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October 23, 2018 2:26 pm

French Higher Education Minister to Bolster Fight Against Antisemitism in Universities Following ‘Upsurge’ of Incidents

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French Higher Education Minister Frédérique Vidal. Photo: Reuters / Regis Duvignau.

Fighting antisemitism “is everyone’s business,” France’s minister of higher education declared on Tuesday following a meeting with Jewish student leaders in Paris.

The minister, Frédérique Vidal, called the meeting following what she called an “upsurge” in antisemitic vandalism on university campuses in recent months.

Among the several incidents reported in 2018 was the ransacking of the Union of Jewish Students (UEJF) office at The Sorbonne in Paris in March. Slogans including “Death to Israel” and “Free Palestine” were daubed on the office walls by extreme left-wing activists during an overnight “occupation” of an administrative building.

Swastikas and other antisemitic slogans have been spotted with greater frequency on French campuses. On Sept. 3, antisemitic graffiti targeting Patrick Lévy — the Jewish president of the Université Grenoble-Alpes — was discovered in several locations around the campus, while in October, swastikas were reported at the HEC Business School and the Law Faculty of the University of Paris.

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Vidal told the student leaders that “antisemitism, like racism and all forms of hatred and xenophobia, has no place in universities and schools that must remain places of education, openness and democracy.”

The group also discussed improving the system of reporting antisemitic incidents and providing support services to victims.

Following the meeting, the UEJF’s president, Sacha Ghozlan, remarked that “the university is no longer a sanctuary.”

“There is a trivialization of hate speech, especially on social networks, which has considerable resonance, and incites action in the real world,” Ghozlan said.

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