French weekly magazines review 3 August 2014

The safety of air travel, French Jews heading back to Israel, and President Hollande's military exploits in Africa are all covered in the round-up of this week's top news stories. 


We begin with a question you may have asked yourself this week. Should we be afraid of planes? L’Express popped the question after the aviation industry suffered 3 tragedies in eight days: the Malaysian Airlines Boeing shot down by a missile over Ukraine, the Air Algeria McDonnell Douglas which crashed in Mali and the TransAsia ATR airliner lost off the coast of Taiwan.

For the journal, commercial aviation which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year can boast of transport 3 billion air passengers in 2013 and achieving its best safety record in the history of air travel. Although L’Express considers planes as the safest means of transport it however explains that the macabre series registered these last weeks shows that security remains a challenge of all times – the weather, flying over risky areas and cost effectiveness.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

Le Nouvel Observateur takes up what looks like a mass exodus of Jews from France after it learnt that 5,000 French citizens have migrated to Israel since the start of 2014, making France the fish pond of candidates returning to the Promised Land. The journal says the vast majority of emigrants cite rising anti-Semitism as the cause of their departure. Half of those who have decided to make Israel their home are families, 25 percent youths aged below 30 and 25 percent 55 and above. Le Nouvel Observateur reports that the Jewish Agency has already documented 25,000 French Jews who have expressed interest in effecting the Aliyah or immigration of Jews from the Diaspora to the land of Israel.

L’Express has a warning for Israel about Hamas, in the wake of Tsahal’s deadly military operation in Gaza. Even though they are defeated the Palestinian organization has proven its capacity to use more and more sophisticated means, missiles, and a network of tunnels which will continue to be a threat to Israel’s security.

Here are the figures Le Point says the Elysée is trying to hide from the French people. They are about the budget deficit which is set to reach 4.4 percent of the GDP this year. For the right-wing magazine, the counter performance is worse than the figures of 2013 and is bound to aggravate Prime Minister Manuel Valls’ migraine as France is set to default on her obligations to meet the 3 percent European deficit ceiling by 2015.

Le Canard Enchaîné reports that Manuel Valls confided in a journalist working for the right-wing Le Figaro magazine about the sorry state of the economy. According to the satirical weekly he told her that he is due to fly to Berlin on September 22 to prostrate before German Chancellor Angela Merkel so she can grant France a little more flexibility in the application of the budget stability pact.

President François Hollande will probably seek solace in the astronomical figures of Europe’s public debt. Le Point reports that it had been expected to exceed the 9 trillion euros in the first quarter of 2014 and indeed it did and stood at 9,055 billion by March, according to the right-wing publication citing figures from Eurostat. The agency says the increase over 2013 figures is 262 billion euros progressing from 92.5 per cent last year to almost 94 this mid year with Portugal, Italy both reeling under debt burdens of over 130 percent of their GDP the dunces of the European class.

Dossier: War in Mali

Is François Hollande a solitary righter of wrongs in Africa? That’s the impression Le Canard Enchaîné says it has when it scrutinizes the French President’s decision to set up a Barkhane military taskforce. The mechanism which was on the agenda of Hollande’s umpteenth mission to Africa is aimed at addressing the terrorist and Jihadist threat undermining its strategic interests in Sub Saharan Africa, notably in Niger, Mali, and the Central African Republic. According to Le Canard, Hollande came to office vowing to get the Françafrique dispensation out of his way. Now, abandoned by his European allies, Hollande is forced to assume the dangerous and ruinous role of a former colonial power all alone.

Marianne says Hollande would be defeated had the next presidential race been held today. A new poll published by the left-leaning weekly leaves Hollande struggling behind National Front leader Marine Le Pen set to win with 26 percent while ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy is second at 25. The left all political stripes was credited with a mere 30 percent of voting intentions, in the IFOP survey, the most catastrophic showing of the left in French political history, according to Marianne.

The left has lost the respect of the people, and the conservatives, says Marianne. For the journal the problem is more about a moral public crisis than anything else.

Ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy is once more the topic of another colourful article in this week’s Marianne. The left-wing publication reveals that he earned 100,000 euros for an address he made at an economic forum held recently in Congo Brazzaville. The weekly observes that while the judges will probably have nothing to say about the pay check if he declared it as part of his wages, he definitely will need the money to pay the lawyers defending him in a string of court cases.

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