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Jewish World Review Jan. 3, 2002/ 19 Teves, 5762

Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder

Jackie & Raul
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Pardon Our French (They Just Can't Help Themselves) -- WE always believed that there were three things in life that you could not do anything about: death, taxes and anti-Semitism.

In the not too distant past, banks would never even employ a Jewish person as a teller, and if you were an African -American you were lucky if they let you deposit your money in the bank. Newspaper employment ads, even in the supposedly liberal Northeastern United States, would state, "Jews and Negroes need not apply." And if they did have the temerity to apply, it was made clear to them that they were as welcome as General Sharon at an Arafat boys night out party. If they pursued the matter and insisted in being interviewed for the job, the person interviewing them had all the enthusiasm of a dime a dance girl at the end of a long night.

All of this has changed. Today a Jew, Sanford Weil, is chief financial officer of one of the largest banks in the world, Citibank, and a black man, Richard Parsons, is head of, Time Warner, one of the three largest communications conglomerates in the world. But sadly, what goes on behind closed doors still has not changed that much. Every once in a while there is a glimpse of what really is discussed at fancy dinner parties when the table is cleared and the Cuban cigars are lit or at ladies luncheons where the tea cups are made of translucent china and the talk is as brittle as icicles.

The surprise was that one of the participants of such a party, decided to write about some of the remarks that were tossed about, and named names - more extraordinary yet, it was the hostess herself who spilled the beans.

Lord Conrad Black, a newspaper publisher threw a party and one of the guests was Daniel Bernard, the French Ambassador to Britain and close friend of French President Jacques Chirac. Lord Black's wife Barbara Amiel, reported in JWR that Bernard said, "Because of that s_ _ _ _ _ little country [Israel], why should the world be in danger of World War III?" Apparently, the Ambassador did not inquire about the names of the papers Lord Black owned. If he did, he would have discovered that, among the publications he owned was The Jerusalem Post - this only proves that Barnard, in addition to being a bigot is also not too swift. Which reminds us of the man who, after being examined by a psychiatrist informed him, "Unfortunately, you have sub-normal intelligence", to which the patient replied, "I'd like a second opinion." "OK, you're also ugly."

The Ambassador's press counselor, Ives Charpentier, said "He [Bernard] does not deny the remarks... what he said was in a private dinner and was not supposed to be put in the press..."

In other words, it was not what he said that was wrong, it was that somebody wrote about it. He continued, "The Ambassador has no intention whatsoever of apologizing, simply because he sees no reason to do so."

Le Monde, a leading French paper called the Ambassador a "victim" --- which is a little like the rapist who blames the woman he violated.

France, as a country, has a rich history of anti Semitism, but also a history of not being able to win its wars. The unworthy thought crosses our minds that in two world wars we in America, Jew and Gentile, came to France's rescue. Indeed, without American intervention it is likely there would be no France as we know it today.

There were some in America who, at that time, undoubtedly thought, to paraphrase the Ambassador, "Why should we go to war save a s_ _ _ _ nation an ocean away?" But most of us understood that in a small world we all share, evil in one place, is eventually evil everywhere.

John Donne in the sixteenth century wrote, "No man is an Iland, of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were...And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee."

The Ambassador should buy that book. It might even be published in French.

JWR contributors Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder need no introduction. Comment on this column by clicking here.



© 2002, Jackie Mason & Raul Felder.