Monday, June 21, 2004


So much has anti-Americanism become an undisputed expression of truth for the French press that, when veteran journalist Alain Hertoghe documented in his recent book La guerre … outrances (the "all-out war") how the big French papers, because of their hatred of the U.S., reported the Iraq conflict with wild inaccuracy, the media response, right and left, was . . . silence. Well, except at Hertoghe's own paper, the Catholic daily La Croix. There, his boss accused him of committing "an act of treason" and fired him ...

Last week, the newspapers in Paris uncomfortably covered another story that until then they had successfully avoided. Earlier this month, the European blogsite reported a story they'd spotted in the Belgian satirical weekly, Sprout, written by a German politician, Ilka Schroeder, about the misuse of E.U. funds sent to Palestine. It seems the E.U. gives the Palestinians more than $400 million annually-including some $12.5 million each month, paid directly to the Palestinian Authority. The money may be going to wage war on Israel, and indirectly on the U.S. The E.U., says Schroeder, is "well aware that much of the funding ends up in the hands of terrorists"-a situation that Schroeder says doesn't alarm the E.U. at all. On the contrary, "[the E.U.] hopes that a deepening conflict in the region will highlight America's inability to mediate a satisfactory peace deal-and that Europe will then be able to ride to the rescue."

At about the same time, both EURSOC and other European-based blogsites began reporting a scandal involving Yassar Arafat's Paris-dwelling wife. It's thought that Soha Arafat may have laundered as much as $10 million of E.U. funds earmarked for Palestinians apparently into her personal account. After days of dominating the euro-blogs (and U.K. dailies), the story finally appeared in the French press-in the weekly Le Canard Enchaine, like Sprout a satirical publication. Only then did Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Liberation cover the controversy.

It's obvious that without the blogsites' scrutiny and the exposure of the scandal in the foreign media, the story never would have made it into the mainstream French press. Hertoghe says the attempt to sidestep the E.U.-Palestinian story is easy to explain. "The newspapers do not want to report a story that tells the French people that Sharon may be right," he said. The consequences of a badly informed French public are serious for the Middle East, the rest of Europe- where anti-Semitism is again on the rise- and the U.S....

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