This thing got a lot of attention from US rightist blogs. I was rather puzzled why would do something like that, no credible explanations were advanced. Now, via Mark Kleiman, I learn it was apparently all wrong. Should have guessed.
Remember Jacques Chirac’s intervention in support of Mahathir Mohammed’s anti-Semitic rantings? The one condemned here, as throughout the blogosphere? Well, it seems not to have happened.
The story appears to be as follows. After Mahathir Mohammed’s speech at the OIC summit, it was proposed that a condemnation be inserted in the final report of a meeting of EU chiefs of state. But EU procedures don’t provide for such statements in those reports. Instead, a statement was made, on behalf of the EU, in a formal address by Silvio Berlusconi, who holds the rotating presidency. (The irony of a politician elected with neofascist support denouncing someone else for anti-Semitism was, one assumes, passed over in decent silence.)
But newspaper reports suggesting that Chirac had somehow supported Mahathir Mohammed by suggesting that the condemnation be part of the Berlusconi address rather than the conference report were immediately seized on by Israeli politicians, who have good reason to be annoyed at Chirac on other grounds, and by some Jews in the U.S. including professional kvetch Abraham Foxman of the ADL. That gave the Maylasian prime minister the opportunity, which he quickly seized, to pretend that Chirac was supporting his views.
However, Chirac (unlike another G8 Chief of State I can think of, who waited longer to speak out and chose to hide behind a spokesman in issuing a rather tepid statement that the remarks in question were “divisive and wrong,”) wrote a prompt and fairly tough letter to Mahathir Mohammed, telling him that his remarks had “attracted strong disapproval, not only in France but throughout the world,” and telling him that despite his government’s rejection of claims of anti-Semitism, he remarks “could not but be condemned by those who preserve the memory of the Holocaust.”