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June 28, 1991 - Image 35

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-06-28

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Scent Of Scandal

The head of L'Oreal's U.S.
affiliate is accused of
committing crimes against Jews
in Paris during World War II.


Foreign Correspondent


nasty smell has
enveloped the House
of L'Oreal, the giant
French cosmetics corpora-
tion, over allegations that
the head of its $1 billion
United States affiliate,
Cosmair, perpetrated crimes
against Jews in Paris during
World War II.
There is now growing
pressure on the U.S. Justice
Department to initiate ac-
tion which will lead to the
expulsion of Cosmair chair-

man Jacques Correze, 79, a
French citizen and perma-
nent resident of the United
Documents relating to the
wartime activities of Mr.
Correze in the pro-Nazi
Mouvement Social Revolu-
tionnaire (MSR), an anti-
Semitic group formed by
L'Oreal founder Eugene
Schueller, have been sent to
the Office of Special In-
vestigations, a branch of the
U.S. Justice Department.
Mr. Correze was also ac-
tive in the anti-Semitic La
Communaute Francaise,
which he joined on June 7,

1941. The stated aims of this
group included the identifi-
cation and expropriation of
all Jews in France.
Spearheading the cam-
paign against Mr. Correze is
French attorney and Nazi-
hunter Serge Klarsfeld, who
says the documents he has
obtained prove that the self-
styled "Colonel" Correze
was directly involved in the
Specifically, Mr. Correze is
alleged to have orchestrated
and, in some cases, to have
personally participated in
evicting Jews from their
homes and offices in order to

How The Boycott Hurts

The L'Oreal scandal has
focused attention on the
thorny subject of the Arab
boycott and the ways in
which it affects Israel's
trade prospects, par-
ticularly with its largest
single trading partner,
the European Commun-
The Arab Boycott Of-
fice, which was created in
the Syrian capital of
Damascus when Israel
was established in 1948,
operates on three basic

• The "primary
boycott" involves a total
ban on trade between
Arab countries and Israel;
• The "secondary
boycott" involves a ban on
trade between Arab states
and foreign companies
which deal with Israel;
• The "tertiary
boycott" prohibits trade
between Arab countries
and foreign companies
which deal with other
companies which are on
the boycott list.
A fourth, less publiciz-
ed, element in the boycott
is more blatantly anti-
Semitic. This involves a
ban on dealings with
companies which have
Jewish directors, as well
as with individuals,
groups, the media and the
entertainment industry

which have established
Jewish connections.
While Arab leaders
have recently indicated to
Secretary of State James
Baker that they may be
prepared to relax the
boycott, a meeting of the
Boycott Office in Baghdad
last month added 110
companies to its list.
Of these, 104 are linked
to London-based Jewish
publishing tycoon Robert
Maxwell, who recently
acquired the New York
Daily News and who also
owns five British national
newspapers and has a
major shareholding in two
Israeli newspapers.
The boycott has had se-
rious implications for the
Israeli economy. Accor-
ding to Israeli Treasury
estimates, the boycott
costs the Israeli economy
about $100 million a year
in higher-priced imports,
lost exports and lost busi-
ness opportunities.
In addition, about 10
percent in foreign in-
vestments are thought to
be lost each year as a
result of the boycott.
These handicaps have
been magnified by the
urgent need for Israel's
economy to expand by
some 10 percent a year
over the next five years to
absorb the one million
Soviet immigrants who

are expected by the end of
the decade.
The boycott has proved
to be less effective in the
United States, where
tough anti-boycott
legislation is buttressed
by vigorous enforcement,
than in the European
Community, where mem-
ber-states have introduc-
ed anti-boycott legislation
but failed to enforce it.
The Gulf war, however,
has changed the political
climate. The Europeans
are anxious to have a role
in any future Israeli-Arab
peace process and Israel,
in acceding to that role, is
demanding wide-ranging
trade and economic con-
"We believe we can
fight the boycott on strict-
ly commercial grounds,"
says Mr. Ben Gil, the
British-born director of a
pro-Israel, Brussels-based
lobby organization, the
European Committee of
Jewish Information.
"Israel is small, but
Israelis are great con-
sumers and the Euro-
peans are watching close-
ly as Japanese companies
enter the Israeli market,"
he adds. "We are confi-
dent that we are going to
get this problem lick-

Helen Davis

Artwork from Newsday by Bob Nawnwn. Copyrktn. 1990, Newsdn/. Distnbuted by Los An.les Times

create recruiting offices and
operational bases for the
MSR in Paris during 1941.
Among those allegedly
evicted from his apartment
at the instigation of Mr. Cor-
reze was former French
Interior Minister Georges
According to Mr.
Klarsfeld, who was in-
strumental in bringing to
trial the former Gestapo
chief, Klaus Barbie, the
documents contain the
MSR's official hour-by-hour
account of the evictions.
Before the war, Mr. Cor-
reze was a member of yet
another fascist underground
movement, La Cagoule (The
Hood), which was financed
by Franco's Spain,
Mussolini's Italy and by
L'Oreal founder Eugene
Mr. Correze was
implicated in several polit-
ical murders during his
association with La Cagoule,
including the 1937 killings
of Carlo and Nello Rosselli,
two Italian anti-fascist refu-
gees in France.
He was arrested following
the liberation of France in
1944 and four years later
received two concurrent 10-
year jail terms for his role in
the Rosselli killings and for
collaborating with the
In 1950, Mr. Correze was
released from jail and the
following year he and other
members of the pre-war La
Cagoule movement were
hired as salesmen by

Mr. Correze then spent
three months in Spain sell-
ing L'Oreal products before
traveling on to the United
States, where he set up
Cosmair, with himself as
chairman, to serve as a
distribution agency for
Between 1983 and 1986,
Mr. Correze negotiated the
takeover of Helena Rubins-
tein, another superstar in
the cosmetics firmament,
with an Israeli subsidiary.
- The company had already
absorbed such famous brand
names as Lancome and
Ralph Lauren, but it was the
Helena Rubinstein deal,
with its Israeli connection,
which concentrated the at-
tention of the Damascus-
based Arab Boycott Office.
Mr. Correze recently ad-
mitted on French television
that he had belonged to pro-
Nazi movements and that he
had fought as a volunteer in
German uniform on the Rus-
sian front.
But in an interview with
the leading French daily Le
Monde, he denied that he
had participated in actions
against French Jews, an
assertion which prompted
the newspaper to remark:
"Mr. Correze, to say the
least, has convenient lapses
of memory."
The recent scandal explod-
ed after Jean Frydman, the
Jewish director of a film
distribution subsidiary of
L'Oreal, was sacked by
L'Oreal, allegedly to comply
with demands by the Arab
Boycott Office.



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