The repercussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in France: from the export of physical violence to the import of symbolic violence? Paper delivered at the 9th Conference of the Association Française de Science Politique.
AbstractAt the time of the second Intifada, the rise of tensions in France, characterised for instance by an increase of anti-Semitic acts, has led some commentators to refer to the ‘import' of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although this expression is disputable, since the level of violence in France is in no way comparable to that in the Middle-East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict clearly has repercussions in France. To acknowledge this is not new. Palestinian armed groups, for example, attempted to export the conflict by committing several terrorist attacks on French soil in the 1970s and 1980s. On the other hand, Israelis led targeted operations in France, such as the assassination of Mahmoud Hamchari in 1972. However, the nature of these repercussions seems to have changed. Indeed, the current tensions are not the result of foreign fighters acting in France, but of the confrontation between French actors or groups that have been long established in France. Furthermore, these tensions have not yet gone beyond the level of symbolic violence or very low-intensity physical violence, except on some rare occasions. Therefore, we can wonder if we have evolved from a situation characterised by the ‘export' of physical violence, to one defined by an ‘import' of physical violence. A further question is to determine whether this symbolic violence may not, in turn, evolve into physical violence.