In 2001, diplomat Daniel Bernard
(1941-2004) came to public attention when, as French Ambassador to the United Kingdom, he was quoted as saying:"All the current troubles in the world are because of that shitty little country Israel." The diplomat added, "Why should the world be in danger of World War III because of those people?"
Bernard was appointed French ambassador
to the United Kingdom in early 2001. According to the UK's Daily Telegraph, in December 2001, Bernard referred to Israel as "that shitty little country Israel," and blamed it for all the troubles in the world. The remark was reported to have taken place during a conversation with Conrad Black
of the Daily Telegraph
at a private dinner party Black was hosting. Bernard's comment was then later repeated in an article written by Black's wife, Barbara Amiel
, in the Daily Telegraph
. Bernard's press secretary stated, "He does not deny the remarks, he just says first of all what he said was distorted.
In a letter to the Daily Telegraph
, 22 December 2001,
Bernard wrote, 'Over the past few days, I have been the subject of grave accusations because of a comment I am reported to have made during a conversation with Lord Black. The facts are: while we were discussing the Israeli-Palestinian issue, I pointed out to Lord Black that this tragedy was taking place in a geographically limited area (I even specified that it was the equivalent of three French departments) that for 40 years had been suffering from a conflict whose equitable solution seems more out of reach than ever. Of course, I never meant to insult Israel or any other part of that region. The deliberately biased presentation of this conversation in some circles, accompanied by malicious accusations, is deeply shocking and insulting.'
The British press saw a firestorm as a result, as comment on the 23 December 2001 in the Daily Telegraph exemplifies.
One British journalist, Deborah Orr
did defend Bernard.
In contrast, the French press saw the incident radically differently, while recognising that Bernard was a flamboyant character (Le Monde 2 May 2004).
His obiturary in Le Monde in 2004 also illustrates the same points.
Bernard was reassigned to become France's ambassador to Algeria in July 2002. He died in April 2004 while serving in that post, at the age of 62.
- French envoy under fire, BBC, December 20, 2001.
- Ewen MacAskill. Israel seeks head of French envoy, Guardian UK, December 20, 2001.
- Jane Merrick. French ambassador refuses to apologize, Irish Examiner, December 20, 2001.
- Warren Hoge. "Embassy Row Scandal Consumes Fleet Street", New York Times, December 22, 2001.
- Ohad Gozani. French ambassador calls Israel 'paranoid' and Sharon 'a lout', Daily Telegraph UK, September 1, 2003.
- Daily Telegraph Obituary