‘Zionist Lobby Runs France,’ Claims Defendant on Trial for Antisemitic Abuse of Leading Philosopher Alain Finkielkraut
A man accused of showering the prominent French Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut with antisemitic insults on the fringes of a demonstration in Paris last February appeared in court on Wednesday.
Prosecutors demanded a six-month suspended sentence and a $50,000 fine for Benjamin Weller — a 26-year-old convert to Islam and an activist with the populist “yellow vests” movement. Weller was prominent among the small crowd of protesters who rounded on Finkielkraut after they spotted him near his Paris home during a demonstration on Feb. 6. Insults and slogans thrown at the philosopher by Weller and his comrades included, “dirty Zionist,” “dirty race,” Zionist sh*t,” “God will punish you,” and, “France is ours!”
Asked by the presiding magistrates to explain his actions, Weller insisted that he had merely been trying to tell Finkielkraut “my positions.”
Claiming that he was an “anti-Zionist” not hostile to Jews in general, Weller told the court about the “influence of Zionism … there are lobbies in France, who run France.”
Pressed on whether he believed that France was governed by a “Zionist lobby,” Weller replied, “Yes, a Zionist lobby that stigmatizes us. The ‘yellow vests’ are also against the Zionist lobby.”
The “influence of Zionism on French politics … hurts everyone,” he continued.
Also appearing in court on Wednesday was Finkielkraut himself, in testimony that news outlet Le Figaro remarked “sometimes takes on the appearance of a philosophical debate or a history lesson.” At one point, Finkielkraut dueled with prominent defense lawyer André Chamy — whose previous clients included the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein — over the nature of the insults directed at him. According to Chamy, “races do not exist.”
Responded Finkielkraut: “I agree that races don’t exist as such, but the accused believes they exist and he attacked me as a member of this so-called ‘dirty race.’”
The philosopher also argued that anti-Zionism should be understood as one of the forms that antisemitism can take.
Those who had insulted him as a “racist” and a “Zionist” wanted to “sew on the breast pockets of the Jews not the yellow star, but the swastika,” Finkielkraut told the court, referring to the Star of David which the Nazi authorities ordered Jews to wear on their outer clothing.
A decision in the case is expected on July 12 this year.