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French press review 21 July 2014

The French dailies are on fire with news from the Middle East, with front pages showing Gaza in ashes.


Is this genocide? Communist paper L'Humanité says yes, in bold. And it's got Netanyahu's name written all over it, according to the paper.

L'Humanité compares Israel's intervention in Gaza City to Ireland's Bloody Sunday, as civilians are senselessly harrassed by the army. It reports that already more Palestinians have fled Gaza than in the last Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2008.

The daily sees only one hope for the future: a united Palestinian political front that can face up to what it calls "the Israeli carnage."

Le Monde reports on the pro-Palestinian march that took place in Paris this Saturday despite a last-minute ban by the city's security forces. Organizers condemned the ban as a "serious political mistake" and still took to the streets.

But they lost some key supporters here in France, such as the Communist Party which traditionally stands by the Palestinian cause. They were absent from the protest, as they did not want to back the increasingly hard-line the Hamas is taking.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

There were also concerns that the march would attract some of France's more notorious anti-Semites, such as far-right figure Alain Soral.

And indeed, according to Libération, radicals high-jacked the protests on Saturday, looking for an excuse to burn things. The paper reports seeing homemade anti-Semite salutes - a gesture known as quenelle and promoted by controversial French stand-up comedian Dieudonné.

With 44 arrests and shops burned down in the Northern suburbs of Paris, Libé frets that the conflict might be imported to France. According to the paper, extremists from both sides of the political spectrum hope to co-opt the struggle for peace and promote their own violent cause.

The paper's editorial says the radical left should get a grip and calls on Jewish religious leaders around the world to urge their followers to break away from Netanyahu's hardline.

Right-wing Le Figaro also worries that the Middle Eastern conflict will set fire to Paris' explosive suburbs, where protests on both Saturday and Sunday ended in fighting between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian protesters. It doesn't make much sense to compare decades of strife in wartorn Gaza to suburban misery in the French capital, but that is what the paper is running with.

The government, the paper reports, is worried about a new form of anti-Semitism. Faced with criticism over the government's ban of the protest, Prime Minister and notorious hardliner Manuel Valls congratulated himself on the decision and said France would not tolerate any glitches or provocations.

And finally, "what's in a name?" That's what Le Monde wonders, as the government is mulling over a new law about anonymizing job applications. This is important in a country where surnames can easily be recognized as foreign and French family names can reveal whether or not the potential employee comes with a chateau in the countryside. But many oppose the project, as some studies show that employers may actually be more forgiving of spelling mistakes and such if they see that the applicant is not Franco-French.

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