'Too many Arabs' and 'too few Jews' in French city, politician says

Aviv Zonabend later retracted some of his comments, saying he meant to target Islamists, not Arabs.

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April 29, 2018 09:11
1 minute read.
The Capitole de Toulouse, the city's main administrative building

The Capitole de Toulouse, the city's main administrative building. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 
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Toulouse's Jewish deputy mayor said in a recent interview that the southern French city is home to "too many Arabs" and "too few Jews."

Aviv Zonabend, who is the charge d'affaires for Toulouse's relations with its twin cities - including Tel Aviv - made the comments while giving an interview in Hebrew to an Israeli radio station.

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He then retracted part of his statement, saying that he had responded in "a hesitant Hebrew, a language that is not his mother tongue," and that he "would not like to talk about Arabs, but about Islamists," adding that he has "nothing against Arabs."

"I would like to insist on the fact that there are too many Islamists in Toulouse. I am very clear," he continued.

His remarks come shortly after a widely-signed manifesto against antisemitism in France was published. The author and signatories of the letter - which included several former prominent politicians including Manuel Valls and Nicolas Sarkozy - blamed much of the country's agitation towards its Jewish population on Islamists. The letter has been criticized by some of France's foremost Muslim authorities as unjust.

Jean-Luc Moudenc, the mayor of Toulouse - and the leader of the majority of which Zonabend is a member - condemned his remarks in a post on his Facebook page.



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"We believe in the virtue of dialogue and the understanding of all cultures, and we promote a charter strongly reaffirming our great attachment to our republican values," he wrote.

Moudenc also demanded a verification of the translation of Zonabend's interview, suggesting that the version that has been published has been altered so as to suit the journalist who gave it. If the translation proves correct, however, Moudenc said he will make the necessary decisions to effectively sanction Zonabend. The original transcription of the interview was published by The Times of Israel.

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