Just how Norman Lebrecht's whine, France turning its back on centuries of Jewish citizenship (Telegraph, London), ended up on the opinion pages of Tuesday's Sydney Morning Herald we'll never really know. Was there really such a dearth of insightful commentary on the terrorist outrages in Paris that it just had to do? Seriously?:
"Our patriarch was Grand Rabbin of the Lower Rhine, the first Jewish preacher to deliver sermons in French. When the Germans occupied Alsace-Lorraine in 1870, we moved to Paris. My ancestors were never going to live under any flag but the Tricolore..."
Norman's mob apparently weathered the Dreyfus Affair, World War I ("20 members of our family gave their lives for France"), the Nazified French media of the 30s, and the German occupation of World War II ("Uncle Rene went underground with the resistance"). Nothing, it seemed, could possibly come between the Lebrechts and the Republic, with its "celestial values: liberty, equality and fraternity."
Until now that is:
"The alienated populace in the outer suburbs, ignored by the Republic and exploited by radical preachers, contributed to Jewish unease. Some streets were no longer safe to walk in a skullcap. Anti-Semitic rhetoric was heard on the Right, on the Left, and from the banlieues. Murderous attacks on Jewish schools aroused no national outrage on the scale seen in the past week. So Jews fled in their thousands - many to London, where two new communities have sprung up in my own neighbourhood. Some 3300 left for Israel in 2013, rising to 5000 last year... "
Of course, to suggest that this Exodus may have had something to do with Israel's grinding genocide of the Palestinians would be anathema to the likes of Norman.
"My Jewish friends were out on the streets of Paris this weekend, hoping that, after this tragic moment, the tide will turn. For myself, I am unable to pretend that life will go on as before. My history, as a Jew of France, is over."
Now based on that cri de coeur, you'd be forgiven for thinking (absent those words about London) that Norman's Exodus from France was just about nigh, non?
In fact, Norman split for the UK long ago. As Wikipedia tells us: "Norman Lebrecht is a British commentator on music and cultural affairs and a novelist. He was a columnist for the Daily Telegraph from 1994 until 2002 and assistant editor of The Evening Standard from 2002 until 2009."
Sort of takes the wind out of the whine, non?
The real trouble with Norman's whine, however, is that he's said it all before. Long before.
Over at jewishcomment.com, for example, you'll find, under the heading Norman Lebrecht's warnings, the following editorial note from 2002:
"On 15 April, the London music critic Norman Lebrecht wrote a long and impassioned article in The Evening Standard newspaper suggesting that Britain is no longer a pleasant place for Jews. Observing that the UK's media and intellectual 'chattering classes' have made life a misery by constantly attacking Israel and organising vitriolic boycotts and demonstrations against the Jewish State, Lebrecht asserts that British Jews are fearful of a 1930s-style hatred not seen since the days of Oswald Mosley's blackshirts."
That note was by way of introducing an excellent epistolery rebuttal by Rabbi John Rayner (18/4/02), which, in part, reads:
"There is an old Latin saying... Those whom God wants to destroy, He first sends mad. The article by an important journalist [Lebrecht], indicates that he is the latest victim... [G]iven all that has happened [Rayner had cited Israel's colonisation of Palestinian land since 1967], it is not surprising... that almost the whole world should feel revulsion for Israel's behaviour towards the Palestinians in places like Jenin, and that in this anti-Israel (i.e., anti-Sharon) fury several different motives should get mixed up: (a) sympathy for the underdog, (b) contempt for the big bully, (c) outrage against the injustice that has been done to the Palestinians ever since 1948, (d) anger against Israel's persistent defiance of the UN over many years, and (e) common-or-garden anti-Semitism, expressing itself even in attacks on synagogues in the Diaspora? Given all this historical background, for Israelis, supported by Diaspora Jews, and now even by Lebrecht, STILL to maintain the myth of Jewish innocence and to say: we have done nothing wrong, we are merely the victims of world-wide anti-Semitism, is nothing less than madness."
I wonder how long before mad Norman reprises his 2002 whine, concluding My history, as a Jew of England, is over. And don't worry about missing it - it's bound to turn up in the Herald.