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February 25, 2022 2:46 pm

French Prime Minister Denounces ‘Apartheid’ Labeling of Israel in Address to Jewish Community

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avatar by Algemeiner Staff

French Prime Minister Jean Castex addressing the 2022 annual dinner of Jewish organization Crif. Photo: Reuters/Ludovic Marin

France’s prime minister delivered a thundering denunciation of the allegation that Israel is an “apartheid” state during a speech on Thursday night to the umbrella body representing the country’s Jewish community.

“How dare anyone speak of apartheid in a state where Arab citizens are represented in the government, in the parliament, in leadership positions and in positions of responsibility, where all citizens, regardless of their religion, have understood that their only hope is peace together,” Prime Minister Jean Castex declared in a speech to the annual dinner of Crif, the French Jewish representative organization, in Paris.

French President Emmanuel Macron has been due to address the dinner, but was forced to cancel due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Three other candidates in April’s presidential election — Valérie Pécresse, Anne Hidalgo and Yannick Jadot — all attended, while invitations were withheld from the three far-left and far-right candidates, Marine Le Pen, Eric Zemmour and Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Castex’s condemnation of the labeling of Israel as an apartheid state, expressed most recently in a controversial report by Amnesty International, was part of a broader attack on rising antisemitism in France and around the world.

“We will only defeat this filthy monster through a general mobilization of society,” he said.

However, Castex sounded a discordant note when he claimed that antisemitic outrages in France had declined by 14 percent in 2021.

Earlier this week, Crif stated that the French interior ministry’s own data showed a 74 percent increase in complaints to the police regarding antisemitic acts, from 339 in 2020 to 559 in 2021. However, the ministry pushed back, claiming that there had in fact been a decline of 14 percent in 2021 from the 617 outrages recorded in 2019. The ministry insisted that 2020 could not be considered as a statistical comparison for antisemitic incidents because of the lockdown brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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