French Prime Minister Manuel Valls leaves after a speech to present a plan to fight racism and anti-Semitism at the Prefecture in Creteil near Paris April 17, 2015. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The French government firmly condemns boycotts of Israel, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said, warning against the phenomenon of organizations criticizing Israeli policies turning to anti-Semitic activities.
Valls made his statement on Wednesday in response to a question from French MP Meyer Habib, who pointed out the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel is active in France despite laws against boycotts, and called for better enforcement.
Habib, a French-Israeli binational who represents French expats from several Mediterranean countries in the National Assembly, asked Valls why there have been no investigations or indictments of BDS activists in keeping with French laws against boycotts.
“Despite a court decision on October 20 that the boycotts are illegal, the BDS movement is expected to host a lecture in Paris 8 University, public officials, including Socialists [from Valls’s party], support the movement openly and actively, and continue initiatives against Israel,” Habib said in his speech to the National Assembly.
“Last June, on the eve of Ramadan, former MP Jean Claude Le-Fort called to boycott a [French] company that produces kosher products. In the Val D’Oise region, pharmacists were asked to stop selling Teva medications, and in September, there was a campaign against French media company SFR because its CEO is a French-Israeli Jew.”
Habib said he wrote two letters to French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira on the topic, and received no response.
Meanwhile, no investigations have been opened and no indictments issued on these cases.
“Mr. Prime Minister, when there is discrimination, anti-Semitism and racism, there are no innocent actions. These actions undermine the republic, especially when they are unpunished.
The boycott creates an atmosphere of hatred in France. Have we forgotten that in January, a terrorist specifically chose the kosher store Hyper Casher as a target?” Habib asked.
In response, Valls said Habib is right: “Let me say this as clearly as possible: We condemn any campaign of boycotts against Israeli products.”
Valls said the French government is against boycotts and will fight them with the necessary means, while pressing for dialogue toward a two-state solution.
“Unfortunately, there are too many initiatives that intentionally mix legitimate criticism of Israeli policies with anti-Zionism that turns into anti-Semitism,” the French prime minister added. “I am warning anyone who takes part in such activities.
“Behind the scenes, they are taking part in activities that are not criticism of one policy or another, but a condemnation of Zionism, which has truly become anti-Semitism,” Valls said.
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