By Guillaume Fabien
April 2, 2012
The CRIF (Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France) is the closest thing France has to the United States Jewish lobby's flagship organisation AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). Early each year, for example, the CRIF summons – more than it invites – to a solemn ceremonial dinner most of the country's government, starting with the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the Presidents of both the National Assembly and the Senate, and up to fifteen serving Ministers or Secretaries of State, not to mention a plethora of lofty figures from domestic and foreign political, economic, diplomatic and media spheres. On this occasion, ritually, those attending do not fail to listen religiously to the speech made by the CRIF's President. In flattering, complaining and threatening tones he gives his lesson to France and dictates to the government the conduct to adopt in the near future so as better to heed the chosen people's desiderata. The gove rnment representatives who've taken in this lecture then vie in their obsequiousness, undertaking to do even better in the year just begun in bending to the edicts of this mighty body. For the CRIF the rights and privileges of the State of Israel are the priority of priorities. Its current president is Richard Prasquier, a round little man whose nerves often seem quite on edge
The bête noire of this president is historical revisionism and, therefore, Professor Robert Faurisson. In February 2012, Faurisson's visit to Iran and meeting with President Ahmadinejad, who bestowed on him the first ever "award for courage, resistance and fighting spirit" and received him in a special audience, made Richard Prasquier lose control of his nerves. He posted three articles dealing with Faurisson on his organisation's website, all three under the name of an individual called Marc Knobel ("Faurisson and Ahmadinejad, the infernal couple" on February 15; "Far-right and Iran, the great love affair" on February 22; "Robert Faurisson, portrait of a Holocaust denier, [book] by Valerie Igounet" on March 15). The pitch of these pieces steadily rose to the point where an emboldened Marc Knobel, who had begun by writing that Faurisson had "probably" received a cheque for €120,000 from President Ahmadinejad, ended up stating without reservation that the Professor had w ell and truly received a cheque for that amount. There, at a stroke, probability had disappeared altogether; there was now just confirmation, a calm certainty.
In France there is a law enabling any person named or designated in an article to exercise what is called "the right of reply", and those in charge of the publication in question will have, upon receipt of the "reply" text, a period of five working days in which to publish it. One must be aware that the drafting of such a text is a consummate art. The gist of Professor Faurisson's letter to the CRIF was in the following sentence:
The truth is as follows: neither before, during nor after my stay in Tehran did I receive, either from the Iranian president or any of his representatives, "a cheque for 120,000 euros" nor any other sum of money at all either by cheque, cash in hand or any other means.
Such wording adhered strictly to the requirements of legislation and case law. The CRIF was therefore obliged to publish the text, but decided not to do so.
Nonetheless news of the matter began to spread, notably with the publication, in Italy, of the brief paper the Professor had presented in Tehran ("Against Hollywoodism, Revisionism"). This occurred in the daily Rinascita on February 21. That very day, the Jewish community of Rome demanded nothing less than the banning of the newspaper! It did so in an article entitled "Faurisson oltraggia la Shoah" (Faurisson's outrage against the Shoah). In France, the CRIF website, in its press review of March 2, cited that article but – a noteworthy detail – without mentioning its demand for Rinascita's closure. Soon afterwards, realising that the Professor was preparing to take them to court, Richard Prasquier and friends saw they were caught in the trap of their "aggravated lie" and, as the criminal or civil code puts it, of their "refusal of the right of reply" and the "personal injury" or "defamation" that they had brought about.
Thus did the almighty CRIF suddenly find itself forced into the most humiliating of back-downs. On March 21 the site posted, with the by-line of its trusted liar, Marc Knobel, a formal retraction: no, the Professor had received no cheque, no money! ("Précision concernant un article sur Robert Faurisson" – Clarification concerning an article on Robert Faurisson).
The entertaining bit is that, when making his retraction, the liar found a way to slip in two "lies of omission" (of lesser calibre, it's true, than the original lie). Marc Knobel began by omitting the fact that after his article of February 15 he had, on February 22, reoffended, aggravating the charge made in his first piece. Then he left out the fact that the information prompting his back-down had come from a certain text whose existence he avoided mentioning at all: this was, precisely, the Professor's "right of reply" letter (see: "Mensonge, reculade, et nouveau mensonge du CRIF" – Lie, back-down, and new lie by the CRIF).
One may wonder whether this humiliation is the first of its kind ever endured by an institution which, drunk with power, believes itself to be above such a traditional and well-known French law as that of July 29, 1881 on "the freedom of the press".
As for Richard Prasquier, he incurs a heavy responsibility in all this business. For starters, by his refusal to grant Professor Faurisson a wholly justified "right of reply", he flouted the law. Then, to avoid the risk of a lawsuit, he turned to the liar Marc Knobel himself to have the lie corrected; the latter did that but, as we've seen, permitted himself two new lies in the process.
Even at the CRIF there must be honest people. Will they leave a President of the quality of Richard Prasquier in office for long?As for Marc Knobel, he seems to like staying in the shadows: thanks to the historian Paul-Eric Blanrue, here he is for once out in the daylight, in all his loveliness [omitted for technical reasons].