France’s Cultural Suicide

France, the nation that boasts such glittering cultural treasures as the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and l’Arc de Triomphe now has a new tourist attraction: a museum exhibit dedicated to Palestinian suicide bombers.

That’s right. The Jeu de Paume Museum of Contemporary Art, a state-subsidized art institution in Paris, opened an exhibit on May 28 titled “Death.” The exhibit consists of 68 photographs taken of suicide bombers who, the museum says, “lost their lives fighting the occupation.” Many of the bombers featured in the photographs taken by Ahlam Shibli belonged to organizations such as the al-Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades, a group labeled by the EU as a terrorist organization.

Giving such honor to indiscriminate murderers of innocent Jewish men, women and children is an obscenity and another blot on a nation that has never quite confronted its complicity in, and responsibility for, the murder of French Jews during the Holocaust.

Puffing with Gallic indignation, officials of the French Cultural Ministry defended the exhibit as the artistic expression of a single artist, which didn’t represent the views of the museum.

Such a disclaimer is as a phony as a wax figure at Madame Tussauds. Would the French be satisfied with a similar explanation if Germany built a monument honoring the Gestapo who executed French Resistance fighters and French civilians? Four French Nationals died in the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center at the hands of Saudi suicide bombers. Perhaps the Jeu de Paume should have an exhibit honoring those Saudi “freedom fighters.” We wouldn’t be surprised if a plan is in the works to have a similar exhibit glorifying the martyrdom of Boston Marathon bombers.

Honoring suicide bombers should be entirely antithetical to the culture of France, a nation that prides itself on being the birthplace of European humanistic values. Humanism elevates the value of human life, while suicide bombers denigrate not only the value of the lives of their innocent victims, but their own as well. It’s bizarre that France, now facing the threat of suicide bombers in its conflict in Mali, would permit an exhibit that glorifies the terrorism its troops are facing in the West African nation.

That the French allowed such an exhibit in the first place is incomprehensible, a disgrace and an outrage. This is not art, but hideousness and a thinly painted veneer over anti-Semitism. To save face and send a proper message to terrorists, the French Cultural Ministry should shutter the presentation immediately and replace it with a solemn memorial to those who suffered at the hands of suicide murderers.