French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (R) and the Dreyfus affair.
(photo credit: REUTERS,Wikimedia Commons)
A major Jewish organization on Friday urged French President Francois Hollande to punish a former foreign minister for making what was widely perceived to be an anti-Semitic allegation against Prime Minister Manuel Valls earlier this week.
Valls excoriated the former minister from his party, Roland Dumas, for suggesting that Valls was under Jewish “influence” because his wife is Jewish.
The statements made Monday about Valls and his wife by Dumas, a Socialist former foreign minister, “do nothing to honor the republic,” Valls said the same day during a meeting with regional lawmakers of the Paris region.
In an interview aired on BFMTV, Dumas said about Valls, “He has personal alliances, everyone knows he is married to someone – a distinguished person – who has influence over him.”
Valls is married to Jewish violinist Anne Gravoin, and in 2011 he said during a public appearance that his marriage connected him “in an eternal way” to Israel and the Jewish people. Many French Jews admire Valls for his outspoken opposition to anti-Semitism and executive actions to prevent it.
During the interview about Valls aired Monday, Dumas was asked whether Valls “was under Jewish influence,” to which Dumas replied, “Probably, I would think so.”
The interviewer, Jacques Bourdin, then asked, “Under his wife’s influence?” Dumas replied, “Of course. Why not? Why not say so?”
Dumas’ statement drew condemnations from across the political spectrum in France, many of them accusing him of anti-Semitism.
“Considering Dumas’ openly pro-Palestinian views and hostility to Israel, it is easy to understand how anti-Semitism developed so considerably in our country under the guise of anti-Zionism,” the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism wrote in a statement.
Last year, the disgraced soccer player Nicolas Anelka also said Valls was controlled by his Jewish wife.
Dumas, a close confidant of the late President Francois Mitterrand, in 2013 suggested that Israel was behind the British government’s readiness to strike in Syria and has accused Israelis of controlling French intelligence services.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center on Friday demanded that Hollande strip Dumas of his Légion d'Honneur, a French order and the most prestigious award bestowed by the Fifth Republic.
“[This scandal] evokes the shadows of another charge of Jewish double loyalty in France,” the Wiesenthal Center said, referring to the Dreyfus Affair.
Alfred Dreyfus was a Jewish officer in the French artillery corps who was wrongly accused and convicted of treason in 1894. The conviction was eventually overturned after evidence came to light indicating that French military officials sought to make an example of Dreyfus.
The Wiesenthal Center is now urging Hollande to use his authority to revoke the honor given to Dumas, just as he did in 2011 with John Galliano, the designer who was caught making anti-Semitic remarks.
“At a time when the French Jewish community is in mourning, Roland Dumas' 'Jewish influence' incitement and hate-speech assault on the integrity of your prime pinister, is 'contrary to the honor of France' and tarnishes the Code of the Légion d'Honneur," the Wiesenthal Center wrote in a letter to Hollande.JTA contributed to this report.