Monday, September 19, 2005

C’est trés curieux

Taking time off from trying to co-ordinate the non-existent European response to the continuous Iranian upping of the nuclear ante, the French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy visited Israel earlier this month.

One assumes the visit was part of the recent rather gingerly Franco-Israeli rapprochement. However, things did not go quite according to plan. As Haaretz.com reports, the French satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaîné described a somewhat odd incident.

M Douste-Blazy was visiting the new Holocaust museum at Yad Vashem together with his entourage and was shown by the curator various maps of European sites where Jewish communities had been destroyed during the Second World War.

Suddenly, it occurred to M Douste-Blazy that there was one country missing. Were there no Jews deported from Britain, he wondered aloud, much to the embarrassment of his entourage, one of whom later confirmed the story, though on condition of strict anonymity.

Ahem, somebody pointed out to him, Britain had not been conquered during the World War II. Yes, yes, agreed M Douste-Blazy, but were there any Jews deported from England?

The French entourage found it embarrassing to hear that the Foreign Minister appeared ignorant of the basic facts of fairly recent history and one of them muttered something about General de Gaulle spending a good part of the war in Britain.

But, as a matter of fact, there is a kind of a logic in M Douste-Blazy’s curious questions. The truth is that Jews had been deported from Vichy France long before it was completely conquered by the Germans. Maybe the Foreign Minister thought that some similar arrangement had existed with Britain as well.

Or, of course, he may just be ignorant and stupid.

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