Alain Finkielkraut is a professor of philosophy at France's elite Ecole Polytechnique who for years has been a darling of a certain section of the Parisian intelligentsia. In 1982, at the time of one of my first trials for calling the Auschwitz gas chamber story a historical lie, he revealed his concern about revisionism in a muddled work entitled L'Avenir d'une négation ("The Future of a Denial"). On the first page of this book he described me as being “of the ilk of Big Brother,” and on page 66 he wrote: “In terms of method, the deniers of the gas chambers are the spiritual children of the big Stalinists.”
In 1987 I had a personal encounter with Finkielkraut in Paris' Latin Quarter, when an anti-revisionist conference was being held at the Sorbonne. Groups of young Jews were roaming the area, on the lookout for potential revisionists. Finkielkraut was with one of these groups. Together with three or four young Jews, he came into the café where I happened to be. I greeted him with the words “They're done for, your gas chambers!” a rash remark for which I was to pay an hour later. But, at that moment, taken aback, he mumbled a reply and quickly left the café with his friends.
Since then I have followed his activities. He has steadily made something of a speciality of denouncing the “Jewish maximalism” of such figures as Claude Lanzmann.
Last October, Finkielkraut wrote an essay defending Cardinal Stepinac (1896-1960), who was being widely attacked for having collaborated with Croatia's wartime “Ustasha” regime. The essay, published in the leading French daily Le Monde, October 7, 1998 (p. 14), is entitled “Mgr Stepinac and Europe's Two Griefs” ("Mgr Stepinac et les deux douleurs de l'Europe"). In it Finkielkraut defended both the late Cardinal's memory and the wartime Croatian Roman Catholic Church. He recalled that, from 1941, the Church defended the Jews against the Ustasha regime. Stepinac, he went on, suffered personally as a victim of what he calls “Europe's two griefs": Fascism and Communism.
But what especially catches the reader's attention are the essays opening lines:
Ah, how sweet it is to be Jewish at the end of this 20th century! We are no longer History's accused, but its darlings. The spirit of the times loves, honors, and defends us, watches over our interests; it even needs our imprimatur. Journalists draw up ruthless indictments against all that Europe still has in the way of Nazi collaborators or those nostalgic for the Nazi era. Churches repent, states do penance, Switzerland no longer knows where to stand …
Obviously, it is “sweet” to be Jewish in these final years of the century, but only a Jew has the right to say so. In effect, as Finkielkraut acknowledges, it is no longer possible to publish without the imprimatur of organized Jewry. In effect, I might add, the Jew reigns unopposed.
Each year in France, the Interior Ministry and certain specialized and generously subsidized agencies carefully note and tally every incident in our country that might be regarded as anti-Semitic. Try as they do to inflate their figures, the result is clear: practically no anti-Semitic incidents can be detected in France.
If it is true that it is so sweet to be Jewish, then what right do Jews have to complain of a (nearly non-existent) anti-Semitism, or to demand, and obtain, ever harsher legal repression of revisionism, which they have succeeded in identifying with anti-Semitism?
This same October 7 issue of Le Monde reports that Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of France's National Front party, must once again pay dearly for having had the temerity, at a meeting in Munich in December 1997, to state that the gas chambers are a detail of Second World War history. [See “French Courts Punish Holocaust Apostasy,” March-April 1998 Journal, pp. 14-15.] The European Parliament, by a huge majority, had just voted to suspend Le Pen's parliamentary immunity. A German court may sentence him to five years' imprisonment. In the European Parliament, German member Willy Rothley, speaking for the Socialist faction, said that a goal of his country's penal code is to “protect the young against falsifications of history.” He went on to warn: “If Mr. Le Pen does not answer the summons of my country's courts, he will be imprisoned as soon as he sets foot on German soil.”
In Germany, repression has reached new heights. (Even Americans traveling in Germany, or a neighboring country, can be thrown into a German jail for revisionist felonies.) For the same offending remark, Le Pen has been, and is again being, prosecuted in France. In 1991, a French court ordered him to pay 1,200,000 francs (more than $200,000) for his original “detail” remark, made in 1987. On the basis of an emergency interim ruling of December 26, 1997, he is also currently “under investigation” in Paris for his Munich “detail” remark. Thus, for the same statement, he is being charged simultaneously in Munich and in Paris.
Precisely a week after the publication of his Le Monde essay, in which he conceded that Jews have nothing to complain about in France, Finkielkraut had the chutzpah to appear as a witness in the Paris Court of Appeal (11th chamber) to complain about the alleged threat to French Jews posed by revisionists. On October 14 he testified against Roger Garaudy, author of The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics, and publisher Pierre Guillaume. Finkielkraut regarded Garaudy an anti-Semite and a “Faurissonian.” He declared his approval of France's anti-revisionist “Fabius-Gayssot” law. The state, Finkielkraut said, must punish hatred. (The first to call for the introduction in France of an anti-revisionist law on the model of the Israeli law of July 1981 was a group of Jewish historians including Pierre Vidal-Naquet and Georges Wellers, united around René-Samuel Sirat, Chief Rabbi of France [Bulletin quotidien de l'Agence télégraphique juive, June 2, 1986, p. 1, 3]. This law, called the “Fabius-Gayssot Act,” was promulgated on July 13, 1990.)
Day by day, I follow with interest this mighty rise of Jewish power. In my own modest way, I pay tribute to this power. Each month I send my payment of 5,000 francs (about $900) to the “Paris Fines Receiver,” which collects the sums I am obliged regularly to hand over for revisionism, that is to say, for having annoyed organized Jewry.
I must constantly reckon with new charges and court battles.
In France, in Germany, in Palestine — indeed, when one looks closely, everywhere in the world, including Japan, it is prudent not to offend, even indirectly or unwittingly, those who, like Finkielkraut, can sigh: “Ah, how sweet it is to be Jewish at the end of this 20th century!”
As for the rest of us, we do not even have the right publicly to mutter: “Ah, how grievous it is not to be Jewish at the end of this 20th century!”
-- October 15, 1998
Robert Faurisson was educated at the Paris Sorbonne, and served as a professor at the University of Lyon in France from 1974 until 1990. He was a specialist of text and document analysis. His writings on the Holocaust issue have appeared in four books and numerous scholarly articles, many of which have appeared in this Journal.