French Jewish Leader Discloses Further Rise in Antisemitic Offenses During 2019

CRIF President Francis Kalifat (center), Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen (second left) and philosopher and human rights advocate Bernard-Henri Lévy (far right) were among those leading the 2018 march in Paris for murdered Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll. Photo: Reuters / Gonzalo Fuentes.

France experienced another disarming rise in antisemitic offenses during the first six months of 2019, the head of the French Jewish community disclosed in a media interview on Friday.

Speaking to “Le Talk,” an online show produced by leading news outlet Le Figaro, Francis Kalifat — president of the French Jewish representative body CRIF — declared that “antisemitism continues to grow in our country.”

Addressing the fresh rise in antisemitic offenses, Kalifat spoke of “a very strong increase in reported antisemitic acts.”

“In the first half of the year, we are almost 76 percent higher than in the first half of 2018, which was already a bleak year,” Kalifat remarked.

Kalifat was speaking in advance of CRIF’s national convention in Paris on Sunday, which will confront the question, “Fractured France: can we unite against antisemitism?”

Sessions at the event — which will cover topics from the nature of antisemitism to the impact of the BDS movement targeting the State of Israel — will be addressed by leading politicians and academics.

Kalifat blamed both the far-right National Assembly party (formerly the National Front) and far-left organizations for legitimizing antisemitic discourse. The former was the political home of “Vichy nostalgists,” Kalifat said, while the latter were spreading hostility toward Jews in the name of “anti-Zionism.”

Kalifat was also asked for his views on the appropriation of the “yellow star” badge imposed by the Nazi authorities on the Jews that was seen at a Paris demonstration against Islamophobia last weekend.

Condemning the spectacle as an “infamy,” Kalifat emphasized that opposing discrimination against Muslims did not require comparisons with the fate of the Jews under Nazi occupation.

“We recognize, strongly condemn and give our full solidarity to our Muslim compatriots when they are victims of discrimination…but we cannot put that on the same level as the events of the war,” he stated.

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Author: Ben Cohen

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