Jack Lang. I am happy that the King of Morocco is providing humanitarian support to the people of Gaza

Liberation: Unfortunately, we cannot escape the news from the Middle East. I know that you have done a lot for the Palestinian question, so that Arafat can meet François Mitterrand and for peace in the region. Today, in the face of the terror of the bombs, we are witnessing the powerlessness and division of the United Nations over a peaceful solution. What could France do to establish peace between Palestinians and Israelis? Jack Lang: I would like it, I would like it, France…. what I can regret is that the European Union is doing nothing. However, it brings a material contribution on the spot, in particular in Palestine. But she is not capable of taking a powerful and strong initiative. It is a real subject, there are quite large differences of appreciation between the countries of Europe. I understood that President Macron was very concerned about the situation. Today, we are living through terrible moments of confrontation and suffering. Since you are a journalist in a Moroccan newspaper, I must say that as a friend of Morocco, I am happy that the King of Morocco is providing humanitarian support to the people of Gaza. Morocco offers a fine example of international solidarity. We would like other countries to follow this example. Your book, “A cultural revolution, said and written” evokes the specific relationship that you created with President François Mitterrand, which resulted in a revolution in cultural life in France with a policy favorable to artists. It was a prosperous period because we wanted it, deeply wanted it with President Mitterrand. The period was good not because the sky would have given us, I do not know what support (laughs). It is a collective will of the French people, of artists, of creators, of the President of the Republic, of his ticket to culture, to give culture a central place. He wanted to devote significant resources to it and imagine a powerful and emblematic project. This is what this book shows through the exchanges of letters between François Mitterrand and myself. It was a daily struggle. Today, will there be a cultural new deal as you demanded from President Emmanuel Macron to breathe new life into culture? Here again this book, composed of unpublished archives, publishes the letter that I sent to President Macron a year ago. I suggested that he imagine a cultural new deal to get out of the current crisis. A crisis is both a catastrophe and possibly a springboard for being able to act, imagine and invent. My deep feeling is that the French public authorities, this also applies to other countries, should “seize by the hair” this situation to conceive of a complete overhaul of the policy of culture and education, universities and Scientific Research. Do you have any regrets about the cultural policy you pursued during François Mitterrand’s two terms of office? Do you think, for example, that you have succeeded in democratizing culture, in facilitating access to it for the working classes? Have you arrived at the end of your project? The movement that we have started has reached all the cities of France, all the departments of France and all the regions of France. The first of the inequalities in France, and perhaps in other countries, is geographical. When we arrived in positions of responsibility in 1981, France was, apart from Paris, a cultural desert, so we created centers of life all over the country. This then led to people from all walks of life coming in. We got bad information from the Parisian press on these subjects. We must question the provincial press, the regions. For example, we have created libraries, art centers and music houses in all working-class neighborhoods. There were also events, such as the music festival and others that brought the whole people together. Of course, there is still a long way to go. I also believe that it goes through a struggle, it goes less through the Ministry of Culture than through economic and social policy. Should we ask culture to solve the situation of several million poor people? The poor unfortunately are sometimes even poorer in the current crisis. They would like to enjoy the benefits of culture, but unfortunately the government does not care. There is also the question of education. Absolutely, and this is the reason why when I was Minister of National Education, I introduced art and culture in education, in school programs, in teacher training. Art and culture had become almost obligatory for everyone across the country. The first democratization is here: to give every child in the country the opportunity to access art and culture at school. If we do not fundamentally change our education system, this democratization will not happen. Morocco is a country whose cultural policy you follow. What would you say today? There are remarkable things that have been done since the accession of His Majesty King Mohammed VI to the throne, such as heritage restoration. Today, I see that all over the country, monuments are being restored or rehabilitated. A whole museum policy has been initiated by Mr. Mehdi Kotbi: the construction of the Mohammed VI Museum in Rabat but also throughout the country the opening of other museums: the Musée des Confluences in Marrakech, His Majesty announced the creation a museum of Judaism in Fez and there are a lot of other projects in the works. I really believe that Morocco is on a good track and there is certainly still some things to do. The current Minister of Culture is very active and I do not forget that His Majesty is an extremely cultured man, passionate about art, architecture and history. Morocco is today a country which has extraordinary treasures in its towns and villages. Its popular culture is very rich. My last question will relate to the program of the Arab World Institute from May 15 to September 26. It presents an exhibition on female singers from the “golden age” of Arabic song, such as Oum Kalthoum. Why this choice ? The divas of the Arab world, like Oum Kalthoum, Fayrouz, Warda, Dalida, among others, are numerous. They offer us a musical and cinematographic journey through this extraordinary period, during which these women not only revealed the power and the beauty of their voices but they also campaigned for the emancipation of women. What is the effect of the health crisis on culture? It is very damaging because many artists in Morocco or elsewhere, in France, find themselves in serious situations of distress. Of course, all populations are affected, but artists and creators are the great victims. The end of the pandemic will perhaps create a feeling of liberation, emancipation and give the chance for creators to bounce back and I think that in this new period, citizens will want to find beauty in all its forms. Paris. Interview by Youssef Lahlali