Antisemitism in 21st-century France

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After World War II, antisemitism in France was vitriolic, especially during the Six-Day War and the anti-Zionist campaign of the 1970s and 1980s.[citation needed] These stereotypes were strongly accepted, following the successes achieved by the extreme right-wing National Front and an increasing denial of the Holocaust in the 1990s.[citation needed] At the same time, in the mid-1990s began the critical engagement with National Socialism, collaboration and the responsibility of the Vichy Regime.[vague].[1]

At the beginning of the 21st century, antisemitism found new sources from those of leftist views and from the identification of a significant proportion of the Muslim immigrant population with the Palestinian cause on the one hand and with radical Islamism on the other.[2][3][4] However these views are not held by all French leftiusts or Muslims.[1][5][6] Most Jews in France, like most French Muslims, are of North African origin. Maud S. Mandel uses this as the basis of her inquiry Jews and Muslims in France: A History of a Conflict, where she attributes the roots of Muslim antisemitism in France to intercommunal relations in Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco; the course of decolonization, and eventually the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The idea of a rise of antisemitism in 21st-century France has been challenged by sociologists like Nonna Mayer, Laurent Mucchielli and others who indicated that antisemitic opinions were in continuous decline in France since the end of the second world war and that other forms of racism were more widespread than antisemitism.[7][8] This position was criticized by members of the French Jewish community.[9]

By early 2014 the number of French Jews making aliyah (migrating to Israel) had overtaken the number of American Jews. Although there is not necessarily a causal link, 70 percent of French Jews were concerned about insults or harassment and 60% about physical aggression because of their Jewishness, both figures being much higher than the European average.[10]

Extent of anti-Semitic acts[edit]

According to the annual reports on the fight against racism, antisemitism and xenophobia, conducted by the national human rights institution for France, the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (Commission nationale consultative des droits de l'homme, CNCDH), disturbing levels of antisemitic actions and threats recorded in France could be found in between 2002-2004, and in 2009. According to CNCDH, antisemitic actions are defined as homicides, attacks and attempted attacks, arson, degradations, and violence and assault and battery, while antisemitic threats are defined as covering speech acts, threatening gestures and insults, graffiti (inscriptions), pamphlets and emails.[11]

Antisemitic actions and

threats recorded in France

2001 219
2002 936
2003 601
2004 974
2005 508
2006 571
2007 402
2008 459
2009 815
2010 466
2011 389

Another source of data can be found in the Criminal Affairs and Pardon Board at the Ministry of Justice (Direction des affaires criminelles et des graces, DACG), regarding the number of indictments pronounced in the calendar year in relation to racist, antisemitic and discriminatory offences:[11]

Indictments relating to offences relating to racism Indictments relating principally to racist offences Indictments relating exclusively to racist offences
2001 211 152 115
2002 228 158 115
2003 208 145 105
2004 345 236 165
2005 573 380 253
2006 611 364 275
2007 577 423 306
2008 682 469 344
2009 579 397 288
2010 567 397 298

Public opinion surveys[edit]

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) opinion survey conducted in June 2002, 42 percent of French respondents believed Jews were more loyal to Israel than their own country, 42 percent said Jews have too much power in the business world and 46 percent believed Jews talked too much about the Holocaust. According to Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director "These findings are especially disturbing because they show that the old, classical form of antisemitism, which we had hoped was long gone in Europe, continues to be resilient".[12]

In 2004, the same opinion survey was conducted once again by the ADL. According to the report, 25 percent of the French public held antisemitic attitudes, down from 35 percent in 2002. 28 percent responded "probably true" to the statement, "Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own country", down from 42 percent in 2002. 15 percent responded "probably true" to the statement, "Jews don't care about anyone but their own kind", down from 20 percent.[13]

In May 2005, the ADL has published an opinion survey regarding European attitudes toward Jews. The 2005 survey indicated that over that year there has been some decline in the acceptance of certain traditional antisemitic stereotypes in France. 25 percent responded "probably true" to the statement, "Jews have too much power in the business world", down from 33 percent in 2004, while 24 percent responded "probably true" to the statement "Jews have too much power in international financial markets", down from 29 percent in 2004.[14]

Two years later, in May 2007, the ADL has published another opinion survey, which found that 22 percent of French respondents answered "probably true" to at least three of the four antisemitic stereotypes tested: Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country, Jews have too much power in the business world, Jews have too much power in international financial markets, Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust. According to the survey, there has been a significant shift in the opinions of respondents regarding the cause of violence directed against French Jews - from anti-Israel sentiment to anti-Jewish feelings instead.[15]

According to the report, "Intolerance, Prejudice and Discrimination - A European Report", published by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) organization in 2011, anti-Semitic attitudes in France the same year, as a whole, are less widespread than the European average. According to a survey conducted by FES, 27.7 percent agreed with the statement "Jews have too much influence in France" and 25.8 percent agreed with the statement "Jews in general do not care about anything or anyone but their own kind" (implying disloyalty to the nation).[16]

The following year, the ADL conducted an opinion survey in 10 European countries regarding antisemitic attitudes. According to the survey, the overall level of antisemitism in France increased to 24 percent of the population, up from to 20 percent in 2009 - 45 percent responded "probably true" to the statement, "Jews are more loyal to Israel" than their own country, up from 38 percent in 2009. 35 percent responded "probably true" to the statement, "Jews have too much power in the business world", up from 33 percent in 2009. 29 percent responded "probably true" to the statement "Jews have too much power in international financial markets", up from 27 percent in 2009.[17] Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, has said regarding those findings: "In France, you have a volatile mix. France has seen an increase in the level of anti-Semitism. At the same time, more people today believe that violence directed against European Jews is fueled by anti-Jewish attitudes as opposed to anti-Israel sentiment. Those increases are all the more disturbing in light of the shooting attack at the Jewish school in Toulouse."[17]

Responses to antisemitism and racism[edit]

  • In December 2014, The Organization of Jewish Europeans (OJE) started using humor to battle France's rising tide of antisemitism. It distributed boxes of Antisemitox: the first treatment against antisemitism. They contain three sweets, several detox patches and the text of the law stating the penalties faced by those who express antisemitic views. The poster for the campaign shows a doctor wearing a white coat and a stethoscope, brandishing a packet of the pills. "The honey candies contained in the packages work to immediately soften the antisemitic words and behavior that are the first symptoms", the organizers of the campaign said in a statement.[18]
  • In December 2013, six members of the French Jewish Defense league were arrested by French police for carrying out physical assaults against suspected anti-Semites in Lyon and Villeurbanne.[19]
  • In October 2013, Alexis Dubruel, a lawyer from eastern France, was disbarred by the French Bar Association after filing a motion to disqualify judge Albert Levy from presiding over a custody case due to his Jewish origins. In another case, a Paris court sentenced blogger who had been convicted for posting material inciting discrimination and violence against Jews to eight months in prison and a $670 fine, and ordered him to pay $2,000 in damages to people he targeted.[20]
  • In August 2012, members of the French Jewish Defense League attacked and beat a group of Arab men they suspected of perpetrating an anti-semitic attack the previous day.[21]
  • In November 2007, dismissed teacher Vincent Reynouard was sentenced to one year imprisonment and fined 10,000 euro for denying the Holocaust.[22]
  • On 26 October 2007, the district attorney of Paris imposed on Kemi Seba, founder of the banned Tribu KA, a sentence of five months in prison, a fine of 10,000 euro and the forfeiting of his civic rights for five years, for inciting racial hatred and denying crimes against humanity.[22]
  • On 21 March 2006, in a report submitted to Prime Minister de Villepin, the Commission nationale consultative des droits de lhomme (CNCDH), recommended measures to fight antisemitism.[23]
  • On 10 March a Paris court fined the comedian Dieudonné MBala MBala 5,000 euro for antisemitic comments.[23]
  • In November 2006, a Lyon court fined Bruno Gollnisch, second in command of the FN, 10,000 euro for questioning the existence of the Holocaust.[23]
  • On 15 January 2006, a French court fined Yahoo $15 million for selling Nazi memorabilia.[23]
  • In November 2005, the Foundation for Shoah Remembrance distributed a DVD about the Holocaust to 28,000 high school students, teachers and libraries in the Paris area.[24]
  • On 13 June 2005, Judge Emmanuel Binoche ruled that Internet service providers must filter access to the AAARGH (Association of Veteran Fans of Stories of War and Holocausts) which disseminates Holocaust denial.[24]
  • On 10 February 2005, the French Broadcasting Authority ordered the French satellite provider Eutelsat to stop transmitting broadcasts from the Iranian satellite TV channel Sahar 1, following screening of antisemitic content.[24]
  • On 13 December 2004 the Council of State, banned Hizballah’s al-Manar transmissions on the grounds that some of its programs were antisemitic.[25]
  • In July 2004, the Minister for Social Affairs asked the secretary general of the High Council for Integration, to evaluate government policy on the subject of combating antisemitism and to submit proposals.[26]
  • In June 2003, an appeals court in Lyon upheld editor Jean Plantin’s 6-month prison sentence, for publishing works doubting the scope of the Holocaust.[26]
  • In March 2003, A conference of Catholics and Jews took place in Paris to discuss antisemitism in Europe and the place of religion in the proposed EU constitution.[26]
  • In 2003, 19 people were arrested and 5 search warrants were issued against non-identified individuals, in connection with antisemitic offenses.[26]
  • On 12 April 2003, 3 students, one French, one Dutch and one Tunisian, were arrested for incitement to racial hatred and antisemitism.[27]
  • In August 2002, the government outlawed the rightist group Radical Unity.[27]
  • In February 2002, French Minister of Education Jack Lang set up a commission to examine Holocaust denial at the University of Lyon III.[27]
  • In 2001, the Ligue de Défense Juive, a French offshoot of the American Jewish Defense League, a far-right Zionist group banned in the United States, was formed, receiving considerable media attention, although most of the media decried the violence of the JDL, the principal weapon, it appears, in their fight against antisemitism.[28]
  • In 2001, The French anti-racism group, Action internationale pour la justice (AIPJ, another name for J’Accuse) sought a court injunction to block a Nazi US web portal Front 14, which groups some 400 racist websites.[28]
  • In 2000, the FN split resulted in diminished activity by the main anti-fascist organizations.[29]
  • In 2000, LICRA (Ligue internationale contre le racisme et l’antisémitisme), focused mainly on combating hate on the Internet and has set up branches abroad.[29]


  1. ^ a b "Manifestations of antisemitism in the European Union" (PDF). EUMC. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Smith, Craig S. (26 March 2006). "Jews in France Feel Sting as Antisemitism Surges Among Children of Immigrants". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-04. 
  3. ^ New York Times Magazine: "A Frenchman Or a Jew?" By Fernanda Eberstadt February 29, 2004
  4. ^ Haaretz: "French hatred of Jews goes far beyond Muslim antisemitism, says U.K. author" by Daniella Peled February 18, 2014
  5. ^ Wieviorka, Michel (2005). The Lure of Antisemitism - Hatred of Jews in Present-Day France. Netherlands: BRILL. ISBN 978-900416337-9. 
  6. ^ Deutsche Welt: "Alarmed by antisemitism, French Jews consider flight" March 17, 2014
  7. ^ Mucchielli, Laurent (5 March 2009). "Le " retour de l’antisémitisme " : discours rituel au dîner annuel du CRIF" (PDF) (in French). Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  8. ^ Mayer, Nonna (1 January 2004). "Nouvelle judéophobie ou vieil antisémitisme ?". Raisons politiques 16 (4): 91. doi:10.3917/rai.016.0091. 
  9. ^ Waintrater, Meïr. "Le déni de l’antisémitisme" (in French). CRIF. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b "Antisemitism Summary overview of the situation in the European Union 2001–2011" (PDF). FRA. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  12. ^ "ADL Survey of Five European Countries Finds One in Five Hold Strong Anti-Semitic Sentiments; Majority Believes Canard of Jewish Disloyalty". ADL. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  13. ^ "ADL Survey Finds Some Decrease In Anti-Semitic Attitudes In Ten European Countries". ADL. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  14. ^ "Attitudes Toward Jews in Twelve European Countries" (PDF). ADL. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  15. ^ "Attitudes Toward Jews and the Middle East in Five European Countries" (PDF). ADL. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  16. ^ "Intolerance, Prejudice and Discrimination A European Report" (PDF). Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  17. ^ a b "ADL Survey In Ten European Countries Finds Anti-Semitism At Disturbingly High Levels". ADL. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ Report: French Jewish Defense League stages attacks on 'anti-Semites'
  20. ^ French lawyer disbarred for motion to replace Jewish judge
  21. ^ France's soaring anti-Semitism lures Jewish Defense League vigilantes out of shadows
  22. ^ a b "FRANCE 2007". The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  23. ^ a b c d "FRANCE 2006". The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  24. ^ a b c "FRANCE 2005". The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  25. ^ "FRANCE 2004". The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  26. ^ a b c d "FRANCE 2003-4". The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  27. ^ a b c "FRANCE 2002-3". The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  28. ^ a b "FRANCE 2001-2". The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  29. ^ a b "FRANCE 2000-1". The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  30. ^ "antisemitism". Retrieved 29 March 2015. 

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