Anti-Semitism must be redefined to be better fought. It is the plea of Sylvain Maillard, MP LREM, which brought to the National Assembly, Tuesday, December 3, a simple resolution without legislative scope. The text was finally adopted, by 154 votes against 72, at the price of a debate that caused trouble, even in the political majority. The questioning agitated a group of 127 Jewish intellectuals, living in France or Israel, who signed a forum to oppose the adoption of this text.
Starting point is the work of the International Alliance for the Remembrance of the Holocaust (IHRA), which wants to take into account cases where anti-Zionism is one of the faces of anti-Semitism. At the beginning of the redefinition proposed by the IHRA, there is a rather broad and consensual title: "Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of the Jews, which can be manifested by a hatred towards them." The rhetorical and physical manifestations of the anti-Semitism are aimed at Jewish and non-Jewish individuals and / or their property, community institutions and places of worship. "
The definition proposed by the IHRA has already been validated by the European Parliament in June 2017, and by several countries such as Austria, Germany and the United Kingdom. It is supported by Emmanuel Macron, who last February before the Council representative of Jewish institutions in France (Crif), had then endorsed this desire to expand the definition of anti-Semitism to anti-Zionism. It has since been used in training courses for police officers, gendarmes and magistrates, by the Interministerial Delegation for the fight against racism, anti-Semitism and anti-LGBT hatred (Dilcrah). "This definition is not legally binding and it is not intended to be, it is not in any way to change the penal code," said Frederic Potier, head of the Dilcrah.
The promise made by Emmanuel Macron
Emmanuel Macron's speech to the Crif was in the context of a proliferation of anti-Semitic acts, including a desecration of a cemetery. On February 19, 96 of the 245 graves at the Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim (Bas-Rhin) were stained with swastikas. The president then went there to promise "strong, clear" acts and "laws". Less than ten months later, on Tuesday, December 3, while the National Assembly debate on the resolution is being held, 107 graves at the Jewish cemetery in Westhoffen, near Strasbourg, have been desecrated. "Antisemitic inscriptions", mainly "swastikas", have been found, says the prefecture.
One definition, several examples
The debate over this text does not concern the general definition of anti-Semitism by the IHRA, which is considered consensual. The controversy is about the eleven examples given later by the IHRA. For example, to consider as anti-Semitic the "unequal treatment of the State of Israel to behave in ways that are not expected or required of any other democratic state".
If the bearer of this resolution in the National Assembly, LREM deputy Sylvain Maillard, ensures take again the definition of the IHRA "without its examples", the logic of the fight against anti-Zionism is present in the expected text, available on the website of the National Assembly. "Anti-Zionist acts can sometimes obscure anti-Semitic realities." Criticizing Israel's very existence as a community of Jewish citizens amounts to expressing hatred of the Jewish community as a whole, just as to make Jews politically accountable for the policies pursued by the Israeli political authorities is a manifestation of anti-Semitism, such abuses are increasingly anti-Zionism 'one of the contemporary forms of anti-Semitism', in the words of the President of the Republic.Pointer such drifts does not prevent any free criticism of the policy and positions of Israeli governments, "said the resolution, voted on Tuesday.
"On universal bases"
Opponents of this text reproach him for his inaccuracy. "There is no doubt that there are anti-Semites among people who oppose Zionism, but there are also many anti-Semites who support Zionism, so it is inappropriate and totally inaccurate to identify anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism By confusing these two phenomena, the National Assembly would compromise vital efforts to fight against true anti-Semitism, which is multidimensional and comes from different sectors of French society, "write a collective of 127 intellectuals, all of Jewish denomination, living in France, the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel.
"Anti-Semitism must be fought on a universal basis, along with other forms of racism and xenophobia, to fight against hate.The abandonment of this universalist approach will lead to increased polarization in France, which would undermine also to the fight against anti-Semitism ", continues this forum published in Le Monde.
James Cohen, a professor at Paris-Sorbonne Nouvelle University, expresses his doubts about France 24: "The deputy Maillard says that with this definition, it is possible to continue to criticize Israeli policy, or to boycott Israeli products. My feeling is that this text suffocates, represses the future debates on Israeli policy towards the Palestinians, many of whom are living in Israel, and we all feel that this resolution seeks to lock the debate, perhaps not completely. but to a great extent, "he judges.