The life of Alain Ménargues
– vice-director of Radio France International – changed
overnight in October 2004. No sooner had his book “Le mur
de Sharon” (“Sharon’s Wall”) been published
than he brutally found himself caught in one of those ideological
campaigns where lies are mixed with the irrational. Accused of “anti-Semitism”,
Alain Ménargues was dismissed from his functions. The suspicion
of anti-Semitism – with all the manipulations that can follow
– weighs heavily upon the heads of any public personage who
criticizes Israel. It can destroy careers and ruin lives. Alain
Ménargues is the most recent living proof.
Silvia Cattori Didn’t you knowingly break a taboo
by affirming that Israel is racist?
Alain Ménargues The texts are there. I invented nothing.
The Jewish State of Israel is considered legally racist by the United
S.C. You paid dearly. Have you been affected by it?
A.M. I am resolved to fight against all those who unjustly accuse
honest people. You know that for a long time I have been engaged
in information in the Middle East. I know very well, from having
observed it closely, how Israel exercises its control over information.
Since the 1970s there exists a military information service. There
is a department that occupies itself exclusively with the press.
Every journalist who goes to Israel is given a press card delivered
by a press service that is dependent upon the army. It is therefore
obviously the army that is charged, among others, to shape the image
of Israel in the world. All Israeli embassies have a public relations
service, diplomats whose job it is to assure that the good image
of Israel is preserved. In the affair that concerns me, the embassies
of Israel in Paris and Brussels intervened. They put pressure on
journalists via what we call agents of influence: in order to have
it said I am anti-Semite, that is, to take away my credibility and
dissuade other journalists from echoing my remarks.
S.C. Was this reported to you from a reliable source?
A.M. Yes, I can give you the proof. There are journalists who can
S.C. How can a State intervene so openly?
A.M. It is what is called in communications manipulation. In my
case, it was done in a very precise way. I represent a textbook
case. With my last book, , I hit on a sensitive point, especially
as Israel’s image is deteriorating more and more. There is
a report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dated last August,
which analyses the image of Israel. This report shows that Israel
has lost the world media battle. That Israel risks to be classified,
very soon, in the same ranks as apartheid South Africa. My book
arrived at the right moment.
S.C. Why such an outburst against you when so many things
have been already written in the specialist media and on Internet
A.M. I don’t have the reputation of someone who transgresses
the requirements of correctly providing information. In that which
concerns Israeli politics I am very rigorous in what I write. I
speak of the rights of children, of women, and the abuses they suffer
in regards to Israel as for other countries. Israel is not a country
apart from other countries. I call, therefore, simply for the application
of the resolutions of the UN, which Israel ignores. Consequently,
to eliminate me, to drive me from my posts of responsibility, a
post in the media, is a way of killing two birds with one stone
for my detractors. I am preparing a document on this subject.
S.C. So you are not laying down your arms?
A.M. I am going to fight. I won’t let them do this to me.
S.C. Are you fighting to get back your job at RFI?
A.M. No, it is impossible to return to RFI. I am fighting to obtain
S.C. Do you have a concrete project?
A.M. Yes, we are in the process of putting together a foundation
grouping together at least 100 journalists, that will have as its
task to verify that those who are accused of anti-Semitism are accused
for the right reasons.
S.C. Journalists who are part of editorial boards in France?
A.M. Yes, journalists who are well-known professionally in France
as well as other countries. The goal is that every time a person
is suspected of anti-Semitism and described as such by the media,
his case would be examined by our foundation. If it happens that
the person is falsely accused, we will intervene to demand that
the true facts be established. A way of saying that we will no longer
accept the manipulation.
S.C. Do you think you will intervene only when someone
is accused of anti-Semitism or for all cases of racism?
A.M. I begin with the idea that there is in France a latent anti-Arab
racism and a latent anti-Jew racism. To deny this would be dishonest.
Beginning with this, there can be offshoots from one or the other
part. However, in most cases, these accusations are not well-founded.
We use the term anti-Semitism, as in my case, to break someone’s
will, career or to cast aside those who embarrass us. So the committee
that we are setting up will have as task to denounce the manipulations.
As soon as an affair breaks, it will immediately be taken into account
by our “committee of one hundred”.
S.C. When will you be operational?
A.M. Soon. I hope by December 2004.
S.C. Do you really think the media will follow up on your
A.M. Yes, I think so. I believe in the honesty of people. I have
worked in this trade for thirty years. No one among my colleagues
would ever have thought, before these attacks against me were unleashed,
that one day I could be treated as a racist or an anti-Semite. These
labels have nothing to do with my career or my concern to inform.
I have friends who, like me, worked on the ground as war correspondents
and who are still on the ground. All these professionals know me,
know that what I say is true. They can only support me.
S.C. You didn’t expect such attacks?
A.M. In my book “Sharon’s Wall”, on page 11,
I had a foreboding of what would happen to me. But not to this degree.
Curiously, my book was not attacked. It is what I said during a
conference that is being questioned.
S.C. Did the fact that you discussed religious questions
also not help?
A.M. It is true that I work on the influence of religions in the
world. In Iraq we can speak of different religious tendencies. Bush
brings religion into all his declarations. But as soon as you say
that Israel is what it is, a theocratic State, the shields go up.
I talked about “Leviticus”, of impure and pure, that
separates and that has a link with the wall. For it is a constituent
element. It sufficed for me to evoke this on the radio for things
to degenerate into a real fist-fight. If at the beginning the theoreticians
of the Zionist state were secular, and the religious had condemned
the very concept of Zionism, the religious later took an extremely
important weight. Especially since 1987. All laws pass by the religious.
Moreover, it is a religion that considers itself superior to any
other. I feel free to speak about all religions. People of the Jewish
faith speak themselves of the “chosen people”. Why shouldn’t
I have the right to bring up this notion of the “chosen people”?
S.C. In continuing to speak like this, don’t you
risk worsening your case?
A.M. What you are suggesting is that I be silent, that I not fight.
There are people who manipulate the information in France. The daily
“Liberation” assassinated me. And I should be quiet?
I began my professional life in Vietnam. I traversed many difficulties.
I have the habit of putting things into perspective. My affair is
nothing compared to what is going on elsewhere and notably in Palestine.
I am not a man of power. In an interview with the Belgian daily
“Le soir”, I said that my freedom of expression was
not worth several stripes on my shoulder. I am a free man and I
intend to stay that way. No honours, no money, no job will prevent
me from saying what I wish. When I signed my contract with RFI,
there was a restrictive clause that I had removed. That I be held
to be discrete on internal affairs is normal, but, for the rest,
you cannot demand of a journalist that he not speak.
S.C. Were you hurt when you were forbidden to work?
A.M. Hurt isn’t the word. I am strongly irritated to see
that in France there is a fundamental liberty that is in the process
of disappearing. And this is a fact that can only bring to me react,
to fight. In my country, that is France, I can’t imagine that
there is an intellectual terrorism that forces people to shut up
under pain of being completely crushed. I am outraged to observe
such a thing. So, hurt personally, no. I knew that this pressure
existed. But since it has happened to me, I measure all its importance.
S.C. Are you referring to these campaigns designed to whitewash
Israel and to blacken the Muslim Arabs who march, especially since
A.M. Yes. I believe that this is pure manipulation in the sense
of public relations. Israel was able to evolve for more than half
a century under the image of victim. But this image of victim has
started strongly to crumble. Especially since 1982, after the massacres
of Sabra and Chatila. Since then, the heads of Israeli propaganda
have been forced to finance campaigns in order to not lose their
status of victim. To do this, they have used every possible public
relations technique possible and imaginable. An example: while in
France and the United States above all, we forbid the television
networks to show cadavers, caskets, and the burial of soldiers in
case of conflict, Israeli TV, when there is an attack in their country,
do the opposite. Each time there is an attack in Israel, their information
service broadcasts repeatedly images of blown apart corpses in order
to shock and mobilize opinion. This is the technique of manipulation
through the image. The Palestinians do the same thing. I don’t
distinguish between the two. But in the case of Israel, these images
of exploded buses, abundantly broadcast, are distributed freely
to all the world’s networks. So, while here we show cadavers
in a very vague way, precisely to lessen the shock, in Israel, the
shock is a commentary.
S.C. How do they proceed in detail?
A.M. There is in their world of communication something extraordinary.
Israel counts, in every embassy, a communication officer who intervenes
systematically with the help of the agents of influence. This is
what happened in my case. The Israeli embassy intervenes with some
journalists to let them know that such a person is an anti-Semite
and should be silenced. Here is France, the lawyer Goldnadel ,
is one of these agents of influence who act on the behalf of Israel.
This lawyer reproached me for having spoken of “Leviticus”
on Radio Courtoisie. “Leviticus” is the fourth book
of the Torah where there is the question of pure and impure. The
Torah is part of the Bible. So what prevents me from speaking about
S.C. But to go on Radio Courtoisie, politically marked,
isn’t that to open yourself to criticisms?
A.M. It is a Catholic radio station situated on the extreme right.
But, when Mr. Goldnadel made his accusations, he forgot to say that
he has himself gone four times on Radio Courtoisie. He is not shy
to make accusations like “Ménargues talks about ‘Leviticus’
on a radio of the extreme right, therefore he is from the extreme
right”. All this, which comes from mixing things up, has the
precise goal of maintaining confusion. The same thing happened in
Belgium when I went to promote my book. The Israeli embassy telephoned
a journalist to tell him not to interview me because I was “anti-Semitic”.
But, of what do they accuse me? When I talk about Zionism, I refer
to Zionism as a colonial political theory, a policy that wishes
to create a Jewish State for Jews in a zone that was already inhabited.
To say this is not going against the truth. It is unfortunately
the truth. Zionism was born in Basle in the context of colonial
expansion. The world has changed its view regarding colonialism.
When Sharon says that “the war of independence of 1948 is
not over and that each meter gained is a gain for Israel”,
it is a colonial attitude. But when people denounce this sort of
affirmation they are vilified. For me, Israel is a country like
any other. I don’t see why we reserve for it a special treatment.
We must speak of what happens there. I say it over and over. On
the airwaves of this radio association, that has a very marked connotation
of the Right, all sorts of people express themselves. Mr. Philippe
de Saint Robert, who questioned me for Radio Courtoisie, is a leftist
S.C. So those who were unleashed upon you after your appearance
on Radio Coutoisie, participated in a manipulation?
A.M. Absolutely. A manipulation led above all by a man like M.
Goldnadel, who had himself been interviewed several times on this
radio station. Everyone can see today how we make confused associations
to destroy someone. M. Goldnadel made such a mix by putting together
under the same heading my name, Leviticus, Gollnish, who is number
two at the Front national, the Shoah. All that with the clear intention
of defaming me and sowing confusion. Among citizens of the Jewish
faith, there are two worlds. Those who feel French of the Jewish
faith, and those who feel first Jewish, then Israeli, and finally
French. These are two totally different worlds. One must determine
which has an exacerbated nationalist spirit and which considers
his religion as a simple religion. There is a whole ambiguity of
message and language around this question.
S.C. Why don’t more journalists describe things as
A.M. Because certain of them must pay the bills at the end of the
month. There are many journalists who share the same understanding
of things as me. But they are not free. The bosses of the press
are afraid of losing subscribers, income from advertising.
S.C. When you were let go, didn’t the attitude of
the Society of Journalists [la Société des journalists)
weigh against you?
A.M. Radio France internationale is 400 journalists in Paris and
300 correspondents dispersed throughout the world. This Society
of Journalists is composed of 15 people, of whom only three are
active. This is what happened. I had launched a basic reform that
put those who merited it in front. That bothered people’s
habits. There was already a malaise.
S.C. So some profited from this to take their revenge?
A.M. As soon as I was accused of anti-Semitism, the latent discontent
S.C. Why do so few journalists break free of the crowd?
A.M. This gets back to what, in the media, corresponds to the “politically
correct”, and which is, in reality, the expression of complete
intolerance. France has fallen into intellectual intolerance. What
is extraordinary is that, when we watch television, the people who
incarnate the “politically correct” are the uncultivated.
My grandmother said “Culture is like jam. The more we spread
it around, the less we have.” We are far removed from the
time when we had debates, where people confronted each other with
arguments: Today we don’t confront each other. There are no
more quality debates. We assist at a continuous shower of anathemas
on all the television networks and in the media in general. The
“politically correct” doesn’t think, doesn’t
read, and has no references. Look at what happened to Dieudonné
who is an artist. Was he too much or not enough of a provocateur?
But isn’t provocation part of an exchange of arguments? Shouldn’t
one provoke in order to get a reaction? The role of the media is
not to condemn. When Tariq Ramadan develops an idea, why insult
him? If we aren’t in agreement with him, engage him in a debate.
But not a lynching. And what if we listened to him? That would be
more constructive than to blacken him and reject him.
S.C. You are evoking figures upon whom accusations of anti-Semitism
are continually showered. Is that not what awaits you?
A.M. As soon as we criticize Israel, we are accused of anti-Semitism.
By accusing everyone of being anti-Semitic, you finish by rendering
the term anti-Semitism banal. These excesses will finish by turning
against the State of Israel and, unfortunately, against the citizens
of the Jewish faith who accept all these abuses. After what I have
undergone, I received thousands of emails expressing their sympathy
and also their exasperation. The intolerance of one risks to make
a bed of blazing hate for others. All this should make us think.
S.C. Is this intolerance maintained and is anti-Semitism
exaggerated according to you?
A.M. I don’t believe in the spontaneity of the reactions.
There is, from the evidence, a manipulation. Look at what has happened
in France these last few months. There were acts attributed to anti-Semitism
that were found to be organized by people of the Jewish faith. There
is a base of anti-Semitism that is inscribed in the Christian tradition.
A basis that is minimal. But, it is certain that by continuing to
mobilize society nonsensically on the theme of anti-Semitism, we
can not but exasperate people. These last months, we have seen Ministers
go out and be moved at least four times by acts provoked against
themselves by citizens of the Jewish faith who claimed to be victims.
There was the case of the rabbi who stabbed himself, of the synagogue
set afire by a drunken Jew. And everyone got stirred up without
verifying the truthfulness of the facts.
S.C. How to put an end to these manipulations?
A.M. By reason and tolerance. One and all must better verify, better
separate the true from the false and only condemn when there is
reason to do so. But not as it is done now where the whole society
is mobilizes a prioi around anti-Semitism. We are on a very dangerous
slope. People make accusations too quickly and journalists don’t
do their work of verification and explanation. This brings with
S.C. So you attribute the responsibility on the one hand
to those who raise the specter of anti-Semitism and on the other
A.M. Yes. And to the a-culture of journalists and opinion makers.
I think there is a desire to manipulate. When Bernard-Henri Levy
allows himself to fence with words to demonstrate that being anti-Zionist
really means one is an anti-Semite, it is nonsense. It is false.
Were anti-Gaullists anti-French? Were anti-communists anti-Slavs?
This uselessly stirs up and confuses things.
S.C. Did the Ruffin Report that yet again drives in the
nail of anti-Semitism surprise you?
A.M. The Ruffin Report is a scandal. We would no longer have the
right to criticize one country alone, therefore we could no longer
think. One thing should concern us here. The one country that has
as legal parent the United Nations’ Security Council is Israel.
The United Nations has voted a large number of resolutions that
have never been applied. Why? Is this tolerable in a world that
needs justice and stability? There is the big problem.
S.C. The more I listen to you, the more I sense your determination
to react. So they have not succeeded in breaking you?
A.M. Ola là-là. No. I figure that what happened to
me is just one of those things that happen [un accident de parcours].
They didn’t break me. They will not shut me up. I will continue
to express myself, with the means I have, to say what I see. If
I make errors, I am ready to accept all condemnations. But my remarks
were never shown to be false. They condemned me because I spoke.
S.M. It didn’t get empty around you?
A.M. No, no. On the contrary. There are an enormous number of people
who contacted me to ask me to continue.
S.C. Do you have any resentment regarding those who attacked
A.M. No, none. The media is collective. I’ll eventually get
angry at the editors in chief who distributed texts without verifying
the terms. Not against the journalists. They do their job the best
they can. If they are manipulated, it is for them to know the limits.
Those really responsible are the editors in chief.
S.C. Has what has happened to you made you pessimistic?
A.M. Not at all. There will inevitably be an evolution of things.
Certainly, everything is put into place by Israel to prevent people
from knowing what happens. This is what the Israeli embassies and
their agents of communication or influence do: prevent the base
from knowing and from intervening with their leaders. You can’t
lie all the time. Israel has lost the media battle. Israel can no
longer pass itself off as the victim. Israel is the aggressor. People
won’t wait long before understanding who the murderers are.
In spite of all the means used to smother the truth, eyewitness
reports will end up by coming out. I am convinced that the political
figures in Europe will end up being pushed by their base. They will
be forced to take decisions the day that the people really start
to move. In a democracy, as long as the people don’t move,
the power won’t move.
S.C. How is it possible to have such a power over editorial
boards and for such a long period of time?
A.M. By doing what they have done until now: media campaigns based
upon lies. They use every means and they have the money to do it.
S.C. Do you have an example?
A.M. There is a person who edits an article that accuses someone
of being “anti-Semitic”. This article is picked up by
journalists who don’t verify the origin of this information.
It is as simple as that. There are evidently some subjects that
receive a particular echo.
S.C. But these articles, the fruits of manipulation, where
do they start?
A.M. There is a non governmental organization called “Lawyers
without borders” (Avocat sans frontiers). Created by Mr. Goldnadel,
this NGO is a sort of illusion because there already exists in France
another NGO called “Lawyers Without Borders of France”
(Avocats sans frontières de France). When Mr. Goldnadel sends
out an article under the name of “Lawyers Without Borders”,
the journalist is not going to verify who is behind this NGO. So
the name given by Mr. Goldnadel lends to confusion. Mr. Goldnadel
attacks everyone for anti-Semitism. Daniel Mermet, Pascal Boniface,
and many others. All the media abundantly talked about the accusations
he made, but when Mr. Goldnadel lost the cases he undertook against
them, the media didn’t mention it. That’s how it happens.
S.C. Do you see a possible evolution in the way of informing
A.M. If everyone said what they knew, the truth, we wouldn’t
be there. If all journalists really did their work honestly, we
could stop the flood of lies that unfold about everything that touches
the Arab world. What is reassuring is that the readers and listeners
are more intelligent and cultivated than those who inform them.
I am discovering that with happiness in my meetings and emails I
Paris, November 2004
 Le mur de Sharon. (Sharon’s Wall) Presse
de la Renaissance, Paris, 2004.
 The association « Avocats sans frontières »
that M. Goldnadel directs in France, goes after those who criticise
Translated from the French by www.signs-of-the-times.org