(December 3, 2019 / JNS) France’s National Assembly in Paris on Tuesday passed a nonbinding resolution that stated that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism and called on countries to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism.
The final vote tally in the lower chamber was 154-72.
“For some years now, France, the whole of Europe, but also almost all Western democracies are facing a rise in antisemitism,” states the resolution, which was proposed by Sylvain Maillard, chair of the assembly’s Antisemitism Study Group. “Anti-Zionist acts can at times hide antisemitic realities. Hate toward Israel due to its perception as a Jewish collective is akin to hatred toward the entire Jewish community.”
According to the IHRA definition, “anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz, the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel all lauded the resolution’s passage.
“I welcome the decision of the French parliament to adopt the definition of anti-Semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA),” he said in a statement. “The adoption of the resolution confirms [French] President [Emmanuel] Macron’s remarks that anti-Zionism is the new face of anti-Semitism. This is an important step in the struggle against anti-Semitism, and I call on other countries to follow in France’s footsteps.”
“The National Assembly’s endorsement of the working definition is a very welcome and significant boost to France’s determination to recognize the dangers to our society of rising anti-Semitism and to more effectively fight hatred of Jews in all its forms,” said AJC Paris director Anne-Sophie Sebban-Bécache.
“The urgent need for education on anti-Semitism, to recognize it and mobilize to confront it, is paramount,” she added. “It is essential now that government, civil society, faith and other leaders use the working definition in the fight against anti-Semitism.”
“Hate toward Israel due to its perception as a Jewish collective is akin to hatred toward the entire Jewish community.”
“We, as the representatives of the global Jewish people, applaud and salute the French National Assembly and the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, on their historic decision that is a moral beacon against antisemitism and hatred of Israel,” said Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog in a statement. “The homeland of Emile Zola, who led the fight against antisemitism, is standing tall in supporting the right to live a Jewish life without fear, and in unequivocal support of Zionism and the State of Israel.”
In an open letter to National Assembly president Richard Ferrand in October, 39 organizations warned against passing the resolution.
They argued that a separate definition of anti-Semitism would “weaken the universalist approach” to combating all forms of racism, as well as compromise the “defense of freedom of expression and assembly for groups and activists that must be allowed to defend the rights of Palestinians and criticize Israel’s policy without being falsely accused of anti-Semitism.”
Among those who signed the letter was Malik Salemkour, president of France’s Human Rights League, which was founded in 1898 to combat the anti-Semitic persecution and trial of French-Jewish army captain Alfred Dreyfus.
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