Sunday, January 23, 2011


Earlier this month, I wrote about the 93 year young best selling French Author, Philosopher, Humanist, Diplomat. Stephane Hessel.
His pamphlet, Indignez-Vous (Cry Out!) is still the best selling book in France with sales bordering on 1 million copies now. It should be published in English shortly and here is a link full of quotes from his little book in English.
I wrote a little of Hessels background, born, a German Jew, in Berlin in 1917. His family moved to France and became a focal point of the literary and art world of the 20's and 30's. 
He became involved in the French Resistance during WW2 and was an aide to DeGaulle. He was captured twice, scheduled to be executed and escaped both times.
He went on to be one of the authors of the Declaration Of Human Rights with Eleanor Roosevelt and has held the post as an "Ambassador of France" and worked as a diplomat for many years.
His outspoken defense of the Palestinian Cause and the Human Rights of the Palestinian people has made him a lightning rod of protest by the pro Israeli lobby here in France. 
Hessel is a wonderful, lively intelligent and eloquent human. His life has been heroic, burt in spite of his accomplishments, he remains a truly humble man who has never abandoned his ideals. 
Last week he was scheduled to speak at the Ecole Normale-Superior, which is the premier philosophical school in France. At the last minute, the pro Israeli lobby working with President Sarkozy's Government, managed to pressure the cancellation of this very publicized and important event, using the excuse that his criticism of Israel was a form of persecution. Needless to say, Indignez-Vous very popularity is a huge embarrassment to the government. The book is extremely critical of the present government and the methods of the Presidents UMP Party which is seen as the real reason for the cancellation.
Of course, the ensuing brouhaha only succeeded in boosting Hessel's book sales and popularity.
he French political whistle blowing website, Mediapart has just published an in depth interview with Hessel and here is a link for the English translation of the interview
In the fascinating interview, Hessel speaks of his childhood. He learned to play chess from Marcel Duchamp. His parents were the couple that provided the subject matter for Francois Truffauts great film, Jules and Jim, and that is just the beginning of his remarkable story.

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