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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

French President Hollande declared 'persona non grata'

Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein has declared French President Francois Hollande persona non grata for choosing to address university students in a visit here three weeks from now, rather than addressing the Knesset.
"Whoever disrespects the Knesset does not deserve the Knesset's respect," Edelstein wrote on Facebook. "International leaders cannot belittle the Knesset, the elected parliament of the State of Israel, and ignore it. As speaker of the Knesset I am determined to protect the dignity of our nation and its representatives, the MKs. I will not allow Israeli democracy to be humiliated and turned into a doormat."
Then why not go all the way and not allow him into the country? (Answer: Edelstein doesn't have the power to do that). This sounds a bit like the mirror image of Groucho Marx's famous quip....

Let's go to the videotape. The story starts at the 4:00 mark.

And if the story of Francois Hollande sounds familiar to you, it should. There was another 'world leader' who recently addressed university students rather than the Knesset. At the time, I wrote:
Given his refusal to speak at the Knesset as well, maybe Obama is trying to avoid recognizing the State of Israel. If so, that should be deeply troubling to all Israelis... I don't  why we invited him, but maybe we can still retract....
So what's the difference? Why wasn't Obama at least declared persona non grata in the Knesset? How's this for a lame excuse....
As for how Hollande is different from US President Barack Obama, who also chose to address students and not the Knesset, Edelstein said he was disappointed then, too, but Obama visited Israel shortly after the government was formed and the situation in the Knesset was messier than it is now.
Right.... The person who is going to 'suffer' from this is not Hollande, but rather French Ambassador to Israel, Patrick Maisonnave.
New French Ambassador to Israel Patrick Maisonnave will not be invited to any official Knesset ceremonies, nor will any other French dignitaries or ministers visiting Israel.
"There are plenty of events in universities. I'm sure the French officials will be too busy to find time for the Knesset," Edelstein remarked sarcastically.
And the French reaction?
A French Embassy spokeswoman said she was "surprised" to see Edelstein's reaction, because Hollande's schedule is not finalized yet.
"There is no need to react like this. The president wants to show his attachment to Israeli democracy and its representatives and wants to go to the Knesset. We are in touch with the Knesset to find the best time for [Hollande] to come, working with the Knesset's scheduling constraints. We're working on options and trying to be accommodating," the French Embassy spokeswoman stated.
Isn't it the Knesset that would need to be accommodating in this case? After all, they are the would-be hosts.

Don't get me wrong - I'm all in favor of banning Hollande from the Knesset for this. In fact, I'm in favor of banning him from the country altogether if he won't come address the Knesset.

But we should have done the same to Obama. The mistake was allowing Obama to set the precedent of going over the heads of Israel's elected representatives in the form of a speech to 'university students.'

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At 4:21 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

But Obama's university speech made for *great* campaign ads for the progressive Dems. Couldn't mess that up... just sayin'. Govt choices made.


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