Editor, Daily Nexus,
I just wanted to comment on Neer Lerner’s opinion piece titled “France’s Quiet Epidemic” (Daily Nexus, Sept. 24).
It’s one thing to have an opinion, but it’s another thing entirely to submit an article in which some of the “facts” used to support the author’s argument are entirely false or outdated by 30 months or so.
Lerner writes in reference to a rash of anti-Semitic acts in recent years: “Not only has the Muslim community in France done nothing to stop these incidents from occurring, neither has the government, which refuses to even acknowledge that anti-Semitism exists. Neither President Jacques Chirac nor Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has visited the torched synagogues.”
The claim that the French government has not acknowledged these attacks is patently false. President Chirac and the highest-ranking cabinet members have publicly (i.e. in televised speeches, press releases, etc.) denounced these attacks and pledged to bring perpetrators to justice and strive to prevent future incidents, as CNN.com reported August 8. Now, I’m not saying that the French government has necessarily implemented policies commensurate with its rhetoric on this matter, but one can easily refute Lerner’s claim that the government is completely ignoring the problem by looking at news archives (e.g. The New York Times, Le Monde, CNN.com, BBC News Online[O1] etc.) over the past few months.
Another thing that concerns me about Lerner’s article is his mention of Prime Minister Jospin in the present tense; Jospin has not been the Prime Minster of France since spring 2002. If Lerner had actually researched basic material for his article, he would have discovered that Jean-Pierre Raffarin – not Jospin – is the current Prime Minster. I suppose one cannot expect Mr. Lerner to have done such a thing, because then he would have discovered, as the BBC did last November, that Prime Minister Raffarin also publicly denounced anti-Semitism and vowed to punish transgressors severely – thus making the criticisms presented in his article totally baseless.
One thing I agree with Mr. Lerner on is that the anti-Semitism taking place in France today is reprehensible, as is all crime or discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, etc. However, one need not spout outright falsehoods in order to speak out about and call attention to such injustice.