Eric Zemmour
Eric Zemmour Reuters

The Annual CRIF (Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions) dinner is usually attended by the President of France, but on 24 February, President Macron was unable to attend, due to an emergency European meeting on the Ukraine/Russia crisis.

At the meeting, the Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, discussed the Amnesty International issue and the ongoing BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign targeting Israel and the Jews, with French Prime Minister, Jean Castex.

Castex then took the podium to apologize for President Macron’s absence, then following with a powerful praise of Israel.

Four days later, in a Parliamentary session on Ukraine, again outstanding he stated: "Putin lied to President Macron... He lied to the international community... He lied to his own people..."

"President Zelensky is not a neo-Nazi... But Putin is a liar."

Samuels then discussed with French Interior Minister, Gerard Darmanin, the issue of physical insecurity of Jewish institutions in France, including in synagogues, schools, cemeteries and other community institutions. Samuels raised the importance of the IHRA Definition of antisemitism as an instrument for wider adoption.

On Friday 25 February, in the lead up to elections across France on 10 and 24 April, graffiti attacking candidate Eric Zemmour crossed a red line: The words, "Dirty Jew" were splashed over the poster reading, "Eric Zemmour 2022," and his party slogan, "Not Impossible to Be French." Another of his posters was painted with the words, "Public Urinal for Profit."

Zemmour, a journalist from an Algerian Jewish family, is a questionable candidate for President of France. He is unacceptable to the mainstream Jewish voter, due to his comments exonerating the Vichy Nazi collaborator, General Petain.

He also insists that of the over 70,000 Jews deported to their deaths, most were foreigners, downplaying the relevance of the Shoah for France.

However, Samuels stressed that, "Despite Zemmour’s other hateful positions, an anti-Semitic attack on him cannot be acceptable... It is ironic that such inscriptions were found in the outskirts of Vichy."