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February 20, 2015 1:42 pm

Major Jewish Group Calls on French President to Strip Former Minister of Légion d’Honneur for Comments About PM Valls’ Jewish Wife

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Former French foreign minister Roland Dumas (left), pictured here in 1995, said he will not apologize for saying French Prime Minister Manuel Valls is influenced by his Jewish wife. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Friday called on the president of France to strip former Foreign Minister Roland Dumas of the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest decoration, after Dumas claimed that the policies of Prime Minister Manuel Valls were influenced by his wife’s Jewishness.

Richard Odier, president of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in France, and Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Center’s Director for International Relations sent a joint letter to President Francois Hollande expressing shock at Dumas’ “antisemitic attack” last week. The former French minister said in a television interview about Valls: “Everyone knows that he is married to someone… someone very good who has an influence on him.”

When asked if he believes Valls is under Jewish influence, Dumas responded, “Probably, I think so.” He then added, “Of course [he is influenced by his wife]. Why not?” He has since refused to apologize for his remarks.

The Center said Dumas’ comments were “widely interpreted as an accusation against Valls of double loyalty, by implication, the regurgitation of a Dreyfus-style conspiracy charge of Jewish control of politicians and media.” The Center urged Hollande to invoke his authority as Grand Master and strip Dumas of the Légion d’Honneur “in accordance with Article R96, Title V:Discipline of the Order’s Code: ‘… when the awardee has committed acts contrary to the honor of France.'”

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Dumas’ “Jewish influence” attack on the prime minister is “contrary to the honor of France and tarnishes the Code of the Légion d’Honneur,” the letter also said. “Failure to act decisively can evoke the shadows of a former charge of Jewish double loyalty in France – the Dreyfus Affair revisited.”

Odier is the son of a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur and Samuels was awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by President Chirac in 2007. Both men reminded Hollande that he stripped British fashion designer John Galliano of his Légion d’Honneur after he made antisemitic remarks. Following the death of Maurice Papon, who was convicted for deporting 1,600 Jews from Bordeaux to Auschwitz between 1942 and 1944, Hollande also cancelled his decoration for “having dishonored the French State.”

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