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Air France-KLM rapped for in-flight reading

JTA

October 18, 2010 | 2:40 pm

The Paris-based Simon Wiesenthal Center wants an Air France-KLM affiliate to stop selling a French magazine with a cover article that the center says targets Israel.

The article featured on the front page of the Le Point weekly “targets Israel, the Jews of France and the Holocaust,” the Wiesenthal Center’s director for international relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, wrote in a letter to Air France-KLM last week.

Samuels asked Air France-KLM to take disciplinary measures and apologize for choosing the magazine for flights to and from North Africa by its low-cost affiliate Transavia.

The magazine cover headline reads “Gaza, Shoah, Jews of France—Debray’s Accusation against Israel.” An Israeli flag and a pensive portrait of the French philosopher Regis Debray are pictured.

The article, published originally in May, reviews a book by Debray that includes excerpts of the author’s work in which he claims that Israel has “never stopped colonizing and expropriating and uprooting” its Palestinian neighbors. Debray says refugees in Gaza have been victims of “brutality,” and that Israel has humiliated its neighbor while being “blinded” by the Holocaust.

It notes Debray’s criticism of French Jewish leaders for joining political protests in favor of Israel and mixing religion with politics.

The magazine issue also provides follow-up criticism of Debray’s book.

Despite publishing opposing views on Debray’s work in the same issue, Samuels says the damage is done by simply showing what he calls an inflammatory reference to the book on the magazine cover, printed on an in-flight menu, where “it has no place.”

“It concerns me that Air France chose that cover,” Samuels told JTA. “In this case it isn’t the content, it’s the subliminal message.”

The center works particularly hard to “assuage tensions” between French Jews and North Africans, Samuels said, and offering the article as in-flight reading “undermines what we’re trying to do.”

“It is like showing a movie of a plane crash during a flight,” he said.

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