On June 23, Francis Kalifat has been elected to a second term as the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (Crif) President.
In June 2016, after many years spent at Crif - as a member of the Executive, Treasurer, and then Deputy President - Francis Kalifat succeeded Roger Cukierman as President of the Crif. This year, on June 23, he was re-elected by the General Assembly of Crif and thus begins a second mandate at the head of the institution.
You just finished your first term as President of Crif. A few words about these three years?
Francis Kalifat: These three years as President of Crif have been pretty challenging. They were sadly marked by two serious and traumatic events, the murders of Sarah Halimi and Mireille Knoll. Like the whole Jewish community, I was very shocked. I met many victims of anti-Semitic acts, some of them still teenagers, their parents, their families. It was never an easy thing.
What is the biggest difficulty you faced as President of Crif?
Francis Kalifat: I would say that the most difficult task is to assume the heavy responsibility that is mine towards the concerns of the Jewish community in France. To these concerns, it is mandatory to find a suitable answer.
What were the moments that made you happy or proud during this first term?
Francis Kalifat: I believe that it is probably to have succeeded - with others - to make possible the recognition of the anti-Semitic character of the murder of Sebastien Sellam. This is one of the strongest moments of my term. As President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron wrote in May 2018, Sébastien Sellam is now one of the victims of anti-Semitism in France.
Happy times, I had every day. It is a difficult mission but extremely rewarding. Our work to make the Internet a safer space, the establishment of the Internet Hate Observatory, our fight for the adoption of IHRA's definition of anti-Semitism, our unwavering commitment for the remembrance of the Holocaust: all these fights are true pride of everyday life.
Your relationships with the French public authorities have been strengthened throughout your mandate. What are they now?
Francis Kalifat: This reinforcement of our relations seems to me to go into an indispensable continuity. Crif has no police or judicial power, so it is necessary to maintain a strong relationship with the public authorities in order to inform them of the concerns of French Jews.
We have good relations with the public authorities, but at the end of this first mandate, I see that it is difficult for them to have a strategy specifically targeting anti-Semitism. Many of our interlocutors, when they talk about the hatred of Jews, systematically evoke the hatred of Arabs, homosexuals or Muslims. I regret it, especially because I strongly believe that each of these hatreds responds to specific sources and that they all deserve special treatment.
Ont he very beginning of this new presidential mandate, what are your ambitions?
Francis Kalifat: First, I want a Crif open to all Jews. The unanimous decision to accept Beit Haverim's membership in Crif General Assembly goes in this direction.
Then, I want a Crif fighting, fully committed to anti-Semitism, whatever its form is.
Finally, I want a Crif that fights for republican values, freedoms, equality, fraternity and secularism.
Justice will be the top priority of my second term because I sincerely believe that justice must do better in the fight against anti-Semitism.
Antisemitism rages more than ever in the daily life of the French Jews and we must put a definitive end to this scourge.
The hatred of Israel and its delegitimization must be fought: they are powerful vectors of anti-Semitism in France, it must be admitted to be able to fight against. Opponents of the existence of the only Jewish state must be fought. They are clearly anti-Semitic and we will continue to fight them with the greatest force.
Finally, the preservation of the remembrance of the Holocaust remains a constant task.
I have great ambitions for Crif but I measure, with seriousness and humility, the level of the task, the challenges and the heavy responsibility that have been entrusted to me.