French National Assembly
French National AssemblyiStock

The European Jewish Congress (EJC) warmly welcomed the discussions in the French Parliament on how to criminalize anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism. Sylvain Maillard, from President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party, who chairs a 30-member cross-party study group on antisemitism in the French National Assembly, held a debate on what type of legislation should be used to make anti-Zionism an offence.

“We absolutely welcome this discussion and hope to see it lead to concrete action because it is clear that the overwhelming majority of those who claim to be anti-Zionist use it merely as a cover for their anti-Semitism,” Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the EJC, said. “We are, of course, making a huge differentiation between completely legitimate criticism of Israel and its policies, and singling out and isolating the Jewish people as not being allowed to express its right to self-determination and to live in its national homeland.”

“Anti-Zionists never claim that any other nation on earth, apart from the Jewish State, should be dismantled or is illegitimate so it is clear that this meets any standard of delegitimization, demonization and double-standards.”

The debate in the French Parliament comes in the wake of a wave of attacks against Jews and Jewish symbols and institutions in France, like the daubing of swastikas on Jewish tombstones in Alsace, the firing of shots at a synagogue in Paris, the defacing of the image of Holocaust survivor Simone Veil and the abuse directed against Alain Finkielkraut when he was called a “dirty Zionist” by some involved in the ‘yellow vests’ demonstrations.

“Far too many think that if you substitute the word ‘Jew’ for ‘Zionist’, then you can say all manner of abusive and outrageous things, and this sleight of hand has become comprehensively acceptable,” Dr. Kantor continued. “That is why it is so important to close this gap in the law because if you can continue spreading hatred against Jews just by changing a word then you allow a loophole for hate.”

“Just as everyone understood that the Quenelle was merely a disguised Nazi salute and still violated anti-hate laws in France, so using anti-Zionism as a pretext to spread hatred of Jews should be likewise criminalized.”