French parliament evacuated over white powder sent to Jewish lawmaker

“We will never surrender to the expressions of hatred; we will not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a reinvention of antisemitism.”

By JTA
August 28, 2018 20:23
1 minute read.
French parliament evacuated over white powder sent to Jewish lawmaker

The French flag flies above the Grand Palais in Paris, France, June 24, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS/JEAN-PAUL PELISSIER)

 
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Dozens of firefighters evacuated a part of the building housing the French parliament following a letter containing slurs against a Jewish lawmaker, along with a several grams of white powder.
 
The letter, reading “fat Zionist pig, you’re not French,” among other insults, was opened by an employee of Meyer Habib’s office Monday, the lawmaker wrote on Twitter, leading to the evacuation over the white powder.
 
At least 40 firefighters and 20 police officers were dispatched to the seat of the National Assembly, the French parliament’s lower house, in Paris. They evacuated the building and scanned it.
 
The powder was found to be harmless and the threat lifted from parliament within an hour of the evacuation. Police are looking for the culprits but have no suspects in custody.
 
Habib, a former deputy president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, represents French voters based in the eastern part of the Mediterranean.
 
Authorities in France have a mixed approach to vitriol toward Israel and Zionism.
 
Last year, French President Emmanuel Macron condemned anti-Zionism as a form of antisemitism during a speech – the first such public statement by a French head of state.
 
“We will never surrender to the expressions of hatred; we will not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a reinvention of antisemitism,” Macron said during a ceremony commemorating Holocaust victims.
 
Promoting a boycott of Israel is illegal in France, following a 2003 law that forbids it as form of incitement to hate or discrimination.
But whereas some incidents of anti-Zionist vitriol are treated as hate crimes, others are tolerated.
 
The Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, on Sunday protested a plan by boycott supporters to demonstrate Tuesday in front of a police station in the southern city of Montpelier over the prosecution of their fellow activists in March. The three activists prosecuted had demonstrated outside a theater to protest the performance there of Israeli performers.
 
“The rally is reminiscent of a Western, in which a rabble of outlaws gather outside the sheriff’s office to demand the release of another bandit,” BNVCA wrote.

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