CRIF expects a new strategy to fight antisemitism

The Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) expects the public authorities to come up with a new and targeted strategy to fight antisemitism, on the eve of its annual dinner to which the “extreme” presidential candidates are not invited.

After being cancelled two years in a row due to the pandemic, this 36th edition will bring together politicians, ambassadors, religious figures, trade unionists, artists, media personalities, etc., a total of a thousand people expected at the Caroussel du Louvre, according to the organizers.

It will have the presidential election as a backdrop. The almost-candidate Emmanuel Macron is expected to give a speech, but as head of state. Other contenders for the Elysée Palace present, but who will not speak: Valérie Pécresse, president of the Ile-de-France region, Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, or the environmentalist candidate Yannick Jadot. Fabien Roussel (PCF) declined because of a meeting.

On the other hand, Marine Le Pen (RN), Eric Zemmour (Reconquête), and Jean-Luc Mélenchon (LFI) were not invited. “As traditionally since this dinner is organiseed, representatives of extreme parties are not invited,” Francis Kalifat, president of the CRIF, the political showcase of the largest Jewish population in Europe (half a million people), told AFP.

“The extremes are dangerous for France and dangerous for the Jews. History has shown us that,” he added.

Among the themes that are dear to him and that he intends to recall is the fight against antisemitism.

“The strategy, through global plans to fight against various hatreds, is not the right one,” he said, referring to the last three-year plans to fight racism and antisemitism put in place in 2012, 2015, and 2018.

“We need to move to a targeted strategy, because each of the hatreds responds to different sources,” he stressed. “I know that this has been a concern of governments” in recent years. “But it is clear that antisemitism is on the rise,” Mr Kalifat said.

He argues that antisemitic acts recorded by the Ministry of the Interior on the basis of complaints “have increased by 74%”, from 339 in 2020 to 559 in 2021.

On the contrary, they have “decreased by 14%” compared to 2019 (617 acts), the ministry stressed, interviewed by AFP. Place Beauvau considers that the year 2020 is not representative because of the health crisis.

But for Mr. Kalifat, “if we add the fact that 80% of victims do not file a complaint” and the hateful comments targeting Jews on the Internet, “then we have the real measure of what antisemitism represents in our country.

Two years ago, the CRIF set up an “observatory of antisemitic hate online”, which records about “50,000 to 60,000 hateful contents every year” on the Web, he noted.

At the CRIF dinner in 2019, Emmanuel Macron had announced that he wanted to broaden the definition of antisemitism to include anti-Zionism. Following this, the National Assembly (in 2019), then the Senate (in 2021) adopted a text taking up the definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), already validated by the European Parliament and some twenty countries, including 16 EU countries. However, this text is not binding.

“We have the impression that these are declarations that have no consequences”, regrets Mr Kalifat.


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