Tuesday, March 05, 2013

"Academic freedom in France: it's not quite what it seems"

"Just to nuance the comments about academic freedom and the power of the zionist lobby in France: As one of the the students from the Ecole normale supérieure who invited Stéphane Hessel (and Leïla Shahid, and Régis Debray and others) to talk about BDS, and who subsequently was involved in fighting the administration over its cancellation, I can attest directly to the power of this lobby - it was overwhelming, and we were told by a sympathetic informant in the office of the school's president that she was receiveing pressure directly from Sarkozy's cabinet. BUT, at the same time, I was also closely involved, several years earlier, in inviting Bruno Guigue, who is much more violent and radical in his critique of Israel and who was fired from his government post for the following editorial he wrote: http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/societe/20080323.OBS6261/le-texte-de-la-tribune-de-bruno-guigue.html. His firing became a national controversy. We received physical threats at the time from zionist goons but no administrative pressure, even though the same administration was in place at the ENS - I attribute this to the fact that under Chirac there was undeniably, as you seemed to think too, more freedom on this topic than in the US or Canada, and that everything changed brutally under Sarkozy. So the conclusion I draw is that academic freedom and the power of the zionist lobby in France is much more dependent on politics and raison d'état than in the US, and can swing violently either way.
Please don't use my name if you post this."