French Mideast Policy and Franco-Israeli Relations

France and the Urban Guerrilla Warfare of the Black Blocs

| May 22, 2019

France has been contending for years with violent anarchist gangs known as the Black Blocs, who have been piggybacking on the mass demonstrations of the Yellow Vests to commit acts of vandalism and wreak considerable economic damage. The Black Blocs’ destructive riots on the Champs-Élysées prompted the French government to take tougher preventive measures against the gangs, sparking criticism from both right and left. The government will have to keep fighting the Black Blocs and the radicals among the Yellow Vests, who are trying to achieve their economic and political goals through violence.

The “Yellow Vests” in France: Social Protest, Violence, and Antisemitism

| February 28, 2019

The “yellow vest” (gilets jaunes) demonstrations pose a difficult challenge to the French government and nation. They have revealed great public anger and frustration and have spread throughout the country with no sign of abating any time soon. They have also been marked by widespread acts of violence, including severe cases of antisemitism. The escalation of the demonstrations, despite President Macron’s efforts, raises a fear of anarchy that could deteriorate into civil war. For French Jewry, the mounting antisemitism is reminiscent of dark processes in Europe on the eve of WWII. 

France’s Fight Against Islamic Radicalization: The Writing Is Still on the Wall

| October 5, 2018

The lack of integration into France of many Muslims over a long period, combined with severe socio-economic problems, has produced bitterness, alienation, and fertile ground for radical imams who use the French separation between state and religion (Laïcité) to promote uncontrolled Islamist radicalization. The French leadership has failed to cope with these problems as it is not politically correct to intervene in religious matters. The ISIS terrorist attacks, perpetrated by radicalized French Muslims, brought the issues to the center of the public discourse. President Macron embraced many of his predecessor’s counterterrorism measures and moved further with ambitious deradicalization plans designed to address the core problems, including mounting suburban crime. However, increasing Muslim radicalization, as well as a growing left-right polarization regarding the ways to tackle the problem, still present serious challenges to the French republican order.

Macron’s Proactive Position on Iran: Dialogue vs. Sanctions

| March 20, 2018

Emmanuel Macron, France’s charismatic new leader, has adopted a proactive approach towards Iran that combines a moderate attitude with Sarkozy’s hard line. On the one hand, he supports the strict preservation of the 2015 nuclear agreement and opposes Trump’s ”fix or annul” view of the deal. He also supports tightened bilateral relations with Tehran. On the other hand, he has adopted a hard line, demanding the establishment of an international mechanism of inspection and sanctions on the Iranian ballistic missile program as well as a restriction on its destabilizing involvement in the region. Macron’s demands have started a war of words between Paris and Tehran that has the potential to escalate.  

Macron’s Presidency Heralds Nothing New in Israel-France Relations

| December 12, 2017

Emmanuel Macron’s presidency heralds no new era in Israel-France relations, particularly on issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Like other French presidents before him, he condemns Palestinian terrorism and Israeli settlements in the West Bank as if they are moral equivalents. His response to US President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was to reassert the traditional French subscription to the two-state solution and to stress that Paris does not approve of the American move.

Macron’s Election and the Challenges He Faces

| May 22, 2017

Emmanuel Macron’s election as France’s president by an impressive majority was met by widespread relief in most of the EU countries and in the western world. It would be a mistake, however, to ignore the deep divisions in French society that the election revealed. Large portions of the French public deeply distrust the political establishment, the EU, and globalization. The result was less an expression of support for Macron’s platform and more a rejection of Marine Le Pen. However, the threat to French democracy emanating from the far right as well as the far left is not yet over. Macron will have to overcome huge challenges – and quickly – if he is to deliver on his promises of economic reform and his pledges to bridge the deep gaps in French society and politics.

Between Paris and Cairo: Balancing Security and Diplomacy

The measured Israeli reaction to the latest flurry of problematic diplomatic activity reflects Jerusalem’s more central security imperatives, as well as its newly-discovered sense of being a significant regional player rather than a besieged small state in a hostile sea.

The Unrealistic European Peace Offensive

| June 1, 2015

While partition of the Land of Israel between the Jews and the Arabs living in this small part of the world is desirable, the Palestinian national movement has proved to be the wrong partner to implement partition and is largely responsible for the failure of the two state solution. Conflict management is the only approach that has a chance to minimize suffering on both sides and achieve a modicum of stability in a stormy Middle East.

France and the Iranian Nuclear Program

| November 14, 2013

France’s bold move to hold up a nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran reflects its broader policy and genuine concern about a nuclear Iran.

France and the Syrian Civil War: From Diplomacy to Military Intervention?

| September 8, 2013

France has changed its view that conflicts can be resolved only through diplomacy, which explains the country’s recent military activism in Libya, Mali, and perhaps soon in Syria, as well.