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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Le Nouvel Observateur’

Anti-Semitism Sweeping France

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Early this month, the French weekly magazine Le Nouvel Observateur devoted a cover article and several other articles to the phenomenon of the rising anti-Semitism in France. The magazine referred to several incidents of anti-Jewish violence during the previous weeks. The Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) keeps track of anti-Semitic incidents. In the last decade, the number rose well above 300 incidents per year. In 2010, there were 466 incidents. In 2011, there were 389. However, 2012 will break the record. During the first five months of 2012, already 268 incidents of hatred against Jews have been reported. In certain neighborhoods of Paris, Marseille or Lyons it is no longer safe for Jews to walk the streets.

Young Jews in particular are made to suffer for their Jewishness. Le Nouvel Observateur relates how Elie M., a 12-year old Jewish Parisian, told his parents that he wants to have his name changed because he is being called “dirty Jew” at school.

On 26 March, an 11-year old Jewish boy was hit in the face in front of his school in Paris by a man who was screaming “Dirty Jew.” That same day, in the Rhone Valley, youths threw stones at a rabbi. On 30 April, two Jewish boys were beaten up in Marseille by an aggressor shouting: “We support the Palestinians. You will be killed, you will be exterminated.” On 8 June, a Jewish adolescent was beaten up by three youths who were shouting anti-Semitic insults. In early June, three Jews were attacked by a gang who hit one of the Jews on the head with a hammer.

On 5 July, the very day that the Nouvel Observateur was published, a 17-year old Jew was beaten up in a train near Toulouse because he was wearing a necklace with a Star of David. The aggressors were two 18-year old Frenchmen of North African origin who had just applied to join the French army. The victim was a student at the same Jewish school where last March the jihadist Mohammed Merah murdered a rabbi and three children.

Mohammed Merah, the Nouvel Observateur points out, has become a role model for many young French of Islamic origin. In many French schools, incidents occurred while a minute of silence was being observed for the victims of the Jewish school in Toulouse. Iannis Roder, a teacher of history and geography in Saint-Denis near Paris, confirmed in the magazine that anti-Semitism is rising in French schools and that almost always the anti-Jewish venom is coming from Islamic youths. As soon as the Holocaust is mentioned in class, or whenever lessons deal with a historic French figure who is Jewish, such as Léon Blum, Muslim pupils start making anti-Jewish remarks.

While the culprits of anti-Semitic acts are predominantly Muslims, analysts point out that there are some unsettling similarities with the European anti-Semitism of the 1930s. As then, anti-Semitism goes hand in hand with anti-Americanism. As then, the Jews are depicted as rich and powerful capitalists who manipulate the media and rule the world through their money — a bizarre assertion when one considers that today Arab plutocrats control so many Western media outlets.

According to Muslim youths interviewed by the Nouvel Observateur, of every meal bought at McDonalds one euro is paid by McDonalds to the Israeli army. Coca Cola, too, is part of the Americo-Jewish plot as its logo, when read from back to front, allegedly reads: “No to Allah, no to the Prophet.” This information, they claim, is well known, although it will never be heard on French television because French television “belongs to the Jews.”

Because of the rising anti-Semitism, many Jews no longer send their children to public shools. The number of children in Jewish schools has increased to 30,000 and is growing every year. Many of the 600,000 Jews in France no longer feel safe in the country. “People ask themselves whether they should stay,” says Sammy Ghozlan of the National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, a French Jewish organization. Young Jews dream of a safer future in the United States or Israel.

Unfortunately, the situation in other West European countries is grimly similar to that in France. Last month, the Italian journalist Giulio Meotti wrote an article about the plight of the Jews in Italy. He described how synagogues and Jewish schools in Rome are protected by cameras, metal detectors, security guards and police officers, while their windows are plumbed with iron grates like the Jewish homes of Hebron and the schools of Sderot.

France Penalizes Boycott of Israeli Products

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Last May, the Cour de Cassation, the Supreme Court of France, ruled that calls for a boycott of Israeli products constitute discrimination and as such are illegal under French law.

The verdict was the final ruling in a legal battle that went on for years. On 9 July 2005, exactly seven years ago, the Palestinian Authority called for a worldwide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign against the Jewish State. In February 2009, following the Gaza War in the winter of 2008-2009, several leftist and pro-Palestinian organizations in France convened to organize a French BDS campaign. The activists target French and international corporations that do business in Israel, French branches of Israeli companies, and supermarkets selling Israeli products.

Supermarkets are raided by commando units who block the entrances or storm the premises in order to remove the Israeli products or label them with stickers stating that Israel is an “apartheid state.” Often the raids are videotaped and posted on YouTube. The French revolutionary Left considers BDS to be a huge political success. The BDS actions attract a lot of support from Muslims youths from the suburbs surrounding the French cities. It is the first time since the 1960s and 70s that the French Left has been able to mobilize large numbers of youths.

BDS activists have succeeded in intimidating a number of supermarkets to remove Israeli products from their shelves, movie theaters to stop programming Israeli movies, and universities to cancel lectures by Israeli citizens. The lectures were boycotted simply because of their nationality and their Jewish religion; not for the opinions they personally might have held about Israeli politics.

Soon after the BDS raids began, the French Bureau National de Vigilance Contre l’Antisémitisme (National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism), a Jewish organization that was founded in 2002, started to lodge complaints against BDS at courts all over France. Sometimes the courts went along with the complaints, sometimes they did not.

In February 2010, the penal court of Bordeaux convicted Saquina Arnaud-Khimoun for labeling Israeli products with the sticker “Boycott Apartheid Israel.” The court ruled that she had “hindered the normal exercise of economic activities by making a distinction on the basis of nationality.” The French anti-discrimination act of 1981 prohibits “incitment to discrimination, hatred or violence against a person or a group of persons on the basis of descent, ethnicity and nationality or the fact whether or not one belongs to a race or a religion.” Arnaud-Khimoun was sentenced to a fine of €1,000 ($1,230). In October 2010, the Appeals Court of Bordeaux reaffirmed the verdict.

However, in July 2011, a court in Paris acquitted Olivia Zémor, a member of the group EuroPalestine, for posting a video on the internet showing Palestinian and French activists wearing t-shirts calling for a boycott of Israel. Zémor was brought to court by four organizations, including the Israeli Chamber of Commerce.

The Paris court ruled that calling for the boycott of Israeli products is not prohibited under French law. The tribunal said that “Criticism of a State or its policies cannot be regarded, in principle, as infringing the rights or dignity of its nationals, without seriously affecting freedom of expression in a world now globalized, whose civil society has become a major actor, and since no ‘criminal offence against a Foreign State’ has ever been established under substantive law or international common law, because this would be contrary to the commonly accepted standard of freedom to express opinions.”

The court added that “Since the call of a boycott of Israeli products is formulated by a citizen for political motives and is part of a political debate relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – a debate concerned with a matter of general interest with international significance – the offence of incitement to discrimination, based on the fact of belonging to a Nation, is not constituted.” Moreover, the court pointed out, “certain sectors of Israeli opinion support the BDS call.” In this regard, it explicitly referred to the declaration of the Israeli Women’s Coalition for Peace.

The verdict in the Zémor case encouraged Arnaud-Khimoun in her decision to bring her case to the French Supreme Court. On 22 May, however, the French Cour de Cassation reaffirmed that publicly calling for the boycott of Israeli products is a case of incitement to discrimination on the basis of nationality.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/france-penalizes-boycott-of-israeli-products/2012/07/12/

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