Thursday, February 12, 2015

What is the the real lesson of the Drefuss Affair?

by R Congress

In their rants about about an alleged tidal wave of anti-Semitism in France Israeli apologists often dredge up the Drefuss Affair of 1894-1906 as an example of how the French hate Jews (and all French better leave and go to their real homeland of Israel).

But what conclusions can actually be drawn from this event?

In 1894 French army Captain Alfred Drefuss was accused of passing military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris. A court martial convicted him and he was sentenced to life on Devil's Island. In 1896 evidence came to light that Drefuss was innocent and that a Major Esterhazy was the actual traitor. This evidence was hastily quashed by the general staff.

Getting wind of what the military high command was doing, French socialists, secular liberals and important literary and intellectual figures began to publicize the case. Author Emil Zola wrote a famous article in a leading Paris newspaper entitled "J'accuse," which helped create a mass movement for freeing Drefuss.

This was a major moment in modern French history. The military top command, the Catholic church, bitter royalists who hated the existence of the French Republic, all insisted that Drefuss was guilty and received a fair trial.

In 1899 Drefuss was brought back to France, was retried and convicted again. However, he also was pardoned after the new guilty verdict. The public debate raged on and the forces of left and right continued to verbally clash.

Finally, in 1906 Drefuss was fully exonerated and returned to the army as an officer. He died in 1935, serving in the army during the First World War and ended his career as a Lt. Colonel.

What was the outcome of this political battle? The left won, Drefuss was cleared. It was a defeat for French anti-semites and political reactionaries. France answer with a resounding YES to the place of Jews as equal members of French society. It was a big step forward for progressive forces in France.

To hear this story from hard-line Zionists you would think that Drefuss died on Devil's Island and all Jews in France were considered to be traitors.

Actually, an accurate post script would be that right after Drefuss died, Leon Blum, of the Socialist Party, became the first Jewish Prime Minister of France.

No comments:

Post a Comment