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French Government Moves to Ban Militant Jewish Defense League

Amid rising anti-Semitism from anti-Israel extremists, authorities move to ban Jewish group they say is stoking violence.
By Ari Soffer and AFP
First Publish: 7/31/2014, 1:01 PM

LDJ members demonstrate in France
LDJ members demonstrate in France
Ligue des Defense Juive

The French government is seeking to disband a militant Jewish group involved in recent clashes with pro-Palestinian activists during rallies against the Gaza offensive which turned violent, a source told AFP Thursday.

News of the mooted ban came as France's main Jewish group prepared to stage a pro-Israel gathering in Paris, in response to weeks of protests marred by clashes, arrests and anti-Semitism.

Synagogues and Jewish-owned shops have been attacked by Muslim and left-wing extremists in Paris, prompting bans on protests as authorities have struggled to get to grips with the anti-Semitic surge. In one particularly severe incident, a mob of Muslim rioters attempted to storm a synagogue in an attack likened to "Kristallnacht" by one French Jewish community leader. 

During that incident outside the Yitzhak Abarbanel synagogue, members of the Ligue de Defense Juive (LDJ) and other Jewish youths clashed with Islamists in an attempt to defend it. 

Anti-Israel groups blamed them for "provoking" the clashes, but an LDJ spokesman told Arutz Sheva they had only arrived due to the slow reaction of local police, after Islamists marched provocatively through the Jewish neighborhood and proceeded to attempt to break into the synagogue

"We are carrying out an extremely fine analysis of the law," a source close to the case told AFP, confirming a report by French newspaper Liberation of the move to disband the LDJ.

Last week Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the group's actions were "excessive" and "should be condemned".

The LDJ denies breaking French laws. It takes inspiration from the largely defunct Jewish Defense League in America, which was founded in the 1960s to protect Jews from violent anti-Semitism. The JDL was labelled a terrorist organisation by the FBI in 2001.  

It also uses the emblem of the banned Israeli Kach party - a raised fist inside a black Star of David, set against a yellow backing.

French far-left and Muslim leaders have been calling for action against the LDJ, with the French Muslim council branding it "an extremist, racist and violent association."

Establishment leaders of France's half-million strong Jewish community have clearly distanced themselves from the LDJ, insisting it has not been asked to defend French synagogues.

Anti-Semitism in France has skyrocketed in recent years, prompting a mass-exodus of French Jews, primarily to Israel. 1% of the entire French Jewish community is expected to make aliyah in 2014.