For the week ending 12 November 2005 / 10 Heshvan 5766

Paris in the Fall

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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"I love Paris in the Springtime,

I love Paris in the Fall"

These lyrics from one of the popular ballads of the second half of the past century seem to echo in the violence, which is associated with Paris today.

Is there love for Paris in this Fall or is there love for the fall of Paris?

While the French authorities institute a nightly curfew to quell the riots, which have rocked their capital for two weeks, the world looks on with mixed feelings of empathy.

Empathy is in order when we consider the plight of innocent civilians seeing their automobiles going up in flames because violent elements are angry with the governments neglect of their economic condition. But it is difficult to fault the leaders of the US and UK for rubbing their hands in a glee as the French, who refused to join their efforts in combating Islamic terror in Iraq, now suffer from that same terror in their own capital. While they resist giving verbal expression to their feelings, there is little doubt that deep in their hearts there is a vengeful voice saying, "It couldnt happen to nicer guys!"

You dont have to be a great historian to see a pattern in Frances record of political pragmatism. From Talleyand, who turned French defeat on the battlefield into triumph at the diplomatic table, to Marshal Petain, who collaborated with the Nazis to create the Vichy government, the history of French politics is marked and marred with shortsighted self-interest.

In regard to Israel there were times when it was in Frances interest to be friendly, whether it was in selling arms or cooperating in the Sinai Campaign to free the Suez Canal from Egyptian control. But when relations with the Arab world became more important, Paris was the source of many anti-Israel political moves and declarations.

The troubles of France, and for other European countries, should serve as a lesson for the world in many ways. No nation can import foreigners to compensate for its falling birth rate and to provide cheap labor without eventually paying the price of what these immigrants view as exploitation. No nation can long shirk its international responsibilities and rely on others to sacrifice their sons in the unavoidable struggle against worldwide terror.

With all of our empathy for those who are suffering from the riots in Paris, we must see the hand of Heaven teaching French politicians a lesson.

When the Prophet Jonah arrived on his Divinely dictated mission in the capital of the superpower of his time, he warned that if Nineveh did not repent its sinful ways within forty days the city would be "overturned". The king and all his subjects did indeed repent and the prophecy of "overturning" was fulfilled in their "overturning" of their evil ways.

We are not interested in seeing the fall of Paris because the alternative to French control is unthinkable. We would like to see the fall of French pride and shortsighted selfishness, which will be a benefit for the entire world.

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