Published on 13 April 2018

#CrifDinner - Speech of Crif President Francis Kalifat during the annual Crif Dinner in presence of French President Emmanuel Macron

Francis Kalifat: "Antisemitic hatred has a strange ability to reinvent itself in many forms, and we need a real definition that includes all of its current forms, including anti-Zionism."

33rd Crif Dinner

Guest of honor : Mr Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic

March 7, 2018  

Mr. President of the Republic, I am very happy to welcome you, tonight, for the first Crif Dinner of your quinquennium, in this place which saw your first presidential steps. Your speech here, on the evening of May 7, marked the end of an unhappy political sequence that saw two extremists in the lead in the first round of the presidential election. It was ten months ago, it may seem far, but France and Europe could then have committed to a fatal destiny.

A whole other music resonates today.

The world economy is better. Europe is moving forward again despite crises and populism. As for France, it is "Great again". Hope and trust are back. Undoubtedly, it comforts us but let's not rejoice too quickly. Many of our compatriots are still on the roadside, hit by unemployment or anxious about a world that is constantly changing. And all of us are still living with the terrorist threat.

The military withdrawal of Daesh does not change anything. In the year 2017, more than a hundred attacks committed under the screems of "Allah ouAkbar" hit the five continents. Istanbul, Manchester, Jerusalem, Baghdad, Barcelona, ​​New York, Mogadishu, Marseille .... Marseille where two young women, Maurane and Laura, are killed in a knife attack at Gare Saint-Charles. And Paris .... Paris where two soldiers are attacked with a machete right here, at the Carrousel du Louvre. Paris where the policeman Xavier Jugulé is killed at the Kalashnikov on the Champs Elysees. Paris, where, on the morning of April 4, the lifeless body of a 66-year-old woman lies in the interior courtyard of the building she lives at 26 rue Vaucouleurs in the eleventh arrondissement. Tortured to the rhythm of suras of the Koran, Sarah Attal-Halimi, has been murdered. Nearly 11 months later, last February 27 the judge finally decides to retain the circumstance of anti-Semitism in this heinous crime.

I am grateful to you, President of the Republic, for "calling on justice to clarify [this] death". It was in a very beautiful speech during the commemoration of the Vel d'Hiv tragig event. Tonight, my thoughts are with the children and their family. We will always remember them. Also, I have decided that Crif will be constituted civil part  in the future trial for justice for Sarah Halimi. This trial will also be the trial of te current french anti-Semitism.

For some trials, we have been waiting for more than 37 years and, supreme insult to the victims, we fear that they never take place. 1980, attack on Copernic Street. 4 dead and 40 wounded. Despite the request for the dismissal of the prosecution before the special Assize Court, the judges order, in January 2018, a dismissal and immediate release of the main suspect. The prosecution immediately appealed, but the suspect immediately left France. Will he come back someday?

1982, attack of the rue des Rosiers. 6 dead, 22 wounded and four international arrest warrants issued in 2015, but remained ineffective. 1982, it's been 36 years. The years do not erase the pain. And we need to hear the suffering of families. I regularly receive calls or messages from a victim's sister. "I'm going to die soon," she told me, "and I will not have justice for my brother." These desperate words call for an answer. The four alleged terrorists are refugees in Jordan, Ramallah, and Norway. Why so much slowness in their extradition? Is it so complicated to extradite from Norway? The independence of justice is not enough to make the uncomfortable feeling that something is wrong.

Mr President, thanks to you, France is also back on the international stage. You advocate openness, dialogue and openness. In this unstable and multipolar world, France is the country that speaks to all countries. This diplomacy which privileges the direct contact will bring you, by the end of the year, in a country often called the "Start-Up nation" and which you visited in 2015, when you were Minister of the Economy.

A country that will celebrate its friendship with France through a cross cultural season from June to November 2018.

A country which could have disappeared, since its birth in 1948, in the war launched against him by all its Arab neighbors and which will celebrate in May its 70th anniversary.

A country, if one believes a children's magazine, which would not be a real country and which would be moreover comparable to North Korea. And it is symptomatic of a state of mind that ignores political and historical realities and seizes every opportunity to stigmatize Israel.

This hateful state of mind, we have seen at work in the denial resolutions of UNESCO who refused any Jewish and Christian dimension in Jerusalem.

This hateful state of mind characterizes the illegal actions of BDS activists, a movement that advocates boycott and wants Israel to disappear. Its most radical supporters confuse a political opposition with the hatred of a state, they refuse a state to the only Jewish people, they widen to all the Jews their phobia of Israel. As you said in this July speech I mentioned earlier, "Anti-Zionism is the new form of anti-Semitism." That is why those who call for the boycott of Israel must be severely punished. They must be prevented from acting when they threaten violent events on Israel, as was the case last month against a cultural festival at the University of Lille. These associations thrive in defiance of the law and often divert subsidies they receive from the state and local governments to finance their illegal actions.

The negation of reality, the contempt of culture and history bring nothing good, no more in France than in the Middle East. If we really want to build a two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians live side by side in peace and security, then it is high time to rely on historical realities. One of these realities is that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and was already there 3,000 years ago. Why wait to recognize this reality? Why wait when it feeds false hopes, doublespeakings and vindictive myths? Having said that, I know that the Palestinians will also have a capital, but this subject, like so many others, is a matter of direct negotiation between the two parties. This negotiation must resume as soon as possible. And I add a wish for your next trip, that France recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The negation of reality I said, brings nothing good, no more in diplomacy than in the internal affairs of France. Mr President, with others in France and Europe we have been ringing the alarm for years. Things are finally starting to move. National Education is a priority in your project to transform France. It is, of course, too early to talk about results, but we welcome several initiatives: The establishment of the Council of Elders of secularism, the units "secularism and religious fact" and the comprehensive census of attacks on secularism in schools. The first step is to identify and quantify, without angelism or cowardice. It is high time to get out of ideological postures, those of denial and excuse like those of fantasies and fears.

Internet giants are also starting to change, having long refused to see the hate they spread. Facebook and Twitter delete posts and close accounts. But these are just drops of water in a torrent. You also have been plunged into this torrent, Mr. President, including anti-Semitic messages.

Here again the first step is to identify and quantify. We will not have a global view of anti-Semitism without measuring or analyzing anti-Semitic remarks that are spreading on the Internet.

Also, to complete the work of the digital cell of Crif I decided to install a Watch of hatred over the Internet. Its work will complement the annual report on anti-Semitic acts and violence, prepared by the Ministry of the Interior on the basis of complaints lodged at police stations. When our tool is proven, we can expand it to racism, xenophobia, homophobia, hatred of Muslims and, also, the hatred of France. If we build this Watch, it's because Internet companies do not do it themselves. Perhaps it is necessary to constrain them? It is time for the law to consider them for what they are, and to assume the same responsibilities as newspaper publishers.

Since January 2018 a German law requires social networks to remove hate content within 24 hours. If they do not, it allows them to be fined up to 50 million euros. Whether France is inspired by this law or inventing its own device, it is urgent to dry this torrent of hatred.

Antisemitic hatred has a strange ability to reinvent itself in many forms. To combat it, we need a definition that includes all of its current forms, including anti-Zionism and Holocaust denial.

The European Parliament has made the same observation. And on June 1, 2017, it passed a resolution that, I quote, "invites member states to adopt and apply the operational definition of anti-Semitism used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance". Mr President, I hope that, like other European countries, France will respond positively to the invitation of the European Parliament. Denial of reality and impunity of the virtual. All this creates a bad climate, conducive to hatred.

The picture would be incomplete without mentioning absolutism and relativism. Absolutism today is the idea that there is a word and laws absolute, immutable and impassable, that no one has the right to challenge or criticize and who always outweighs those of men . Many religions have used this hierarchy in the past. In 21st century France, only the radical Islamists are on this totalitarian path. They are far from marginal. According to a study by the Montaigne Institute in 2016, 32% of Muslims consider sharia more important than the law of the Republic. According to another CNRS study in 2017, 32% of Muslim high school students think that there is only one true religion and that religion is right against science. Absolutism flourishes at the same time as relativism, it is this idea that everything is worth and that everything can be put on the same plane, the true and the false, the good and the bad, the civilization and the cannibalism if I refers me to a formula of the philosopher Leo Strauss. In its soft version, relativism welcomes all points of view, without hierarchy, and delights in controversy.

We had a nauseating episode with Gallimard's project of publishing Celine's three antisemitic texts as "polemical writings", as if the circulation of hate texts, causing so many deaths, was just a subject of controversy. We thought the project was buried. But Antoine Gallimard declares that he has not renounced the reissue of these breviaries of hatred. I call him again to abandon this project carrying an insupportable incitement to anti-Semitic and racist hatred. In its hard version, relativism deviates freedom of expression and religious freedom to make room for extremist or fanatical speeches or theses contrary to science or democracy. It is by dint of relativising and putting everything on the same level that the French society was divided last January, when commemorating the attack against Charlie Hebdo. It is in this bad climate that anti-Semitism flourishes in our country. S

everal analyzes have been devoted to it. They draw, all, a vice. We French Jews are inside this vice that crushes us and hurts us. Yes, it hurts when we are caught between the traditional anti-Semitism overrepresented on the extreme right and anti-Zionist anti-Semitism, overrepresented on the far left, When we are stuck between the very strong Muslim anti-Semitism in the 15-25 age group and the privileged target status for Islamist terrorists. In 21st century France, antisemitism has already killed at least four times, in 2017, 2015, 2012 and 2006.

In France, which is getting better, anti-Semitism is still the cause of so much violence. Some hit the spirits. Thus, in Livry-Gargan, in September 2017, the Pinto family is sequestrated and molested because she is Jewish and she therefore necessarily has money. Or, in Sarcelles, in January 2018, a 15-year-old girl in a Jewish school uniform is assaulted, and in February, an 8-year-old boy wearing a kippah is attacked by two 15-year-olds. years ago, and last week again a young boy of 14 years struck and insulted leaving the synagogue in Montmagny. This violence is the immersed part of everyday anti-Semitism. I want to end this speech by mentioning the life and the helplessness of those who suffer it. They live in certain neighborhoods of Stains, Courneuve, Romainville, Aulnay, Bondy, Saint Denis, Creteil, but also Paris, Marseille, Villeurbanne, Bron or Lyon. Some receive threats and Kalashnikov bullets in their mailboxes. Others find threatening tags on their cars, on the walls of their homes or shops or on the walls of their synagogue. The texts speak for themselves "to death the Jews, Allah Akbar boom boom, I will kill you". Sometimes illustrated with swastikas. Enthusiastic looks attack them in the stairwells. We tear off their mezouzot, these boxes hung the pediments of the gates and enclosing verses of the Torah. They complain sometimes, not always because these threats are daily or because they have lost hope.

It also happens that the police do not see there anti-Semitism. We hear that sometimes she would deliver this terrible advice to them: "they have spotted you, go away". Their choice is limited: to leave, to flee, but still it is necessary to have the means, or to endure and to suffer. In the France of 2018, not so far from here, Jewish French live on the watch, fear for them and their children. This is unacceptable ! Against the anti-Semitism of everyday life, we demand a policy of zero tolerance with exemplary and dissuasive sanctions.

There is something wrong here that goes beyond the fate of the Jewish French. Yes, something is wrong when, after threats and violence, the only solution for the victim is to withdraw, disappear and leave, as if his harassment was justified. Something is wrong when you give up dealing with the problem and only try to deal with it. When we talk about living together and diversity, but we do nothing to prevent their decline in the suburbs. When delinquency, clientelism and communitarianism are allowed, these doors open to all extremism, political and religious. Mr President of the Republic, it is high time to restore the authority of the state throughout France. It is high time to bring out the negations of reality and put an end to impunity on the Internet. It is high time to reject absolutism and replace relativism with a unifying project that brings unity and cohesion. These are not partisan actions.

It is a fight on several grounds: security, education, Internet, secularism, living together, but also the field of ideas.

This is not a fight for the only Jewish French, it is a fight for all the French.

It is a fight for our country, for its future and for that of our children. In this fight, Mr President of the Republic, we French Jews will always be at your side.

Because we love France and because we have our roots there, because we know what France has given us and what it gives to all its children.

Because we want for our children a desirable future in France, under the triple sign of freedom, equality and fraternity. I have confidence in the success of our fight because, together, we are doing France and all together we are France.

Long live the Republic, long live France.

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