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Intervention sur l’antisémitisme à l’invitation du Centre Simon Wiesenthal et de l’ECCAR

Ce mardi 27 octobre 2020, j’ai été invité en tant que « speaker » a prendre la parole lors de la visioconférence organisée par le Centre Simon Wiesenthal et la European Coalition of Cities Against Racisme (ECCAR), sur le sujet de la montée de l’antisémitisme et les mesures qui peuvent être prises pour lutter contre cette résurgence néfaste.

J’y ai notamment présenté la résolution de lutte contre l’antisémitisme que j’ai déposé à l’Assemblée nationale et qui a été adoptée en décembre 2019. Cette résolution, élaborée par l’Alliance Internationale pour la mémoire de l’Holocauste (IHRA), en proposant une définition de travail de l’antisémitisme qui inclut l’antisionisme comme une possible forme d’antisémitisme, permettra de mieux éduquer les citoyens à la nature de l’antisémitisme au XXIème siècle.

Prise de parole en visioconférence à l’invitation du Centre Simon Wiesenthal et de l’ECCAR

Retrouvez l’entièreté de mon discours en anglais ci-joint :

« Ladies and gentlemen,

(Sorry for the delay, my appointment with the French Ministry for Europe affairs lasted longer than expected.)

First of all, I wanted to thank the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (SWC) and the European Coalition of Cities Against Racism (ECCAR) for inviting me to this conference in order to talk about the rise of antisemitism and how European Municipalities can manage to fight it back, in the context of the Covid pandemic.

This topic, as Chair of the Working Group on Antisemitism of the French National Assembly, worries me particularly. It worries me even more as antisemitism seems to grow insidiously, without the majority of citizens noticing it, except during dramatic events, such as the attack on a synagogue that bereaved Germany in October 2019.

Yet, the rise of antisemitism is a fact with which we must cope, as the latest numbers seem to prove. Indeed, antisemitic acts in France increased by 27% in 2019, after an already impressive increase of 74% in 2018.

To explain this recent rise of antisemitism among Western societies, I normally make a distinction between an old and a new form of antisemitism.

What I call « old antisemitism », is inherited from the times where Jews were ostracized in ghettos and reduced to having to perform certain specific jobs that other citizens considered dishonorable. This old antisemitism has rooted for centuries in all Western societies, to the point of becoming a deep-seated prejudice. This form of hatred reached its climax during the Holocaust and the massacre of six million European Jews, nearly two thirds of those who lived in the Old Continent at the time.

In France too, this old form of antisemitism has long existed and can still kill today, as we painfully recalled in 2006, with the case of Ilan Halimi, a young Jew that was kidnapped, tortured and then put to death by a band that would later be called « the barbaric gang « , only because of the prejudice that, because he was Jewish, his family would necessarily have money for his ransom.

This old antisemitism, our societies have fought it with determination since the Second World War, condemning all hate calls and denials of the suffering endured by the Jews. In France, for example, since 1990, the Gayssot Act condemns the denial of crimes against humanity, and states in its article 1 that: « any discrimination based on membership or non-membership of an ethnicity, nation, race or religion is forbidden « .

But alongside this traditional antisemitism, a new form of intolerance towards Jews has appeared in recent years, more insidious, more silent, through the form of antizionism.

This is the form of antisemitism that we must tackle particularly in our era, for it cannot be disputed that, behind antizionist acts, antisemitic impulses sometimes hide. 

In France, we had the example of that in 2019, when during a demonstration, a famous French philosopher of Jewish origin, Alain Finkielkraut, was insulted by the demonstrators, some of whom called him « dirty Zionist ». There is no doubt that behind the term « Zionist », what they meant was « dirty Jew »! It is also through this term that antisemitism continues to flourish on social networks, as many disguise their antisemitism as a legitimate political opposition to Israel’s policies.

Criticizing Israel and its policies is not an antisemitic act; but to deny its right to exist is undoubtedly one. Criticizing the very existence of Israel because it represents a community of Jewish citizens is equivalent to express hatred towards the entire Jewish community, as well as it is a sign of antisemitism to make the Jews collectively responsible for the policies put in place by the Israeli authorities.

Words have meaning, and, by letting such hatred develop through the false appearance of a political opinion, we would only let antisemitism flourish in our cities and even among our most educated citizens.

And so, it appeared important to me, in order to open the eyes of citizens to the new form of antisemitism, to call antizionism by its name, as president Emmanuel Macron said himself in one of his speeches in February 2019. That is why I submitted to the French National Assembly a resolution proposal aimed to fight this new form of antisemitism by adopting the working definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which clearly designates antizionism as a form of antisemitism.

This definition is worded as follows: “Antisemitism is a certain perception

of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

This resolution was approved by the French National Assembly in December 2019. Its purpose is now to serve as an educational base for our judges, policemen and teachers, in order to educate about the various forms of antisemitism that exist in our society.

And so, by adopting such a resolution, by pointing to antizionism as one of the modern forms of antisemitism, I believe that we will be now able to fight more effectively against the new antisemitism of the twenty-first century, which no longer dares to say its name, but which still have as its sole source the hatred of Jews.

But our work to fight antisemitism is an endless one, and I have no illusion on the fact that more decisive actions such as this resolution are needed in order to counter hatred towards the Jew in France and abroad. And it is because this fight against antisemitism is a global one, that I wanted so much to be present to talk in front of you today. Thank you. »

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