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August 30, 1985 - Image 13

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-08-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Friday, August 30, 1985 13

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Playing Politics
With Stone

Paris (JTA) — Three famous
Jews, all of whom have been
dead for years, have become the
center of a public controversy in
France. The French Minister for
Culture has commissioned
statues of Leon Blum, Pierre
Mendes-France and Alfred
Dreyfus but has not yet been
given permission to erect them.
The minister, Jack Lang,
charges the mayor of Paris with
obstruction, but the mayor, Jac-
ques Chirac,. says his opposition
to the chosen locales is due
strictly to technical and munici-
pal reasons.
The statue of Blum, who
served twice as French Prime
Minister, first as head of the
Popular Front before World War
II and again in 1946, was com-
missioned last year and is now
ready. Lang had planned to
have it set in the Leon Blum
Square, close to the Place de la
Republique, which is a tradi-
tional Jewish area.
Chirac, who is also one of the
main Gaullist contenders for the
presidency, has barred this plan.
The Paris City Hall says that
the entire square is currently
being redesigned in view of
massive traffic and several
building sites in the area. The
renovation will be finished in
1986, according to the city
spokesman, when the statue
could be erected.
Socialist political sources
quoted by the local press say
Chirac does not want the statue
of a Socialist leader, and one
still popuar with the masses,
grabbing attention on the eve of
next year's legislative elections.
The ten-foot high bronze statue
is already on display on a tem-
porary location in the gardens of
the Louvre Museum of National
Art.

Another controversial statue
is that dedicated to Premier
Pierre Mendes-France. Lang
wants it erected on a central
Paris Avenue, Chirac has not
yet decided where and when the
statue will be set. Mendes-
France was also a Socialist and
the current administration of
President Francois Mitterrand
often refers to him as a spiritual
and intellectual guide. The
Gaullist and centrist opposition
fears that a statue dedicated to
him would eventually benefit
the Socialist coalition.

The statue of a third Jew,
that of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus,
who was accused of high treason
and rehabilitated nearly a cen-
trury ago, is the subject of a
split between Lang and his fel-
low Defense Minister Charles
Hernu. Lang wants the statue
erected within the French mili-
tary academy, L'ecole Militaire
— whik Mernu favors the site of
the former &ale Polytechnique,
an engineering school Dreyfus

attended.

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