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February 21, 2019 1:38 pm

French National Assembly Poised to Adopt Symbolic Resolution Confirming Anti-Zionism as ‘Form of Antisemitism’

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avatar by Ben Cohen

‘Yellow Vest’ protesters scream anti-Zionist and antisemitic abuse at French Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut on a Paris street. Photo: Screenshot.

France’s National Assembly is likely to adopt a symbolic resolution affirming that anti-Zionism is a form of antisemitism, the head of the ruling LREM party said on Thursday.

Stanislas Guerini — a deputy in the assembly who is also the chief executive of the LREM, President Emmanuel Macron’s political party — announced the move following Macron’s speech on Wednesday night to French Jewish leaders, in which he outlined concrete new measures to combat the continuing wave of antisemitism in France.

“We are going to adopt a resolution that has also been adopted at European level, which recognizes anti-Zionism as a disguised form of antisemitism,” Guerini said in a radio interview on Thursday.

Discussion of the resolution this week has focused on whether its provisions  on anti-Zionism should be included in the French penal code — a position which Macron said on Tuesday would not be a “good solution,” despite his conviction, expressed in Wednesday night’s speech, that anti-Zionism is a “modern form of antisemitism.”

Guerini emphasized that the proposed resolution was symbolic, and would have no legal force. He added that French judges would be able to refer to the resolution in relevant legal cases. “There is no need to change the penal code for that,” he said.

Not all supporters of the resolution agreed with Guerini, however, with one far-right MP accusing Macron of lacking the “courage” to give the resolution legal teeth.

Gilbert Collard — a parliamentarian from the RN party, the successor to the far-right Front National of Jean-Marie Le Pen — said on Twitter that “from speech to deeds, there is a step of courage that Macron does not want to take. Meanwhile, antisemitism continues.”

Other criticisms were more tempered. Eric Ciotti —  a parliamentarian from the center-right LR party  — remarked at a press conference on Thursday that while he was encouraged by the resolution, it was his “personal” belief that the resolution should be legally binding.

Pointing to the profusion of anti-Zionism, understood as the denial of the State of Israel’s right to exist, in Islamist and extreme left political circles, Ciotti emphasized that this was “deeply antisemitic.” The resolution therefore needed to become French law, Ciotti argued.

The decision to recognize anti-Zionism as a form of antisemitism was one of four measures announced Macron during his much-anticipated speech to the annual dinner of CRIF, the representative organization of French Jews. Other measures endorsed by the French leader included tougher laws against hate speech and incitement on the internet, banning extremist organizations that urge racism, antisemitism and violence, and conducting an “audit” of French public schools that have seen the departure of large numbers of Jewish students because of fears of antisemitism.

Government statistics published last week showed a 74 percent rise in antisemitic outrages in France during 2018.

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