French parliament praised for anti-Zionism is antisemitism decision

This decision ‘comes amidst a continuing rise in antisemitism, including acts of violence, in France,’ said the AJC

 French President Emmanuel Macron attends the opening ceremony of the France-Israel season event in Paris. (photo credit: CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON/POOL VIA REUTERS)
French President Emmanuel Macron attends the opening ceremony of the France-Israel season event in Paris.
ewish groups and leaders have applauded the French National Assembly’s decision on Tuesday night that states anti-Zionism is a form of antisemitism.
The motion passed with 154 in favor and 72 opposed in the parliament’s lower house. It was proposed by lawmaker Sylvain Maillard of LREM, President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party.
World Zionist Organization vice chairman Yaakov Hagoel told The Jerusalem Post that he welcomed this “important decision...and expects other countries in Europe to pass a similar decision."
"I am very happy that the mask has been removed,” he said, “anti-Zionism is antisemitism. This disguise tried to legalize antisemitic and racist motives against the Jewish people - enough to make people hate.”
Hagoel added that Jews around the world have the right to live and walk around in absolute safety “with a Star of David or a kippah on their head without fear of being harmed.”
For Francis Kalifat, president of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, "this vote is above all a step forward for France, which joins 20 other countries that have adopted the IHRA definition
“It is a necessary step to strengthen the fight against the scourge that represents more than 50% of racist acts in our country,” he said. “It is an important tool that can help police officers, magistrates, educators and social network managers to better understand antisemitism as it is expressed today in our society.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Israel Katz said in a statement that French Parliament's decision.
“The adoption of the resolution confirms President Macron's remarks that anti-Zionism is the new face of antisemitism,” he said, adding that he “calls on other countries to follow in France’s footsteps.”
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) praised the French National Assembly’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism. “Parliament’s action follows on President Emmanuel Macron’s call earlier this year for France to adopt the IHRA working definition,” said AJC Paris director Anne-Sophie Sebban-Bécache in a statement. "The National Assembly’s endorsement of the working definition is a very welcome and significant boost to France’s determination to recognize the dangers to our society of rising antisemitism and to more effectively fight hatred of Jews in all its forms.”
She explained that this decision “comes amidst a continuing rise in antisemitism, including acts of violence, in France.
“In the first semester of 2019, the number of antisemitic acts in France increased by 76% over the previous year during the same period,” she continued. "The urgent need for education on antisemitism, to recognize it and mobilize to confront it, is paramount…. [and] it is essential now that government, civil society, faith and other leaders use the working definition in the fight against antisemitism.”
Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog took to Twitter to celebrate this decision.
“We, as the representatives of the global Jewish people, applaud and salute the French National Assembly and the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, on their historic decision that is a moral beacon against antisemitism and hatred of Israel,” he wrote. “The homeland of Emile Zola who led the fight against antisemitism is standing tall in supporting the right to live a Jewish life without fear, and in unequivocal support of Zionism and the State of Israel.”
Responding to the news, World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder said that this was a "crucial step in the fight against antisemitism.
"For too long too many have used the excuse that their obsessive criticism of Israel stands exclusive from their otherwise positive feelings for the Jewish people," he said. "Those days are now over.
“I stand with the Jewish community of France in commending this critical decision by the French government and encourage all other nations who have not yet done so to follow suit,” Lauder added.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Dannon also applauded the decision.
“It is a strong step to combat growing #Antisemitism in Europe,” he tweeted. “The @TheIHRA's definition should be adopted by every government.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center's director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, who was present for the vote said that “adopting the Definition was a historic day for France... The question is, how it will impact on the legal, educational and security measures in battling antisemitism?”
The European Leadership Network, which focuses on strengthening relations between Europe and Israel, said in a statement that it too welcomed "this important step to fight all forms of antisemitism, including anti-Zionism defined explicitly as a form of Jew hatred."
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.