Macron tells PM France will adopt definition of anti-Semitism mentioning Israel
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Macron tells PM France will adopt definition of anti-Semitism mentioning Israel

Netanyahu’s office says French president promised to adopt the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism, which includes expressions of anti-Zionism

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Vel d'Hiv roundup in Paris on July 16, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Kamil Zihnioglu)
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Vel d'Hiv roundup in Paris on July 16, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Kamil Zihnioglu)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday amid a recent spate of anti-Semitic incidents in France.

During the phone call, Macron told Netanyahu that France would adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

The PMO noted that the definition, which was at the center of a bitter dispute in Britain’s Labour Party last year, includes expressions of anti-Zionism.

Macron had received praise from President Reuven Rivlin earlier in the day for his stance on anti-Semitism in France.

Macron was set attend a dinner later Wednesday with French Jewish leaders, where he would announce new measures to fight the flare-up in anti-Semitic incidents.

On a visit Tuesday to a cemetery in the Alsace region, near Germany, where 96 Jewish tombstones were spray-painted with blue and yellow swastikas, Macron promised: “We shall act, we shall pass laws, we shall punish.”

French President Emmanuel Macron looks at a grave vandalized with a swastika during a visit at the Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim, on February 19, 2019, on the day of nationwide marches against a rise in anti-Semitic attacks. (Frederick FLORIN / POOL / AFP)

His visit came as thousands of people took part in rallies around France to condemn a recent spike in anti-Jewish crimes, which Macron and his government has linked in part to anti-Semitic elements within the “yellow vest” protest movement.

At the Tuesday rallies, former French presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy joined Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Republic Plaza at one of the main events, the theme of which was “That’s enough.”

Macron also went to the Shoah Memorial, a Holocaust museum in Paris, to observe a moment of silence with parliament leaders.

“Every time a French person, because he or she is Jewish, is insulted, threatened — or worse, injured or killed — the whole Republic” is attacked, Macron said at a news conference in Paris ahead of the rallies.

Macron’s visit to the vandalized Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim, a small town in the northeastern Alsace region, came several hours before the rallies. He said he felt shame at the sight of the defaced grave markers.

Additional anti-Semitic graffiti was found Wednesday in a suburb of Lyon that included two reversed swastikas in red spray-paint on the stele with the inscription: “Shoa blabla,” according to an AFP photographer.

At the foot of the monument, another swastika was affixed, accompanied by another phrase referencing the Holocaust.

A swastika and the words ‘Shoa blabla’ at the ‘Jardin du Souvenir’ (Garden of Memories), in the Champagne-au-Mont-d’Or cemetery on February 20, 2019. (JEFF PACHOUD / AFP)

France is home to the world’s largest Jewish population outside Israel and the United States.

Among the incidents sparking worries of renewed anti-Semitism was a torrent of hate speech directed at Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut during a Saturday march by yellow vest protesters.

French Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut is targeted by yellow vest protesters shouting anti-Semitic slogans, Paris, February 16, 2019. (Screen grab via Yahoo)

On Wednesday, Rivlin also called Finkielkraut, telling him he wanted “to send you my full support after the wicked and hurtful attack you suffered.”

According to Rivlin’s office, he told the philosopher, who was berated to go “back to Tel Aviv,” that the attack was “a shocking reminder that anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activity are irretrievably linked. The world must fight this relentlessly and without compromise.”

In other recent incidents, swastika graffiti was found on street portraits of Simone Veil — a survivor of Nazi death camps and a European Parliament president who died in 2017. The word “Juden” was painted on the window of a bagel restaurant in Paris, and two trees planted at a memorial honoring a young Jewish man tortured to death by an anti-Semitic gang in 2006 were vandalized, and one cut down.

The French government reported a large increase in anti-Semitism last year: 541 registered incidents, up 74% from 311 in 2017.

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