion University in the Negev. But while the AUT’s action was universally condemned, Obama’s decision to bar Israelis whose university is located in a city with 20,000 residents just because their school is located beyond the 1949 armistice lines has generated litte attention.

Then again, seeing as Obama’s snub of Ariel University is in keeping with the White House’s general war with anyone who disputes its view that Judea and Samaria are Arab lands, the lack of outrage at his outrageous behavior makes sense. It doesn’t represent a departure from his positions in his first term.

The only revealing aspect of Obama’s itinerary is his decision to on the one hand bypass Israel’s elected representatives by spurning the invitation to speak before the Knesset; and on the other hand to address a handpicked audience of university students – an audience grossly overpopulated by unelectable, radical leftists.

In the past, US presidents have spoken before audiences of Israeli leftists in order to elevate and empower the political Left against the Right. But this is the first time that a US president has spurned not only the elected Right, but elected leftist politicians as well, by failing to speak to the Knesset, while actively courting the unelectable radical Left through his talk to a university audience.

Clinton constantly embraced the Israeli Left while spurning the Right – famously refusing to meet with then prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in 1997 while both leaders’ jets were parked on the same tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport.

Clinton’s assiduous courtship of Israel’s Left enabled him to portray himself as a true friend of Israel, even as he openly sought to undermine and overthrow the elected government of the country.

But Clinton always favored leftist politicians – Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak – over rightist politicians. He did not spurn leftist politicians in favor of even more radical unelectable leftists.

So what does Obama seek to achieve with this novel practice? Clearly he is not attempting to use the opportunity of addressing this audience to express contrition for his first term’s policies. In his interview with Channel 2, Obama spoke of the instability on Israel’s borders – but never mentioned the key role he played in overthrowing Mubarak and empowering the Muslim Brotherhood, thus emptying of meaning Israel’s peace treaty with the most populous Arab state.

He never mentioned that his feckless handling of Syria’s civil war ensured that the moderate opposition forces would be eclipsed by radical Islamists affiliated with al-Qaida, as has happened, or expressed concern that al-Qaida forces are now deployed along Syria’s border with Israel, and that there is a real and rising danger that Syria’s arsenals of chemical and biological weapons, as well as its ballistic missiles, will fall into their hands. Indeed, Tuesday it was reported that the al-Qaida infiltrated opposition attacked regime forces with chemical weapons.

Obama will not use his speech before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s most outspoken critics to express remorse over the hostility with which he treated Israel’s leader for the past four years. He will not admit that his decision to coerce Israel into suspending Jewish property rights in Judea and Samaria in his first term gave the PLO justification for refusing to meet with or negotiate with the Israeli government.

So since he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong, and he intends to continue the same policies in his second term, why did he decide to come to Israel? And why is he addressing, and so seeking to empower the radical, unelectable Left? Obama’s speech in Cairo to the Muslim world was held at the Islamist Al-Azhar Univerity. By speaking at Al-Azhar, Obama weakened Mubarak in three different ways. First, Al-Azhar’s faculty members regularly issue religious rulings calling for the murder of non-Muslims, prohibiting the practice of Judaism, and facilitating the victimization of women. In stating these views, Al-Azhar’s leadership has demonstrated that their world view and values are far less amenable to American strategic interests and moral values than Mubarak’s world view was. By speaking at Al-Azhar, Obama signaled that he would reward the anti-American Islamists at the expense of the pro-American Arab nationalists.

Second, in contempt of Mubarak’s explicit wishes, Obama insisted on inviting members of the Muslim Brotherhood to attend his speech. In acting as he did, Obama signaled that under his leadership, the US was abandoning its support for Mubarak and transferring its sympathies to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Finally, by addressing his remarks to the Muslim nation, Obama was perceived as openly rejecting Egyptian nationalism, and indeed the concept of unique national identities among the various Arab states. In so doing, Obama undercut the legitimacy of the Egyptian regime while legitimizing the pan- Islamic Muslim Brotherhood which rejects nationalism in favor of a call for the establishment of a global caliphate.

As subsequent events showed, the conditions for the Egyptian revolution that brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power were prepared during Obama’s speech at al-Azhar.

It is possible that in addressing the unelected radical Left in Jerusalem, Obama seeks to undermine the legitimacy of the Israeli government. But if that is the plan, then it would bespeak an extraordinary contempt and underestimation of Israeli democracy. Such a plan would not play out the same way his Egyptian speech did.

There are two possible policies Obama would want to empower Israel’s radical, unelectable Left in order to advance. First, he could be strengthening these forces to help them pressure the government to make concessions to the Palestinians in order to convince the Palestinian Authority to renew negotiations and accept an Israeli peace offer.

While Obama indicated in his interview with Channel 2 that this is his goal, it is absurd to believe it. Obama knows there is no chance that the Palestinians will accept a deal from Israel. PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat both rejected Israeli peace offers made by far more radical Israeli governments than the new Netanyahu government. Moreover, the Palestinians refused to meet with Israeli negotiators while Mubarak was still in power. With the Muslim Brotherhood now in charge in Cairo, there is absolutely no way they will agree to negotiate – let alone accept a deal.

This leaves another glaring possibility. Through the radical Left, Obama may intend to foment a pressure campaign to force the government to withdraw unilaterally from all or parts of Judea and Samaria, as Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005. If this is Obama’s actual policy goal, it would represent a complete Europeanization of US policy toward Israel. It was the EU that funded radical leftist groups that pushed for Israel’s unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005.

And in the past week, a number of commentators have spoken and written in favor of such a plan.

The truth we don’t know why Obama is coming to Israel. The Obama administration has not indicated where its Israel policy is going. And Obama’s Republican opposition is in complete disarray on foreign policy and not in any position to push him to reveal his plans.

What we can say with certainty is that the administration that supports the “democratically elected” Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and did so much to clear all obstacles to its election, is snubbing the democratically elected Israeli government, and indeed, Israel’s elected officials in general. Obama’s transmission of this message in the lead-up to this visit, through symbols and action alike does not bode well for Israel’s relations with the US in the coming four years.


Argentine: Attention, une dictature peut en cacher une autre (Who will even mention Argentina’s forgotten terror victims ?)

23 mars, 2013
https://i2.wp.com/lapoliticaonline.com/data/img_cont/img_imagenes/img_gr/11391.jpghttps://i0.wp.com/www.truthdig.com/images/eartothegrounduploads/kirchnerchavezmorales_300.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/elsolonline.com/archivos/imagenes/2013/03/pagina12_2628963-240.jpgDurant les années 1970, Horacio Verbitsky fut membre des Montoneros, une organisation péroniste pour laquelle il porta les armes. En 1976, quelques mois après le coup d’état militaire, il fut inculpé avec 6 autres Montoneros pour avoir été impliqué dans la planification et l’exécution d’un attentat contre la police fédérale faisant 21 morts parmi les agents du renseignement. La procédure judiciaire sera finalement close en 2007 en raison de la loi de prescription. Dans les années 90, à la direction de Pagina 12, il contribue à révéler plusieurs affaires de corruption et de pot de vins touchant le gouvernement ou la famille du président Carlos Menem puis apporte dans les années 2000 et 2010 un soutien appuyé à la politique menée par les gouvernements de Nestor et Cristina Kirchner. Wikipedia
Les anciens Montoneros, coupables d’attentats sanglants, d’assassinats, d’enlèvements et de tortures, grouillent à la tête de l’Etat à Buenos Aires depuis la présidence des Kirchner, et l’un d’entre eux, Carlos Bettini, est même ambassadeur en Espagne. Eduardo Luis Duhalde, secrétaire aux Droits de l’homme, Miguel Bonasso, député et conseiller présidentiel, Carlos Kunkel, porte-parole de la présidence (amnistié de ses crimes en 1984 par la loi Punto final dont les militaires ont été écartés), Rafael Bielsa, ex-ministre des Affaires étrangères qui a travaillé en exil pour Pinochet, Horacio Verbitsky, conseiller présidentiel, Anibal Fernandez, chef du cabinet présidentiel, Julio Cesar Urien, capitaine de frégate auteur de tortures dans les « prisons du peuple » et du « manuel d’instruction des milices montoneras », réhabilité par Kirchner en 2006 avec paiement rétroactif de sa solde depuis 1972, et surtout Nilda Garré, ex-ministre de la Défense de Nestor Kirchner, devenue ministre de la Sécurité (police et gendarmerie) en décembre dernier sous la présidence de Cristina de Kirchner. « Comandante Teresa » dans la guérilla des Montoneros, elle a été complice de crimes, commis notamment par son mari Juan Manuel Abal Medina et le frère de celui-ci, contre le général Aramburu en 1970 et l’ex-ministre de l’Intérieur Arturo Mor Roig en 1974 (qui avait légalisé les partis politiques et contribué au retour de la démocratie en 1973 avec l’élection de Juan Peron). Quant à Carlos Bettini, impliqué dans le meurtre du capitaine Jorge Bigliardi en 1975, donc en pleine période constitutionnelle sous la présidence d’Isabel Peron, il pourrait quitter incessamment son poste d’ambassadeur à Madrid pour devenir l’éminence grise de Cristina Kirchner, son ancienne petite amie… Jacques Thomet
Chacun sait comment la junte militaire renversa le gouvernement en 1976 et écrasa ensuite sans pitié les mouvements de subversion. Ses abus de pouvoir furent légion et, en 1983, elle quitta le pouvoir dans un pays plongé dans une hyper inflation et le chaos économique. Mais l’Argentine avait vécu une autre tragédie antérieure, et pendant quelque temps après que les militaires eurent saisi le pouvoir. Ce fut une vague de carnage et de destruction déclenchée par des bandes de guérillas s’inspirant de Castro, pour tenter de prendre le pouvoir en terrorisant la nation. Leurs actions provoquèrent le chaos à l’échelle nationale, puis le coup d’Etat militaire. Pourtant, à cause de la fin honteuse de la junte militaire, les terroristes et leurs sympathisants réussirent à réécrire l’histoire en ne relatant que les seuls crimes de leur ennemi en uniforme. D’ex-membres ou membres actuels du gouvernement Kirchner, d’autres du Congrès et d’autres travaillant dans les média furent des membres bien connus d’organisations subversives. . Mary Anastasia O’Grady
Patagonian roots aside, the president’s main interest in escalating the Falklands row may be to deflect looming domestic difficulties. The government is attempting to untangle expensive state subsidies which will hurt its blue-collar base. Analysts say inflation is more than double the official figure. The government is so desperate to massage the numbers it has prohibited economic consultancy firms publishing private inflation estimates. Compounding that unease, a constitutional ban on a third term means Fernández could soon be embroiled in a fraught effort to change the constitution so she can run again. The alternative will be to watch her authority gradually ebb. « A Peronist president without the chance of re-election becomes a lame duck. Once the Malvinas issue fades back into the background, the fight of succession will come to the fore and her monolithic power could reduce her flexibility when it comes to dealing with the Peronists, » said Romer, the analyst. « Her great strength could become her greatest weakness. » Tapping semi-dormant passions over the Falklands is a largely cost-free way to consolidate her base and deter would-be successors from moving too soon. Fernández has also been emboldened by the zeitgeist: South America has discovered it can, perhaps for the first time in its history, safely challenge the old colonial powers. A « pink tide » of nationalistic leftwing governments senses the region’s time has come after centuries of marginalisation. China’s rapid rise as a trading partner has further weakened European leverage. « South America doesn’t have the respect it used to have for Europe. It feels it is on top now and is flexing its new muscles, » said a senior European diplomat. Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva made a global splash railing against western bankers, Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez did the same railing against western imperialism and the Falklands gave Fernández her own cause, said Romer. « She is using Malvinas to expand her visibility on the international arena. » Lucrative fishing concessions have made the Falklands wealthy, and when in 2010 four British companies announced they were going to search for an estimated 8.3bn barrels of oil in Falkland waters, it added resource nationalism to the combustible mix of history and wounded pride. London’s blunt dismissal of Argentinian concerns over financial and environmental implications aggravated Fernández all the more. Rio Gallegos remains cold and windy but nobody expects to see a new generation of conscripts tramping aboard Falkland-bound planes. Fernández is not desperate or stupid. She is simply extracting advantage from a clump of islands her compatriots consider unfinished business. And in the process becoming, for many, Argentina’s own iron lady. The Guardian
Wrapping himself in the mantle of Simon Bolivar, the revolutionary leader of the early 19th century who led the fight for independence from the Spanish empire, Chavez led his own battle to free his country and region from what he saw as the hegemony of the neo-liberal, neo-colonalist superpower north of the Gulf of Mexico. (…) His politics, a blend of socialism, populism, authoritarianism and nationalism, became known as ‘Chavismo,’ his followers were ‘Chavistas.’ His goal was what he called the ‘Bolivarian revolution.’ In foreign policy terms, that meant a dual strategy, of ‘Latin America first’ and “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” (the enemy of course being the Yanqui imperialist.) To advance this strategy, he used Venezuela’s greatest source of wealth and power, its oil. That second rule of thumb basically explained Chavez’ forays outside the Americas: his establishment of an anti-US ‘Axis of Unity’ with Iran, his support for the Gaddafi dictatorship in Libya and most recently for Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria. Anti-Americanism drew Venezuela close to Moscow, and led him to denounce Israel – with whom Chavez broke off diplomatic relations after the 2008/9 war in Gaza – as a “genocidal state” and the “assassin arm of the United States.”(…) And it was over Cuba where Chavez’ impact was greatest. The billions of dollars of aid he gave the island, much in the form of heavily subsidized oil, may have been the difference between survival and collapse for the Communist regime. Over time a pattern developed, as oil-rich Venezuela under Chavez emerged as the leader of the poorer and more leftist countries of region: not just Cuba, but Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia, and some Caribbean island nations. The bloc took formal economic shape in 2004 with the creation of ALBA, the ‘Alternativa Bolivariana para las Americas,’ set up to as a rival to the orthodox, free trade areas in the hemisphere. But it wasn’t just the ALBA members who didn’t want to offend Chavez: his wont to give contracts to non-US companies won him a hearing with the region’s richer countries too. By the time of his illness, however, his influence even in Latin America had waned. One reason was the decline in his physical powers. Another was the arrival of a new administration in Washington: Despite evidence that Venezuela was even abetting drugs trafficking into the US, Barack Obama struck a less confrontational note than his predecessor. For much the same reason, US relations with Brazil and Argentina have been smoother, offering Chavez less leverage. At the same time, left wing governments aligned with Venezuela have run into difficulties. And not least, the regional economic climate has changed. The appeal of ‘Chavismo’ was never greater than after the Latin American financial crises of the late 90s, culminating in Argentina’s 2001 default, seeming proof of the failure of the Western-style capitalism excoriated by Chavez. As it is, the last remotely ‘Chavista’ leader elected was Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner in 2007. The Independent
This article was amended on 14 March 2013. The original article, published in 2011, wrongly suggested that Argentinian journalist Horacio Verbitsky claimed that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio connived with the Argentinian navy to hide political prisoners on an island called El Silencio during an inspection by human rights monitors. Although Verbitsky makes other allegations about Bergoglio’s complicity in human rights abuses, he does not make this claim. The original article also wrongly described El Silencio as Bergoglio’s « holiday home ». This has been corrected. The Guardian
Rien de tout cela n’est important pour ceux qui tentent de faire de l’Argentine le prochain Venezuela. Ce qui les fâche, c’est que le père Bergoglio croyait que le marxisme (et la « théologie de la libération » qu’il avait inspirée) était antithétiques au christianisme et qu’il avait refusé de l’adopter dans les années 1970. D’où les désaccords tant avec ceux à l’intérieur de l’ordre des Jésuites de l’époque qui croyaient à la révolution qu’avec les Montoneros qui multipliaient les mutilations, enlèvements et assassinats de civils pour terroriser la population. Criminels dont un bon nombre sont toujours là aujourd’hui et n’ont toujours pas abandonné leurs rêves de révolution. Mary Anastasia O’Grady
Mr. Treviño’s site mainly went after the opposition leader for anti-Semitic remarks and his alliance with the Islamist party PAS, and even accused him of links to terrorists through the International Institute of Islamic Thought. Mr. Anwar has made anti-Semitic comments—though that’s in part to fend off domestic accusations that he’s too cozy with Zionists. He also has ties to organizations that have taken Saudi money, but the suggestion that he somehow has « ties to terrorism » is preposterous. (…) Influence-peddling has a long and sordid history in Washington, and governments that use repressive methods at home yet want to remain on friendly terms with the U.S. typically have the biggest bankrolls. It’s not unheard of for PR operators to pay less reputable journalists and think- tankers to write favorable coverage, as the Jack Abramoff case in the mid-2000s showed. The Malaysian scheme, however, is notable because it drew in respected writers such as Rachel Ehrenfeld, who has contributed to the Journal in the past and took $30,000, Claire Berlinski, who got $6,750, and Seth Mandel, an editor at Commentary magazine, who was paid $5,500. Some of the articles appeared in well-known publications such as National Review and the Washington Times. Mr. Najib’s falling popularity at home suggests his days as Prime Minister could be numbered. The irony is that he was more democratic and played a more responsible role in the region than his predecessors. Even opposition figures have quietly admitted to us that he has steered Malaysia in the right direction. That should have been more than enough for a legitimate public relations operation to work with. Resorting to underhanded tactics to undermine the opposition has only backfired for Mr. Najib, at home and abroad. The WSJ

Attention: une dictature peut en cacher une autre !

 A l’heure où, ne reculant devant aucune démagogie, la nouvelle Evita argentine (ou Chavista – merci les valises de billets de Chavez !) est en train apparemment de nous refaire le coup des Malouines …

Et que nos médias pressés se font les courroies de transmission, plus ou moins volontaires et des deux côtés de l’Atlantique ou de la Manche (voire jusqu’en Malaisie !), des campagnes de calomnie du moment …

Qui rappellera, hormis un bien solitaire WSJ derrière l’omerta politiquement correcte actuelle, que ceux qui alimentent la pompe à calomnies contre un nouveau pape ayant le tort de penser, sans compter les Malouines ou le mariage homo, que « le marxisme comme la ‘théologie de la libération’ qu’il avait inspirée sont antithétiques au christianisme » …

Sont les mêmes qui,  outre les milliers de victimes commodément oubliées du terrorisme d’extrême-gauche, ont précipité le putsch militaire de 1976 et réécrivent aujourd’hui l’histoire au profit de l’actuel pouvoir argentin en place ?

 

LES VICTIMES OUBLIEES DU TERRORISME EN ARGENTINE

Maria Anastasia O’Grady

The WSJ

3 janvier 2011

traduction Yves/jacqus Thomet

Des milliers de personnes ont souffert du déchaînement de la gauche qui précipita le putsch militaire de 1976.

“Ceux qui contrôlent le passé contrôlent le futur, celui qui contrôle le présent contrôle le passé.”

– Parti slogan de Big Brother, “1984,” par George Orwell

La Justice ne s’installe pas facilement partout dans le monde. Mais dans l’Argentine d’aujourd’hui, il est périlleux de seulement mentionner en public les victimes du terrorisme de la gauche du pays, sans parler de les amener à se présenter eux ou leurs proches parents survivants devant une Cour [pour témoigner]. Essayez et vous serez probablement tancé par la Gauche argentine comme un ami fasciste de l’ex-régime militaire. Les [gens] du “politiquement correct” savent que ceux qui furent brutalisés par les guérillas, que Juan Peron (ex-président) désigna une fois de “jeunesse merveilleuse”, sont censés être effacés de la mémoire nationale.

L’avocate argentine Victoria Villaruel, 35 ans, défenseur des Droits de l’Homme, s’y refuse. Elle a fondé le “Centre Argentin d’Etudes Légales du Terrorisme et de ses Victimes”, avec pour objectif de lister les milliers de crimes terroristes commis entre 1969 et 1979.

Elle pense qu’apporter la lumière sur cette sombre décennie aidera à fournir un meilleur et juste futur à tous les Argentins. Chacun sait comment la junte militaire renversa le gouvernement en 1976 et écrasa ensuite sans pitié les mouvements de subversion. Ses abus de pouvoir furent légion et, en 1983, elle quitta le pouvoir dans un pays plongé dans une hyper inflation et le chaos économique.

Mais l’Argentine avait vécu une autre tragédie antérieure, et pendant quelque temps après que les militaires eurent saisi le pouvoir. Ce fut une vague de carnage et de destruction déclenchée par des bandes de guérillas s’inspirant de Castro, pour tenter de prendre le pouvoir en terrorisant la nation. Leurs actions provoquèrent le chaos à l’échelle nationale, puis le coup d’Etat militaire. Pourtant, à cause de la fin honteuse de la junte militaire, les terroristes et leurs sympathisants réussirent à réécrire l’histoire en ne relatant que les seuls crimes de leur ennemi en uniforme. D’ex-membres ou membres actuels du gouvernement Kirchner, d’autres du Congrès et d’autres travaillant dans les média furent des membres bien connus d’organisations subversives.

Lors d’une interview à Buenos Aires en novembre 2010, Mme Villaruel m’a raconté que même les politiciens de l’opposition ne parlent pas des victimes du terrorisme car cela est devenu “tabou” de le faire. L’Etat, dit-elle, les traite comme s’ils n’étaient jamais nés.”

Le résultat est qu’une génération d’Argentins a grandi sans aucune conscience de la vraie histoire de cette époque de terreur. Mme Villaruel est de l’opinion que la “Vérité et la Justice” requiert que ces victimes soient reconnues. Son livre, “Ils s’Appelaient Les Jeunes Idéalistes”, de 2009, est un pas en avant vers ce but. Dans celui-ci, elle documente avec des photographies et des coupures de presse la dévastation que ces terroristes ont infligé à leur propre peuple. “Vaincre ou mourir”, le slogan de l’Armée Révolutionnaire du Peuple (ERP), apparaît en graffiti sur un camion dans un cliché. Ce livre comprend les photos de quelques milliers de victimes : des bébés, des adolescents, des diplomates, des businessmen, des juges, des policiers.

Les uns furent enlevés et assassinés. D’autres furent tués ou mutilés simplement parce qu’ils se trouvèrent à proximité d’une bombe qui venait d’exploser. Les mineurs (d’âge) furent enrôlés dans les armées révolutionnaires. Tous furent considérés comme du simple gibier par les rebelles qui cherchaient à refaire le monde à travers la violence. Dans cette même interview de novembre 2010, Mme Villaruel décrit le travail de son centre sur le terrorisme : consultation des archives de journaux et dialogue avec les membres des familles et les témoins quand ils y sont disposés. Beaucoup d’entre eux vivent dans la peur de représailles, dit-elle.

Elle m’a appris que le Centre est parvenu à identifier par leur nom 13.074 victimes du terrorisme. Ce sont des bilans préliminaires. Mme Villaruel est tellement soucieuse de la justesse de son travail qu’elle a fait faire un audit indépendant à deux reprises. Elle espère que les décomptes définitifs seront prêts pour le milieu de cette année 2011. Il est intéressant de noter que le nombre de procès contre la junte militaire pour abus de pouvoir totalise moins de 9.000 cas. Pendant ce temps, la justification du gouvernement Kirchner pour nier l’existence des victimes de ce terrorisme de gauche consiste à les considérer comme des victimes de crimes ordinaires, leurs auteurs étant désormais exempts de poursuites de par la loi Statut des Limitations (NDLR : sorte d’amnistie).

Mais Mme Villaruel affirme démontrer que les victimes ont été des civils attaqués par des mouvements de guérilla dans leur quête sans merci pour le pouvoir. Si ce qu’elle avance se confirme, il ne s’agirait plus en l’occurrence de Statut de Limitations, en vertu de la Convention de Genève de 1949 ratifiée par l’Argentine. Dans son étude du terrorisme des années 70, elle n’a jamais “compris les raisons pour lesquelles un groupe, s’attribuant [arbitrairement] la représentation du peuple, a décidé d’assassiner son propre peuple.

Voir aussi:

Behind the Campaign to Smear the Pope

Argentines who want their country to be the next Venezuela see Francis as an obstacle.

Mary Anastasia O’Grady

The WSJ

March 17, 2013

Argentines celebrated last week when one of their own was chosen as the new pope. But they also suffered a loss of sorts. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a tireless advocate of the poor and outspoken critic of corruption, will no longer be on hand locally to push back against the malfeasance of the government of President Cristina Kirchner.

Argentines not aligned with the regime hope that the arrival of Francis on the world stage at least will draw attention to this issue. Heaven knows the situation is growing dire.

One might have expected a swell of pride from Argentine officialdom when the news broke that the nation has produced a man so highly esteemed around the world. Instead the Kirchner government’s pit bulls in journalism—men such as Horacio Verbitsky, a former member of the guerrilla group known as the Montoneros and now an editor at the pro-government newspaper Pagina 12—immediately began a campaign to smear the new pontiff’s character and reputation at home and in the international news media.

The calumny is not new. Former members of terrorist groups like Mr. Verbitsky, and their modern-day fellow travelers in the Argentine government, have used the same tactics for years to try to destroy their enemies—anyone who doesn’t endorse their brand of authoritarianism. In this case they allege that as the Jesuits’ provincial superior in Argentina in the late 1970s, then-Father Bergoglio had links to the military government.

This is propaganda. Mrs. Kirchner and her friends aren’t yet living in the equivalent of a totalitarian state where there is no free press to counter their lies. That day may come soon. The government is now pressuring merchants, under threat of reprisals, not to buy advertising in newspapers. The only newspapers that aren’t on track to be financially ruined by this intimidation are those that the government controls and finances through official advertising, like Mr. Verbitsky’s Pagina 12. Argentines refer to the paper as « the official gazette » because it so reliably prints the government’s line.

Intellectually honest observers with firsthand knowledge of Argentina under military rule (1976-1983) are telling a much different story than the one pushed by Mr. Verbitsky and his ilk. One of those observers is Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, winner of the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize. Last week he told BBC Mundo that « there were bishops that were complicit with the dictatorship, but Bergoglio, no. » As to the charge that the priest didn’t do enough to free junta prisoners, Mr. Pérez Esquivel said: « I know personally that many bishops who asked the military government for the liberation of prisoners and priests and it was not granted. »

Former Judge Alicia Oliveira, who was herself fired by the military government and forced into hiding to avoid arrest, told the Argentine newspaper Perfil last week that during those dark days she knew Father Bergoglio well and that « he helped many people get out of the country. » In one case, she says there was a young man on the run who happened to look like the Jesuit. « He gave him his identification card and his [clergy attire] so that he could escape. »

Ms. Oliveira also told Perfil that when she was in hiding at the home of the current minister of security, Nilda Garré, the two of them « ate with Bergoglio. » As Ms. Oliveira pointed out, Ms. Garré « therefore knows all that he did. »

Graciela Fernández Meijide, a human-rights activist and former member of the national commission on the disappearance of persons, told the Argentine press last week that « of all the testimony I received, never did I receive any testimony that Bergoglio was connected to the dictatorship. »

None of this matters to those trying to turn Argentina into the next Venezuela. What embitters them is that Father Bergoglio believed that Marxism (and the related « liberation theology ») was antithetical to Christianity and refused to embrace it in the 1970s. That put him in the way of those inside the Jesuit order at the time who believed in revolution. It also put him at odds with the Montoneros, who were maiming, kidnapping and killing civilians in order to terrorize the population. Many of those criminals are still around and hold fast to their revolutionary dreams.

For them, the new pope remains a meddlesome priest. In the slums where the populist Mrs. Kirchner claims to be a champion of the poor, Francis is truly beloved because he lives the gospel. From the pulpit, with the Kirchners in the pews, he famously complained of self-absorbed politicians. He didn’t name names, but the shoe fit. Nestór Kirchner, the late president and Cristina’s husband, responded by naming him « the head of the opposition. »

As Ms. Fernández Meijide observed last week, « I have the impression that what bothers the current president is that Bergoglio would not get in line, that he denounces the continuation of extreme poverty. » That’s not the regime’s approved narrative.

Voir aussi:

Le pape et les « années de plomb » en Argentine

Christine Legrand

Le Monde

16.03.2013

Le rôle de Jorge Mario Bergoglio, le pape François, pendant la dictature militaire (1976-1983) fait l’objet de controverse depuis plusieurs années à Buenos Aires. A l’origine, le directeur du quotidien progouvernemental Pagina 12, Horacio Verbitsky, avait publié, en 2005, un livre polémique, El Silencio (non traduit), où il dénonce la complicité de l’Eglise catholique argentine avec les militaires.

Le journaliste accuse en particulier Jorge Bergoglio, qui était à l’époque responsable de la Compagnie de Jésus en Argentine, d’être impliqué dans l’enlèvement de deux jeunes prêtres jésuites qui travaillaient dans un bidonville, en 1976. Torturés pendant cinq mois, Orlando Yorio et Francisco Jalics avaient été remis en liberté et s’étaient exilés. Le premier est mort en 2000, le second vit en Allemagne. Dans un communiqué publié, vendredi 15 mars, sur le site Internet des jésuites en Allemagne, ce dernier déclare qu’il ne peut « prononcer sur le rôle du père Bergoglio dans ces événements ». Il indique aussi avoir eu « l’occasion de discuter des événements avec le père Bergoglio qui était entre-temps devenu archevêque de Buenos Aires. Nous avons ensemble célébré une messe publique (…). Je considère l’histoire comme close », a-t-il précisé.

De son côté, le porte-parole du Vatican, le Père Federico Lombardi, a dénoncé « le caractère anticlérical de ces attaques, allant jusqu’à la calomnie et la diffamation des personnes ». « La justice l’a entendu une fois et à simple titre de témoin et le père Bergoglio n’a jamais été suspecté ou accusé ». « Dans l’élaboration de la demande de pardon, Mgr Bergoglio a déploré les défaillances de l’Eglise argentine face à la dictature », souligne le Vatican.

« TALENTS D’ACTEUR »

Dans un article publié au lendemain de l’élection du pape François, M. Verbitsky, qui est également directeur du Centre d’études légales et sociales, une organisation non gouvernementale de défense des droits de l’homme, a renouvelé ses attaques, qualifiant le nouveau pontife de « populiste conservateur », qui introduira « des changements cosmétiques » au Vatican, « avec ses talents d’acteur ». Le même jour, M. Verbitsky publie un courrier électronique de Graciela Yorio dans lequel la sœur du prêtre décédé exprime « son angoisse et sa colère ». Selon elle, il aurait « laissé sans protection » les deux prêtres, adeptes de la « théologie de la libération ».

Le dictateur Jorge Rafael Videla reçoit la communion de l’évêque Octavio Derisi, en décembre 1990.

Depuis l’élection surprise d’un pape argentin, une photo montrant un prêtre de dos, donnant l’hostie à l’ancien dictateur Jorge Rafael Videla, circule sur les réseaux sociaux. Cette photo avait fait la « une » de Pagina 12, le 27 mai 2012. Aucune légende ne précisait l’identité du curé de la photo, prise en 1990, au lendemain de la sortie de prison du général Videla, gracié par l’ancien président péroniste Carlos Menem. Le photographe, travaillant pour l’AFP et le quotidien argentin Cronica, l’a identifié : l’évêque Octavio Derisi, mort en 2002.

De leur côté, deux journalistes argentins, Francesca Ambrogetti de l’agence italienne ANSA et Sergio Rubin, spécialiste des affaires religieuses du quotidien Clarin (opposition), ont publié en 2010 l’ouvrage El Jesuita (non traduit), portrait élogieux de Mgr Bergoglio. Les témoignages recueillis, en particulier d’anciennes victimes, démentent toute collaboration avec les militaires, affirmant qu’au contraire il a aidé de nombreuses victimes, dont l’avocate Alicia Oliveira. Juge au moment du coup d’Etat de 1976, elle fut persécutée par les militaires. « Il m’a sauvé la vie », dit-elle. « Il y a eu des évêques complices de la dictature militaire, mais pas Bergoglio », ajoute Adolfo Perez Esquivel, prix Nobel de la paix.

Estela de Carlotto, présidente de l’Association des mères et grands-mères de la Place de Mai, à Buenos Aires, le 15 mars. Elle reproche au pape de n’avoir jamais parlé des personnes disparues pendant la dictature argentine (1976-1983), malgré l’avénement de la démocratie dans ce pays il y a trente ans.

La présidente Cristina Kirchner a salué froidement l’élection du pape. Mais sur les réseaux sociaux, les partisans des Kirchner ont durement critiqué le choix de l’archevêque de Buenos Aires, qui entretenait des rapports tendus avec les gouvernements péronistes du président Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007) et aujourd’hui celui de son épouse Cristina. Il avait coutume de centrer ses homélies sur des thèmes brûlants, des inégalités sociales jusqu’à la traite de personnes, en passant par la corruption.

Voir également:

Starting a Papacy, Amid Echoes of a ‘Dirty War’

Simon Romero and William Neuman

The New York Times

March 17, 2013

BUENOS AIRES — One Argentine priest is on trial in Tucumán Province on charges of working closely with torturers in a secret jail during the so-called Dirty War, urging prisoners to hand over information. Another priest was accused of taking a newborn from his mother, one of the many baby thefts from female prisoners who were “disappeared” into a system of clandestine prisons.

Another clergy member offered biblical justification for the military’s death flights, according to an account by one of the pilots anguished about dumping drugged prisoners out of aircraft and into the sea.

As he starts his papacy, Francis, until this month Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, faces his own entanglement with the Dirty War, which unfolded from 1976 to 1983. As the leader of Argentina’s Jesuits for part of that time, he has repeatedly had to dispute claims that he allowed the kidnapping of two priests in his order in 1976, accusations the Vatican is calling a defamation campaign.

Now his election as pope is focusing scrutiny on his role as the most prominent leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Argentina, an institution that remains under withering criticism for its role in failing to publicly resist — and in various instances actively supporting — the military dictatorship during a period when as many as 30,000 people are thought to have been killed or disappeared.

This stance by Argentina’s church stands in contrast to the resistance against dictatorships by Catholic leaders elsewhere in Latin America at the time — notably in Chile and Brazil, two nations where far fewer people were killed. Even as the head of the Argentine Conference of Bishops from 2005 to 2011, Francis resisted issuing a formal apology for the church’s actions during the Dirty War, disappointing human rights campaigners.

“The combination of action and inaction by the church was instrumental in enabling the mass atrocities committed by the junta,” said Federico Finchelstein, an Argentine historian at the New School for Social Research in New York. “Those like Francis that remained in silence during the repression also played by default a central role,” he said. “It was this combination of endorsement and either strategic or willful indifference that created the proper conditions for the state killings.”

Francis, 76, has offered a complex description of his role during the dictatorship, a period officially called the Process of National Reorganization, in which the authorities installed a terrifying campaign against perceived opponents.

While refraining from public criticism of the dictatorship, Francis said in his autobiography that he pressed military officials behind the scenes to free the two priests from his order — Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics — even meeting with top military officials.

Francis also said that he hid at a Jesuit school several people persecuted by the dictatorship, and even helped one young man who resembled him to flee Argentina, via Foz do Iguaçu on the Brazilian border, giving him priest’s garb and his own identity documents.

The Rev. Ignacio Pérez del Viso, a Jesuit who is a longtime friend of Francis’, said that a small number of Argentine bishops spoke out against the military dictatorship. But they were clearly in the minority, he said, and others in the Argentine church, including the new pope, who was 39 at the time of the 1976 coup, adopted a far more cautious position.

“When you saw that the majority of the bishops preferred to have a dialogue with the military,” Father Pérez del Viso, 78, said, “it’s not easy to say, ‘We will do something different.’ ” He added: “Many of the bishops opted, rather than to confront the military head on, to try to intercede in private conversations for those they could save.”

“Later the bishops realized this was a mistake,” Father Pérez del Viso said. “But to see the mistake at that moment was difficult.”

Religious scholars attribute such passivity to remarkably close ideological and political links between the church and the armed forces. Some priests have even been forced to stand trial on charges of human rights abuses.

After a previous military coup in Argentina in 1930, the church forged a role as a spiritual guide for the armed forces. By the time military rule was established again in the 1970s, their operations overlapped to the point where some bishops were provided soldiers as personal servants in their palaces, and only a handful of bishops publicly condemned the dictatorship’s repression.

“Of all the national churches in Latin America, Argentina is where ties were closest between the clergy and the military,” said Kenneth P. Serbin, a historian at the University of San Diego.

This legacy presents a challenge to Francis. Last week, a judge who took part in an investigation into a clandestine prison at the Naval Mechanics School said the inquiry uncovered no evidence that Francis was involved in the kidnapping of the Jesuits. “It is totally false to say that Jorge Bergoglio handed over those priests,” the judge, Germán Castelli, was quoted as saying in the newspaper La Nación.

But doubts persist, based on the priests’ own accounts, including a 1977 report by Father Yorio to the Jesuit authorities, obtained by The New York Times, and a 1994 book by Father Jalics.

Father Yorio wrote that Francis, who was then the top Jesuit in Argentina, told them he supported their work even as he sought to undermine it, making negative reports about them to local bishops and claiming they were in the slum without his permission.

“He did nothing to defend us, and we began to question his honesty,” wrote Father Yorio, who died in 2000. Finally, without telling the two priests, Father Yorio wrote, Francis expelled them from the Jesuit order.

Three days later, hundreds of armed men descended on the slum and seized the two priests. Father Yorio was interrogated and accused of being a guerrilla. The priests were kept for five months, chained hand and foot and blindfolded, fearing they would be killed.

Finally, they were dropped off in a drugged state on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

In a statement posted on a Jesuit Web site last week, Father Jalics said he would not comment “on the role of Father Bergoglio in these events.” He said that years after the kidnapping, they celebrated a Mass together and he solemnly embraced him. “I am reconciled to the events and view them from my side as concluded,” Father Jalics wrote.

But in an interview, Father Yorio’s sister, Graciela Yorio, accused Francis of leaving the priests “totally unprotected” and making them an easy target for the military. She said that her brother and Father Jalics, whom she referred to using his name in Spanish, were in agreement about Francis’ role. “My brother was certain,” she said, “And Francisco, too, Francisco Jalics. I have no reason not to believe my brother’s word.”

Still, several prominent leftists here have defended Francis, emphasizing his openness to dialogue and austere habits. “He is questioned for not having done all he could do,” said Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, a pacifist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. “But he was never an ally of the dictatorship.”

Though Francis has had to respond to doubts about his own past during the Dirty War, he has faced other issues that still haunt the church. He was head of Argentina’s bishops’ conference in 2007, when the Rev. Christian von Wernich, a former police chaplain, was found guilty of complicity in the killing and torture of political prisoners.

Even after his conviction, Father von Wernich was allowed to offer Mass to fellow prison inmates. Other priests have similarly faced charges related to abuses from the dictatorship era. And still there are other priests who have not been charged with a crime, but who face serious accusations about their connection to the armed forces.

The church has tried to account on different occasions for its actions during the dictatorship. In 2000, it apologized for its “silences” that enabled rights abuses. And last November, after the future pope’s tenure as head of the bishops’ conference had ended, the church issued another statement in response to the assertion by Jorge Videla, the former head of the military junta, that Argentine bishops had in effect collaborated with the dictatorship.

The church rejected Mr. Videla’s claim, but said it would “promote a more complete study” of the Dirty War years.

Reporting was contributed by Fabián Werner, Emily Schmall and Jonathan Gilbert from Buenos Aires; Mauricio Rabuffetti from Montevideo, Uruguay; and Nicholas Kulish from Berlin.

Voir encore:

New pope’s role during Argentina’s military era disputed

Accusers draw ties between Catholic church and 70s junta, saying Jorge Bergoglio failed to shield two priests

Jonathan Watts and Uki Goni in Buenos Aires

The Guardian

15 March 2013

JorgeBergoglio

A young Jorge Mario Bergoglio pictured in Buenos Aires. Photograph: Argenpress/Rex Features

Pope Francis is known in his native Argentina as a man of austere habits, long pregnant pauses in conversation and a reticence about discussing himself. For supporters, this is proof of his humility, which was further underlined for them in his first address as pope to the masses in St Peter’s Square, where he eschewed the usual jewelled crucifix in favour of a simple wooden cross.

For critics, however – and there are many in his home country – it may have more to do with allegations that he and the Roman Catholic church were guilty of the sin of omission – and perhaps worse – during the brutal military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983.

Those dark years cast the longest shadow over the elevation of Jorge Bergoglio, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, as the new Vicar of Christ, and continues to divide a nation.

While Argentina rang with celebratory church bells at the news of the first Latin American pope, some were seized by doubt and confusion. « I can’t believe it, I don’t know what to do, I’m in so much anguish and so enraged, » wrote Graciela Yorio in an email published in the Argentine press on Thursday morning.

In 1976, her brother, Orlando Yorio, along with another Jesuit priest, Francisco Jalics, were seized by navy troops in the slums of Buenos Aires and held and tortured for five months at the ESMA camp, a navy base in the capital where 5,000 people were murdered by the military junta.

The two priests served under Bergoglio, who is accused in some quarters of abandoning them to the military after they became involved in leftist social movements.

His chief accuser is journalist Horacio Verbitsky, whose book El Silencio paints a disquieting picture of Bergoglio’s relationship with the priests who sought his protection when they felt their lives were in danger from the military because of their social work in the slums.

Verbitsky believes the then chief of the Jesuits in Argentina played a double game, aiding Yorio and Jalics while expressing concern about their activities to military officers.

But Verbitsky’s views are seen as overly simplistic by other observers of that era. « Verbitsky is not wrong, but he doesn’t understand the complexity of Bergoglio’s position back then when things were so dangerous, » said Robert Cox, a British journalist and former editor of the Buenos Aires Herald, the only newspaper in Argentina that reported the murders as they happened. « He can’t see how difficult it was to operate under those circumstances. »

But Cox, who moved to North Carolina after death threats against his family in 1979, suggests Bergoglio could have done more. « I don’t think he gave them in, » he said. « But Bergoglio didn’t protect them, he didn’t speak out. »

Adolfo Perez Esquivel, who won the 1980 Nobel peace prize for documenting the junta’s atrocities, takes a similar view. « Perhaps he didn’t have the courage of other priests, but he never collaborated with the dictatorship, » he told the Associated Press. « Bergoglio was no accomplice of the dictatorship. He can’t be accused of that. » The vast majority of Argentinians view the dictatorship era as appalling.

Others suggest that Bergoglio was actually a hero. Francesca Ambrogetti, co-author of The Jesuit – a flattering biography of the new pope – says Bergoglio told her he met the dictator Jose Rafael Videla and Eduardo Massera, the head of the navy which was in charge of some concentration camps, to try and intercede on behalf of the priests.

She said he took great risks to save others. « I believe he did all he could at that time, » she said. « It’s a complex issue that is very difficult to explain after so many years. »

In a 2005 interview Bergoglio himself said he moved fast to save their lives. « That same night when I heard of the kidnappings I started to move. In one of my attempts to meet Videla I found out who the military chaplain was who gave mass to Videla and convinced that priest to call in sick and I managed to be named to replace him. »

Bergoglio said that after the mass he managed to speak to Videla about the case, which would not have been an easy task at the time, given the climate of fear that reigned over these issues in Argentina then.

That era continues to polarise Argentina, where the current left-leaning government has reopened several prominent cases in the past decade. Details are murky. Few from that era can escape with entirely clear consciences. Many turned a blind eye and kept silent. Accusations of this sin of omission have been levelled at Bergoglio.

Myriam Bregman, an Argentine lawyer in the continuing trials of crimes at the ESMA death camp, says Bergoglio’s appointment to the papacy left her confused. « It gave me a feeling of amazement and impotence, » said Bregman, who took Bergoglio’s declaration regarding Jalics and Yorio in 2010.

« Bergoglio refused to come [and] testify in court, » she recalled, making use of Argentine legislation that permits ministers of the church to choose where to declare.

« He finally accepted to see us in an office alongside Buenos Aires cathedral sitting underneath a tapestry of the Virgin Mary. It was an intimidating experience, we were very uncomfortable intruding in a religious building. »

Bregman says that Bergoglio did not provide any significant information on the two priests. « He seemed reticent, I left with a bitter taste, » she said.

Estela de la Cuadra’s mother co-founded the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo activist group during the dictatorship to search for missing family members. She was at first astonished, then appalled when a friend texted the news that Bergoglio had been chosen as the new pope.

« It is unthinkable, horrifying given what I know about his history, » she said, recalling the disappearance of her sister.

The last time they saw each other was in January 1977 when they were members of leftwing groups formed among the students at La Plata University, then one of the most radical in Argentina.

Her sister, Elena, was three months pregnant and in hiding in Buenos Aires from military snatch squads that had already seized her husband. She « disappeared » a month later and was later seen by survivors in a concentration camp run by the navy.

Desperate, the family used a connection with the global head of the Jesuit order – the « black pope », Pedro Arrupe – to lobby for her release. He put them on to Bergoglio, who provided a letter of introduction to a bishop with connections to the military dictator.

The only answer that came back, said Estela, was that her sister’s baby was now « in the hands of a good family. It was irreversible. » Neither mother nor child were heard from again.

For Estela, Bergoglio did the bare minimum he had to do to keep in line with the black pope. She says the story underlines the close connections between the Catholic church and the military junta, as well as what she sees as lies and hypocrisy of a new pope who once claimed to have no knowledge of the adoptions of babies being born in concentration camps and then adopted by families close to the regime.

« I’ve testified in court that Bergoglio knew everything, that he wasn’t – despite what he says – uninvolved, » said Estela, who believes the church worked with the military to gather intelligence on the families of the missing.

She is also furious that Bergoglio refused to defrock another priest, Christian von Wernich, who was jailed for life in 2007 for seven killings, 42 abductions and 34 cases of torture, in which he told victims: « God wants to know where your friends are. »

She is now requesting classified documents from the episcopal and Vatican archives, which would shed more light on the issues.

That is unlikely to be approved in Rome, though it would – until Wednesday at least – have probably gone down well in the government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

The Argentine president is a staunch advocate of taking to court not only military officers responsible for the killing of thousands of young activists, but also civilians who may have played a role back then.

Fernández has an icy relationship with Bergoglio – who is seen as a conservative – and has studiously avoided him over the last years, moving out of the city every 25 May when Bergoglio gave his annual mass at Buenos Aires Cathedral.

As he has shown by rising through the ranks of the church Bergoglio is an extremely astute politician, who uses the sparseness of words and space to press home his considerable influence on government and legislature.

« He is a participant in Argentine politics, but in his own way – very low profile. More politicians pass through his office than either the opposition or the government would care to admit, » said Washington Uranga, social science professor at the University of Buenos Aires.

« People go in search of coverage, to ask him to use his influence. In other cases, he calls on them to come, but it is always in his territory. It’s always in his office. »

When Bergoglio does occasionally speak out in public, it tends to be with allusions rather than direct references to Argentina’s darkest era. When trials reopened in 2006, he suggested it was not a good idea to churn up the problems of the past, although this was seen as a comment on the rise in the number of trials.

« We are happy to reject anger and endless conflict, because we don’t believe in chaos and disorder … Wretched are those who are vindictive and spiteful, » he said in a public sermon.

Additional reporting by Sebastián Lacunza

Voir aussi:

The sins of the Argentinian church

The Catholic church was complicit in dreadful crimes in Argentina. Now it has a chance to repent

Hugh O’Shaughnessy

The Guardian

4 January 2011

Benedict XVI gave us words of great comfort and encouragement in the message he delivered on Christmas Eve.

« God anticipates us again and again in unexpected ways, » the pope said. « He does not cease to search for us, to raise us up as often as we might need. He does not abandon the lost sheep in the wilderness into which it had strayed. God does not allow himself to be confounded by our sin. Again and again he begins afresh with us ».

If these words comforted and encouraged me they will surely have done the same for leaders of the church in Argentina, among many others. To the judicious and fair-minded outsider it has been clear for years that the upper reaches of the Argentinian church contained many « lost sheep in the wilderness », men who had communed and supported the unspeakably brutal western-supported military dictatorship that seized power in that country in 1976 and battened on it for years. Not only did the generals slaughter thousands unjustly, often dropping them out of aeroplanes over the River Plate and selling off their orphan children to the highest bidder, they also murdered at least two bishops and many priests. Yet even the execution of other men of the cloth did nothing to shake the support of senior clerics, including representatives of the Holy See, for the criminality of their leader General Jorge Rafael Videla and his minions.

As it happens, in the week before Christmas in the city of Córdoba Videla and some of his military and police cohorts were convicted by their country’s courts of the murder of 31 people between April and October 1976, a small fraction of the killings they were responsible for. The convictions brought life sentences for some of the military. These were not to be served, as has often been the case in Argentina and neighbouring Chile, in comfy armed forces retirement homes but in common prisons. Unsurprisingly there was dancing in the city’s streets when the judge announced the sentences.

What one did not hear from any senior member of the Argentinian hierarchy was any expression of regret for the church’s collaboration and in these crimes. The extent of the church’s complicity in the dark deeds was excellently set out by Horacio Verbitsky, one of Argentina’s most notable journalists, in his book El Silencio (Silence). He recounts how the Argentinian navy hid from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission the dictatorship’s political prisoners on an island linked to senior clerics.

One would have thought that the Argentinian bishops would have seized the opportunity to call for pardon for themselves and put on sackcloth and ashes as the sentences were announced in Córdoba but that has not so far happened.

But happily Their Eminences have just been given another chance to express contrition. Next month the convicted murderer Videla will be arraigned for his part in the killing of Enrique Angelelli, bishop of the Andean diocese of La Rioja and a supporter of the cause of poorer Argentinians. He was run off the highway by a hit squad of the Videla régime and killed on 4th August 1976 shortly after Videla’s putsch.

• This article was amended on 14 March 2013. The original article, published in 2011, wrongly suggested that Argentinian journalist Horacio Verbitsky claimed that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio connived with the Argentinian navy to hide political prisoners on an island called El Silencio during an inspection by human rights monitors. Although Verbitsky makes other allegations about Bergoglio’s complicity in human rights abuses, he does not make this claim. The original article also wrongly described El Silencio as Bergoglio’s « holiday home ». This has been corrected.

Voir par ailleurs:

Is Celibacy a Sin? The NYT Has a View

Walter Russell Mead
The Americain interest
March 3, 2013

Over at the New York Times where hostility to all things Roman Catholic is a longstanding tradition, Frank Bruni has mixed a unique cocktail of one part sharp observation, two parts confusion about Christian teaching, a dash of schadenfreude and splash of scandal. It is, in other words, business as usual at the newspaper of record, where passionate disagreement verging into bitter resentment at the sexual teachings of the Catholic Church (that homosexuals can’t marry, heterosexuals can’t divorce, and that abortion is the willful destruction of innocent human life) is almost as widespread as hatred of the KKK.

(I say almost, noting Ross Douthat’s piece this morning. Maureen Dowd, however, proudly upholds the paper’s traditional foam-flecked hatred of Rome, with the difference that loathing and contempt for Catholic ideas is expressed in our more democratic era by the Catholic or ex-Catholic children of Eire rather than toffee nosed WASPs. In the old days, hatred of Rome was a bond in New York journalistic and intellectual circles between nativist Protestants and aspiring Jewish intellectuals remembering centuries of Catholic persecution. These days everybody is in on the Church-hating.)

For those looking to cast stones at the Vatican there is no shortage of ammunition at hand, and Bruni’s piece, entitled “The Wages of Celibacy,” gives us a full measure of Catholic woe: tortured, self-rejecting gay priests and maybe cardinals and archbishops, ‘elite’ rings of transsexual prostitutes, hints of Vatican blackmail, pedophilia and tragic isolation. (Dowd takes it closer to the bone in a column dripping with juicy innuendoes about the Pope Emeritus’ relationship with his private secretary.)

All these troubles, Bruni maintains, spring from priestly celibacy and homosexual repression. Bruni’s core message is that celibacy is a “trap,” a bad idea all round:

No matter what a person’s sexual orientation, the celibate culture runs the risk of stunting its development and turning sexual impulses into furtive, tortured gestures. It downplays a fundamental and maybe irresistible human connection. Is it any wonder that some priests try to make that connection nonetheless, in surreptitious, imprudent and occasionally destructive ways?

Now I’m no Roman Catholic and my father is a happily married Episcopal priest; after 61 plus years of marriage my parents have four children, seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and over the decades their home has been a warm and welcoming place, a visible sign of God’s love for friends, family and strangers alike. It’s not for me to advise a religious body to which I don’t belong how to manage its affairs, but if I were designing a new Church of St. Mead from the ground up, I’d have no problem with married priests.

There are good arguments against a celibate priesthood, even in the special context of Roman Catholic doctrine about the nature and function of priests. It’s not, however, clear that these arguments are as strong as Bruni and many others assume. The last time I looked, college football coaches, BBC celebrities, public school teachers and scout leaders weren’t required to be celibate, but we’ve seen high profile sexual scandals in these fields—complete with coverups. Horatio Alger was a Unitarian minister when he was fired for “unnatural familiarity” with boys, and there have been some recent high profile cases of married Jewish and Protestant religious leaders involved in inappropriate sex with young people.

Human sexuality is tricky ground; many married people have from time to time resorted to exactly the kind of “furtive, tortured gestures” that Bruni thinks characterize celibacy. Few of us live up to our own sexual ideals or standards; gay or straight, single or married, drunk or sober, large numbers of human beings look back on certain incidents with sadness and regret. Not even Maureen Dowd can believe that America’s burgeoning porn industry survives on the patronage of furtive and twisted celibates alone. Celibacy, like monogamy, is a sexual ideal. Not many people live up to either ideal fully, and many fall sadly, woefully, and even horrifically short of the standards their own consciences declare.

But ideals, even unattainable ones, are often there for a reason. The Christian ideal of celibacy wasn’t invented by the Catholic hierarchy and didn’t originate as a tool to capture and repress homosexual men. Nor was it rooted in either Jewish or Roman antiquity. Caesar Augustus passed laws to penalize bachelors, and while Rome had its Vestal Virgins, they had no male counterparts. While ancient Greek culture celebrated many forms of what we today would call pedophilia, it strongly condemned adult men who engaged in passive homosexual intercourse and placed strong social pressure on men to marry women even as they continued to accost high school age boys. The closest thing to the Christian ideal of celibacy was found among some Middle Eastern cults and mystery religions, but the voluntary castration among some devotees of these cults never really caught on among the followers of Christ (Origen excepted).

The Christian ideal of celibacy comes straight from the source: Jesus, despite repeated attempts by later writers to whomp up romances with everyone from Mary Magdalene to St. John the Divine, never married. (I’m waiting for the Maureen Dowd column on Jesus the pedophile: What can we expect from a man who hung around playgrounds saying “Suffer the little children to come unto me?” Sounds pretty suspicious and, of course, he was celibate.)

Jesus’ example got a powerful boost and some theological buttressing from the life and writings of Christianity’s greatest early leader and thinker, St. Paul. So far as we know, Paul never married in the years before his conversion; certainly, he remained single during his life as the first Christian missionary.

Neither Jesus nor Paul demanded celibacy of their followers. We know that St. Peter had a mother-in-law and St. Paul said that bishops should have no more than one wife. If Jesus ever said anything about his decision to remain unmarried, the Gospels don’t report it, and his recorded teaching on marriage is largely confined to an absolute prohibition on divorce. But Paul was more forthcoming. In his first letter to the Christian community in the Greek city of Corinth, the apostle wrote that while ideally both women and men should remain unmarried, not everybody had the ability. For those who could not, ahem, contain themselves in the single life, he wrote, there was a less demanding if perhaps less noble course. “It is better to marry than to burn.

The examples of Jesus and Paul’s celibacy have resonated since the early centuries of Christian life, but choosing the celibate life was also often mixed up with pragmatic considerations. Centuries of persecution reinforced the idea that the leaders of the Christian community, bishops and priests for whom martyrdom was in the job description, should avoid earthly entanglements. One can sympathize with their point of view. It is bad enough being fed to the lions without worrying about the hungry family you are leaving behind.

When the persecutions ended with the conversion of the Emperor Constantine, Christians had a new reason to want celibate bishops and priests. The Church became one of the wealthiest institutions in the Empire, and its officials controlled great resources and had immense political power. That power only grew when the Empire fell and feudalism appeared. In an era of weak states and institutions, powerful families constantly sought to appropriate ‘common’ property; much like oligarchs pillaging state property after the fall of the Soviet Union, people sought to ‘privatize’ both church and state property when opportunities rose.

Without celibacy, clerical dynasties would surely have emerged, and lucrative offices would almost inevitably become hereditary. Even humble parish priests would try to ensure that their sons followed them in their calling and, in a period of weak institutions and little central authority, the positions and the possessions of the Church were all too likely to fall under private control. Celibacy ensured that priests had no children, or that, if they did (and there have never been many illusions in the Church about the weakness of the flesh and the powers of temptation), those children would at least be illegitimate and unable to claim a right of succession.

Even with celibacy, life in the Church got pretty corrupt. Clerics high and low struggled to make careers for their illegitimate children or their nephews (the word ‘nepotism’ comes from the Latin word for nephew); powerful families intrigued to control the more lucrative posts. But while the ban on clerical marriage didn’t necessarily make the clergy more moral, it helped assure the independence of the Church and kept its property and offices from falling completely and irrevocably into the hands of church dynasties. From this point of view the discipline of celibacy was less a means to sanctify priests than to protect the institutional integrity of the Church.

In the West today these dangers have receded, but in much of the world they remain real. Many African and Asian believers remain very poor, and priests would face overwhelming temptations to, for example, ensure that their own kids received whatever educational opportunities were on offer. A wealthy and well connected archbishop in a non-democratic developing country would have powerful reasons to make sure his kids were plugged into the power system—and also have powerful reasons to keep his mouth shut about corruption and the abuses of human rights. Moral heroes might stand up against the pressure, but not every archbishop is going to be that kind of person. A perennial problem for Rome is that it must legislate for Catholics throughout the world; a system that allowed priests to marry in rich countries but demanded celibacy of priests from poor countries would not go over well.

Even so, there are real questions about requiring celibacy of all clergy. The priesthood is a less economically and socially attractive profession today, but in past centuries (and still in many poor countries) choosing a career in the Church was the only avenue for kids without wealthy parents to get a good education or a job that didn’t involve digging ditches. A hunger for education, a desire to see the wider world, and the hope of a brilliant career are not the same things as a religious vocation, much less a divine call to the single life, but the Church insisted on a package deal. Some young people honored the bargain, many found it beyond their power or were cynics from the start.

More recently, many women faced a similar choice. For poor girls in much of Europe and North America, entry into a religious order was their only way into professional life and their only chance for a college education. As Bruni and others note, the celibate priesthood also provided an honorable exit for another group: young homosexual men. If you told your mother that you weren’t getting married because you liked guys, you got one reaction. If you said God was calling you to the priesthood, you got something else. This doesn’t require conscious hypocrisy; sexual identity and spiritual yearning are both complicated things, and young people in the throes of adolescence jump to lots of conclusions.

It seems pretty clear that many people in religious orders and the priesthood didn’t have a true calling to the celibate life, and one reason that tens of thousands of people left the orders and the priesthood after Vatican II was that in a changing world they had other options. Young Catholic women, whatever their sexual orientation, and young Catholic gay men now have more choices, and the Church seems to be finding that while there are fewer young people entering orders and the priesthood, those who come are better suited to the calling.

I don’t know that it’s fair to blame all the resulting problems on either the Church or on celibacy. One can say that it was less than fair of the Church to offer education and careers to the poor, to women and to homosexuals with such difficult conditions attached—but then nobody else was offering them anything at all. Surely some of the blame has to fall on societies and cultures that consigned whole swathes of their population to ignorance and oppression, leaving the Church to deal with the results as best it could. Within the framework of its doctrinal structures and its institutional requirements, the Church opened a door of opportunity for people who the rest of the world rejected. Surely even the Rhadamanthine judges at the New York Times can give it a few points for trying?

But many critics of the Church, and, unless I am misreading him, Bruni is one of these, don’t just think that the Church has misused the discipline of celibacy. They want to say that celibacy doesn’t even make sense as a religious ideal. One doesn’t want to judge a person’s entire world view on the basis of a single newspaper column, but Bruni seems to make the argument that celibacy is an unnatural state that involves a crippling loss of human connection. As Auden once put it: “Envy warps the virgin as she dries.”

The critique is not new; the belief that the Catholic view of celibacy leads either to futile isolation or to sexual deviance and depravity or both was one of the core arguments that the Reformers made against the Church. Lurid ‘confessions’ of nuns allegedly seduced by priests and darker rumors were widely disseminated during and after the wars of religion. As late as the 1830s a Protestant mob in Boston burned an Ursuline convent after reports of wicked goings on got into the press.

In Victorian times Protestants frequently contrasted what they saw as the healthy, masculine and extroverted nature of the Protestant clergy and its spirituality and the ‘diseased’, ‘feminine’ and introverted qualities they claimed to see among Catholics. Homophobia and anti-Catholicism ran together in 19th century England, and the Protestant cult of ‘muscular Christianity’ claiming that Jesus was an extroverted jock rather than a sensitive momma’s boy was particularly popular among the headmasters of boys’ boarding schools. In the minds of people like Charles Kingsley, tutor of the Prince of Wales, chaplain to Queen Victoria and the man whose attack prompted Cardinal Newman to write his great autobiography, suspiciously celibate Catholic priests with their crafty ways, lace gowns and aversion to marriage were exactly the sort of person one kept away from the vulnerable young.

Today the attack on celibacy, at least in elite circles, cannot base itself on overt homophobia any longer, although it was not all that long ago that the New York Times led the charge against gays and their wicked agenda. Where the Victorians attacked the celibate priesthood because they believed it sheltered homosexual men and gave them social position and power they could never otherwise have, our contemporaries attack priestly celibacy because it warps homosexual men, steeping them in self-hatred, twisting their desires, and forcing the natural healthy channel of their sexuality into at best sordid and furtive affairs and at worst leading otherwise normal gay men into the horrors of pedophilia.

Charles Kingsley would have interpreted the current avalanche of stories about pedophile priests and the rumors of gay sex rings in the Vatican as clear proof that Catholicism was rotten to the core and that a hierarchical culture resting on priestly celibacy was a big part of the problem. That is not as far from the Bruni position as either Kingsley or Bruni would like, but where Kingsley saw celibacy as tailor-made cover for insidious homosexuals and sexual predators, Bruni sees it as an instrument of homophobia and sexual repression.

From my wretchedly Anglican standpoint, I can only say that the problem seems less about celibacy as a sexual ideal than about the attempt, intrinsic to Catholicism, to embody the ideal Kingdom of God in a human institution. Priests, nuns, bishops and monks are not going to be perfect. They are going to abuse their power; they are going to misread the will of God even on those occasions when they summon up the fortitude to try to follow it. Catholics believe that even so the purposes of God are being worked out through the visible Church on earth, and that the institution, however weighed down with crooked bankers, bent priests, conniving bishops and hypocritical pedophiles really is the primary channel of grace into this fallen world, and the place par excellence where God’s perfect love meets human failure.

That Catholic approach to the institutionalization of the ineffable has led to great triumphs of the human spirit and nourished extraordinary saints down through the ages, but there is a darker side too. The attempt to bond a high and difficult sexual ideal to the routine business of running a global institution is bound to create some big problems; I wish the next pope every success in managing this great institution in tumultuous times, but I don’t have a lot of advice to offer.

There is a final point to make. It’s striking that Bruni’s discussion of celibacy omits any possible benefits that might flow from this way of life. Proponents of celibacy have often spoken of a closer union with God as both the motive and the consequence of their choice. Pastor Rick Warren tells the story of the bride who insisted that as she came down the aisle to meet her future husband the choir sing the old hymn “I’d Rather Have Jesus.” For millions of Catholic and Orthodox monks, priests and nuns down through the centuries, that was a choice that they consciously made. They felt called to sacrifice earthly ties to deepen their relationship with God and to focus exclusively on serving him rather than tending families on earth.

Bruni doesn’t even think this idea is worth discussing; as far as I can tell, there are no ‘brides of Christ’ in his world view, only delusional and embittered old maids.  The argument boils down to this: since human beings can’t be satisfied or fulfilled by relationships with God, celibacy has no point. It subtracts but it does not add. The celibate priest or nun is running away from normal human life and running toward… nothing.

Bruni is of course entitled to his opinion, and it’s one that many great scholars and philosophers have held. God either doesn’t exist or is so much in the background of things that he might as well not be there at all. Satisfaction is to be sought in the here and now; this life on earth offers all we need and in any case is all we have. Forget all this talk of mystical unions with Christ, forget the ecstasies of the saints, the Beatific Vision, the dream of fulfilling your life by picking up your cross and following Christ as closely as you can. Find an age-appropriate spouse of whatever gender works for you, and lead the rich and satisfying life of an upper middle class professional who enjoys the newspaper of record, and try not to think about old age, death, or anything else that suggests that the natural order is either incomplete or flawed.

This is a perfectly coherent point of view, but it is not very rational to suggest it to the Catholic Church. Bruni’s argument against celibacy is predicated on the disappearance of God; he is giving the Church advice on how to organize its affairs in the absence of Christ.

If Bruni is right, we shouldn’t just get rid of priestly celibacy. We should get rid of priests. We should turn our churches into art museums. Perhaps a few should stay open for the old people and the poor people and the semi-literate immigrants still bitterly clinging to their missals and their rosaries, but the Catholic Church is of value only insofar as it adds texture and color to the wonderful pageant of civilized modern life.

A lot of modern and progressive thinking people think this way in America and beyond; it’s a safe bet that the new pope, whoever he is, won’t agree.

Voir aussi:

LE CASTRISTE HUGO CHAVEZ A FINANCE SECRETEMENT LA CAMPAGNE EN 2007 DE LA PRESIDENTE ARGENTINE AVEC 6 MILLIONS $

Auteur jacquesthomet

25 septembre 2008

Un document tendant à le prouver a été présenté jeudi par l’homme d’affaires américano-vénézuélien Guido Antonini Wilson, cité comme témoin à Miami dans le procès sur le transfert illégal de 800.000 dollars du Venezuela vers l’Argentine.

Guido Antonini Wilson avait été intercepté le 4 août 2007 par la douane argentine en provenance de Caracas, avec une mallette contenant 800.000 dollars.

Selon l’accusation, il s’agissait d’argent destiné à la campagne présidentielle de la candidate Cristina Kirchner, qui a ensuite remporté les élections en octobre 2007. Mme Kirchner a nié avoir reçu des fonds provenant du Venezuela.

Guido Antonini Wilson est un témoin clé dans ce procès de trois Vénézuéliens et un Uruguayen –Moises Maionica, Franklin Duran, Carlos Kauffmann, Rodolfo Edgardo Wanseele Paciello– que les Etats-Unis soupçonnent d’avoir agi en tant qu’agents du Venezuela à Miami. Ils sont accusés d’avoir fait pression sur M. Antonini Wilson, qui avait introduit des fonds non déclarés en Argentine en août 2007, pour cacher la provenance et la destination de cet argent. Antonini Wilson a présenté un document, que lui avait remis Franklin Durán, dans lequel ce dernier détaillait les points importants concernant le supposé transfert de fonds.

« D’où vient l’argent: PDVSA (la compagnie pétrolière publique du Venezuela). A qui est-il destiné: à la campagne (de Cristina Kirchner) (…) deux mallettes (…) 6 millions de dollars… », indique notamment le document.

L’homme d’affaires américano-vénézuelien a affirmé avoir rencontré dans un hôtel le vice-président pour l’Argentine de PDVSA, Diego Uzcategui, peu de temps après avoir été appréhendé. « L’argent venait de PDVSA, ce n’était pas le mien », a-t-il expliqué. « J’ai demandé (à M. Uzcategui) pourquoi il m’avait placé dans une telle situation, et il m’a répondu: +où est le reste de l’argent ?+ Je lui ai dit: +De quoi est-ce que tu me parles ?+ Et il m’a dit: +Il y avait une autre valise avec 4,2 millions+ », avait-t-il raconté devant la cour.

M. Antonini Wilson a aussi révélé mercredi s’être entretenu à deux reprises au téléphone avec le chef des renseignements du Venezuela, Henry Rangel Silva, qui tentait de le convaincre d’occulter le scandale.

Voir enfin:

Malaysia’s U.S. Propaganda

Kuala Lumpur paid American conservative journalists to smear an opposition leader.

The WSJ

March 8, 2013

A general election is expected next month in the Southeast Asian nation of Malaysia, and that usually means political shenanigans—abuse of national security laws, media manipulation and character assassination. After the last election in 2008, when the ruling coalition barely held on to power, public anger at such practices prompted Prime Minister Najib Razak to redraft laws and reform the electoral system. However, new revelations that his government paid American journalists to attack opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim raise questions whether those changes went far enough.

In January, conservative American blogger Joshua Treviño belatedly registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, revealing that from 2008-2011 he was paid $389,724.70, as well as a free trip to Malaysia, to provide « public relations and media consultancy » services to the Malaysian government.

These consisted of writing for a website called Malaysia Matters, now defunct, as well as channeling $130,950 to other conservative writers who wrote pro-government pieces for other newspapers and websites. When questioned in 2011 by the Politico website about whether Malaysian interests funded his activities, Mr. Treviño flatly denied it: « I was never on any ‘Malaysian entity’s payroll,’ and I resent your assumption that I was. »

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim

The campaign was more targeted than the Malaysian ruling coalition’s domestic attacks on Mr. Anwar. Mr. Treviño’s site mainly went after the opposition leader for anti-Semitic remarks and his alliance with the Islamist party PAS, and even accused him of links to terrorists through the International Institute of Islamic Thought. Mr. Anwar has made anti-Semitic comments—though that’s in part to fend off domestic accusations that he’s too cozy with Zionists. He also has ties to organizations that have taken Saudi money, but the suggestion that he somehow has « ties to terrorism » is preposterous.

The site also defended an outrageous charge of sodomy brought against Mr. Anwar from 2008- 2012, and it criticized the U.S. State Department and The Wall Street Journal for taking Mr. Anwar’s side. These postings were clearly aimed at sowing doubt among other would-be Anwar defenders in the U.S., especially on the right of the U.S. political spectrum.

Mr. Treviño paid other writers who know almost nothing about Malaysia but mimicked his propaganda. The New Ledger, edited by Ben Domenech, was even more vociferous, calling Mr. Anwar a « vile anti-Semite and cowardly woman-abuser. » One posting was entitled, « Muslim Brotherhood’s terrorist money flowing to Anwar Ibrahim. » According to Mr. Treviño’s filing, he paid Mr. Domenech $36,000 for « opinion writing. » Three contributors of anti-Anwar items to the New Ledger—Rachel Motte, Christopher Badeaux and Brad Jackson—were paid $9,500, $11,000 and $24,700 respectively.

Mr. Treviño was initially paid by public relations multinational APCO Worldwide, which had a longstanding contract with the Malaysian government. APCO’s Kuala Lumpur representative through 2010, Paul Stadlen, now works in Prime Minister Najib’s office. David All, who at the time ran his own PR firm and collaborated on Malaysia Matters, also provided cash.

But from 2009-11, the Malaysian money came through Fact-Based Communications, which under the leadership of journalist John Defterios produced programs on client countries for CNN, CNBC and the BBC. After this was revealed in 2011, the three networks dropped all FBC programs, and Atlantic Media Company President Justin Smith resigned from its board.

Influence-peddling has a long and sordid history in Washington, and governments that use repressive methods at home yet want to remain on friendly terms with the U.S. typically have the biggest bankrolls. It’s not unheard of for PR operators to pay less reputable journalists and think- tankers to write favorable coverage, as the Jack Abramoff case in the mid-2000s showed.

The Malaysian scheme, however, is notable because it drew in respected writers such as Rachel Ehrenfeld, who has contributed to the Journal in the past and took $30,000, Claire Berlinski, who got $6,750, and Seth Mandel, an editor at Commentary magazine, who was paid $5,500. Some of the articles appeared in well-known publications such as National Review and the Washington Times.

Mr. Najib’s falling popularity at home suggests his days as Prime Minister could be numbered. The irony is that he was more democratic and played a more responsible role in the region than his predecessors. Even opposition figures have quietly admitted to us that he has steered Malaysia in the right direction. That should have been more than enough for a legitimate public relations operation to work with. Resorting to underhanded tactics to undermine the opposition has only backfired for Mr. Najib, at home and abroad.


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