Terrorism: France just does not get itů

Even at the height of the crisis between France and the USA in March 2003, regarding the war in Iraq, the two countries were cooperating closely on terrorism issues. Today, in a somewhat warmer climate, France and the US are still sharing major intelligence information. But do we share the same definition for the word Terrorism?

 

Unfortunately, the answer is obviously no.

 

A few days ago, Jean Francois Cope, Spokesman of the French Government and Vice Interior Minister, addressed the American Jewish Committee's Annual Conference in Washington DC. I had the opportunity to interview him, along with Jean David Levitte, French Ambassador to the US. Our exchange was revealing of the huge gap between our two countries regarding terrorism.

 

During his speech on Global Terrorism, Mr. Cope's tone was forceful. But he did mention that only 'legal means' should be used to eradicate terrorism. You have to remember that until recently France was fighting tooth and nail to avoid putting Hamas on the list of terrorist organizations officially recognized as such by the European Union. France had maintained that Hamas was mostly a social organization. So, I started by asking him to comment about France's stance on Hamas, now that it is finally on the European Union's terrorist list, and what he meant by 'legal' in his speech?

 

Mr. Cope replied that they were monitoring the influence of Hamas in France. This struck me as a nice—sounding, but ultimately meaningless statement. To my knowledge, Hamas has no presence whatsoever in France, and operates so far mostly in Israel.

 

I then suggested the following hypothetical question: if Israel had kidnapped Sheikh Yassin, Hamas leader, instead of killing him, and had brought him to justice to the European Court, and then presented all the evidence of his terrorist activities, would it then have been legal? Mr. Cope emphatically replied 'NO'.

 

Apparently, then, putting Hamas on the EU's terrorists' list has had no real world consequence for France, when it comes to fighting the War on Terror. Nevertheless, France still drags its heels whenever possible. The EU was also debating whether or not to add the Lebanese Shia terrorist organization Hizbullah to that same terrorist list. But, (surprise!) France vetoed it.

 

First let's review Hizbullah's resume: before September 11, 2001, Hizbullah was the terror organization, which had killed the most Americans throughout the world. To assess Hizbullah's evil power, let's just quote Richard Armitage, then the US Deputy Secretary of State, who declared on September 5, 2002 that, ' Hizbullah may be the A—team of terrorists. While Al Qaeda may actually be the B—team.' 

 

Hizbullah's goals are clear and can be summed up through the words of its leader, Nasrallah, in March 2003:

 

'Death to America was, is and will stay our slogan.'

 

French President Chirac invited the speaker of these words, Nasrallah, to attend the Francophone Summit in Beirut in October 2002. When they met, Chirac said:

 

'Hizbullah is an important component of Lebanese society.'

 

Evidently, Chirac sees a major terrorist organization, whose goal is to destroy us, as a morally legitimate entity.

 

So returning to our interview, we asked when would France allow the EU to include Hizbullah on the terrorist list.

 

Mr. Levitte, the French Ambassador to the US, told me quite clearly that Hizbullah is mostly a 'social' organization, and that there is no reason whatsoever to put them on such a list. He added that they even have deputies in the Lebanese Assembly, and Lebanon is one of the freest nations in the Arab world.

 

To put things in perspective, if Hizbullah is a social organization, then Al Qaeda is a charity. And how can one say that Lebanon is a free country, when it has been occupied by Syria — with 20,000 Syrian soldiers — for more than a decade, and has a puppet government answering directly to President Assad of Syria?

 

It is simply mind—boggling that France could still believe what they are saying about terrorist organizations. The official position is to cling to a desperate fiction about the nature of the some of the fiercest terrorists on earth.

 

What would happen if France were attacked by a major terrorist operation? I think that they would pick the Spanish way and negotiate with the terrorists, as they did in the past during two waves of terrorist attacks in 1986 and 1995 in Paris.

 

So, until France agrees on defining terrorism as terrorism and as nothing else, their cooperation means little. If Hamas and Hizbullah are just mere social organizations in the eyes of the French, what chance do we have to ever include France in this War on Terror?

Even at the height of the crisis between France and the USA in March 2003, regarding the war in Iraq, the two countries were cooperating closely on terrorism issues. Today, in a somewhat warmer climate, France and the US are still sharing major intelligence information. But do we share the same definition for the word Terrorism?

 

Unfortunately, the answer is obviously no.

 

A few days ago, Jean Francois Cope, Spokesman of the French Government and Vice Interior Minister, addressed the American Jewish Committee's Annual Conference in Washington DC. I had the opportunity to interview him, along with Jean David Levitte, French Ambassador to the US. Our exchange was revealing of the huge gap between our two countries regarding terrorism.

 

During his speech on Global Terrorism, Mr. Cope's tone was forceful. But he did mention that only 'legal means' should be used to eradicate terrorism. You have to remember that until recently France was fighting tooth and nail to avoid putting Hamas on the list of terrorist organizations officially recognized as such by the European Union. France had maintained that Hamas was mostly a social organization. So, I started by asking him to comment about France's stance on Hamas, now that it is finally on the European Union's terrorist list, and what he meant by 'legal' in his speech?

 

Mr. Cope replied that they were monitoring the influence of Hamas in France. This struck me as a nice—sounding, but ultimately meaningless statement. To my knowledge, Hamas has no presence whatsoever in France, and operates so far mostly in Israel.

 

I then suggested the following hypothetical question: if Israel had kidnapped Sheikh Yassin, Hamas leader, instead of killing him, and had brought him to justice to the European Court, and then presented all the evidence of his terrorist activities, would it then have been legal? Mr. Cope emphatically replied 'NO'.

 

Apparently, then, putting Hamas on the EU's terrorists' list has had no real world consequence for France, when it comes to fighting the War on Terror. Nevertheless, France still drags its heels whenever possible. The EU was also debating whether or not to add the Lebanese Shia terrorist organization Hizbullah to that same terrorist list. But, (surprise!) France vetoed it.

 

First let's review Hizbullah's resume: before September 11, 2001, Hizbullah was the terror organization, which had killed the most Americans throughout the world. To assess Hizbullah's evil power, let's just quote Richard Armitage, then the US Deputy Secretary of State, who declared on September 5, 2002 that, ' Hizbullah may be the A—team of terrorists. While Al Qaeda may actually be the B—team.' 

 

Hizbullah's goals are clear and can be summed up through the words of its leader, Nasrallah, in March 2003:

 

'Death to America was, is and will stay our slogan.'

 

French President Chirac invited the speaker of these words, Nasrallah, to attend the Francophone Summit in Beirut in October 2002. When they met, Chirac said:

 

'Hizbullah is an important component of Lebanese society.'

 

Evidently, Chirac sees a major terrorist organization, whose goal is to destroy us, as a morally legitimate entity.

 

So returning to our interview, we asked when would France allow the EU to include Hizbullah on the terrorist list.

 

Mr. Levitte, the French Ambassador to the US, told me quite clearly that Hizbullah is mostly a 'social' organization, and that there is no reason whatsoever to put them on such a list. He added that they even have deputies in the Lebanese Assembly, and Lebanon is one of the freest nations in the Arab world.

 

To put things in perspective, if Hizbullah is a social organization, then Al Qaeda is a charity. And how can one say that Lebanon is a free country, when it has been occupied by Syria — with 20,000 Syrian soldiers — for more than a decade, and has a puppet government answering directly to President Assad of Syria?

 

It is simply mind—boggling that France could still believe what they are saying about terrorist organizations. The official position is to cling to a desperate fiction about the nature of the some of the fiercest terrorists on earth.

 

What would happen if France were attacked by a major terrorist operation? I think that they would pick the Spanish way and negotiate with the terrorists, as they did in the past during two waves of terrorist attacks in 1986 and 1995 in Paris.

 

So, until France agrees on defining terrorism as terrorism and as nothing else, their cooperation means little. If Hamas and Hizbullah are just mere social organizations in the eyes of the French, what chance do we have to ever include France in this War on Terror?