French lawmakers pass resolution calling Israel hatred a form of antisemitism

The lower house of France’s parliament approved a draft resolution that calls hate of Israel a form of antisemitism.

The 577 members of the National Assembly voted on the draft, which also calls on the government to join other European nations in adopting the definition of antisemitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

The resolution was backed by 154 lawmakers while 74 opposed it.

The IHRA definition states that some forms of vitriol against Israel, including comparing it to Nazi Germany, are examples of antisemitism, though criticizing Israel’s policies is not.

“The National Assembly… believes that the operational definition used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance allows for the most precise designation of what contemporary anti-Semitism is,” the text of the resolution reads in part. “It considers it an effective instrument for combating antisemitism in its modern and renewed form, in that it encompasses manifestations of hatred toward the State of Israel justified solely by the perception of the latter as a Jewish collective.”

Israel hailed the move, with Foreign Minister Israel Katz calling it “an important step in the battle against antisemitism” and urging more countries to follow suit.

Jewish Agency head Isaac Herzog tweeted: “We, as the representatives of the Jewish people around the world, commend and salute France’s National Assembly and President Emmanuel Macron for a historic decision that stands as a moral beacon against manifestations of antisemitism and hatred of Israel.”

Crif, France’s Jewish umbrella group and EJC affiliate, hailed the decision and called it an important tool to help officials understand antisemitism.

“This vote is above all a step forward for France, which joins the group of 20 countries that have adopted the challenge of the IHRA. It is a necessary step to strengthen the fight against this evil which represents more than 50% of the racist acts in our country,” Crif head Francis Kalifat said.

Lawmaker Sylvain Maillard of President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling LREM centrist party touched off weeks of debates in French media with his draft resolution.

In October, 39 organisations wrote an open letter to National Assembly President Richard Ferrand warning against passing the resolution.

The letter argued against a separate definition of antisemitism, as it would “weaken the universalist approach” to combating all forms of racism” and compromise “defense of freedom of expression and assembly for groups and activists that must be allowed to defend the rights of Palestinians and criticise Israel’s policy without being falsely accused of antisemitism.”

Maillard defended the draft, telling La Croix that in France today, saying “dirty Zionist” means “dirty Jew.”

The draft denounces “hate toward Israel justified only by its perception as a Jewish collective.”

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