Published on September 28th on the website of The European Jewish Congress
The party led by French President Emmanuel Macron and the centre-right Republicans are among the major political movements in France that have not yet accepted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, despite a call by French Jewish leaders for them to do so.
The French President’s La République En Marche party has not yet moved to follow a European Parliament recommendation to align itself to the IHRA.
Neither has the far-right National Rally, the party led by Marine le Pen that was until recently known as the National Front.
“When I asked political leaders and party officials what they thought about the definition and if they would adopt it, they said it would be a good idea, but I haven’t heard anything since,” said Francis Kalifat, who leads the French Jewish umbrella group Crif, the country’s EJC affiliate.
“Our hope is to see this definition integrated into French law. Today, the main vector for antisemitism is anti-Zionism and this definition states clearly that anti-Zionism isn’t just criticism against Israel."
“We were pretty satisfied with the latest government plan to combat antisemitism online but the anti-Zionist aspect is still missing.”
The IHRA definition has been adopted by countries including Austria, Germany, Lithuania and Romania after the European Parliament voted in June 2017 to recommend member states do so.
After spending many months debating its clauses, Britain’s Labour Party also fully adopted it earlier this month.
But Macron’s party and the right-wing Les Republicains did not respond to a JC request asking when the IHRA definition would become part of their party’s rule-book.
Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party — formerly the National Front — says it needs ‘more time’ to consider the issue.
Interior Ministry figures show Jews were attacked 311 times in 2017, including 97 violent assaults. The community has been a major terrorist target since 2012, when a Jewish school was attacked in Toulouse.
A spokesman for Dilcrah, a government body for fighting hate, said France supported the definition within the IHRA.
He said: “The position of France is that we voted within the IHRA to adopt the definition, so we support it.
“President Emmanuel Macron has made far-reaching statements during his 2017 speech at the Vel-d’Hiv memorial [commemorating the wartime round-up of Parisian Jews]. The President linked anti-Zionism and antisemitism and the words of the head of state have the strongest impact.”
Asked why France had not followed the UK in adopting the definition across its institutions, the Dilcrah spokesman said France is not in the same situation.
“The context is different. Serious accusations of antisemitism have been made regarding one of the major [British] parties. That has not happened in France.”
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