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(photo credit: AP)
The Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF), the umbrella body of French Jewry, will not renew dialogue with French Muslim groups that equated Operation Cast Lead in Gaza with the Holocaust, the group's vice president, Meyer Habib, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
During Operation Cast Lead, some Muslim organizers of pro-Palestinian demonstrations equated Israel's actions with the Nazi Holocaust, and even carried banners that read "death to Jews."
One group in particular, the influential Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF), was so virulent in its anti-Israel rhetoric that French Jewry's umbrella body cut all ties and dialogue with the group.
"We understand the Muslim support for the Palestinians. It's as natural as the Jewish support for the Israelis," Habib said. "I was an organizer of a 15,000-person demonstration for Israel [during the fighting].
"But within the [UOIF] demonstrations there were signs calling for 'death to the Jews.' Some of the organizers from respectable organizations were comparing Israel to the [Nazis] in the Holocaust.
"These are dangerous comparisons," he said. "Until they apologize - which I don't think will happen anytime soon - we will have no contact with them."
Habib was reiterating the policy expressed in an early March speech by CRIF president Richard Prasquier, in which Prasquier warned that the Gaza operation had shown a resurgence of anti-Semitism in France.
According to Prasquier, January alone - the month of the operation - saw 352 anti-Semitic acts in France, compared to just 460 annually during 2007 and 2008.
"Anti-Semitism is back," he said.
Meanwhile, on Friday a body of French Jewish groups filed a complaint with the public prosecutor of the Bobigny district, northeast of Paris, against a campaign under way calling for local supermarkets to boycott Israeli products.
The complaint concerned "the invasion of Paris suburban supermarkets by anti-Israel boycotters," the groups said in a statement.
They said the language of the campaign - which targeted Carrefour supermarkets around Paris - included "incitement to hatred against Israel" and instigated "anti-Jewish acts in the country."
"This boycott campaign should be viewed as a discriminatory and punishable crime, inasmuch as many of the targeted products serve the kosher dietary needs of Jewish citizens," according to the groups, which included the Simon Wiesenthal Center-affiliated National Bureau Against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA), the French Association for Assistance to Israel (SFSI) and the Jewish Communities Council of Seine-Saint Denis (CCJ 93).
The groups submitted flyers, stickers and a list of products targeted by the boycotters to the public prosecutor.