Counter-speech Against a French Anti-Semite » ADL Blogs
February 4, 2014 Off

Counter-speech Against a French Anti-Semite

Counter-speech is a vital tool to com­bat hate speech, and ADL’s coun­ter­part in French-speaking Switzer­land, CICAD, pro­vided an excel­lent exam­ple of counter-speech last night against the anti-Semitic French come­dian, Dieudonné.

CICAD stand near the Nyon theater, featuring Dieudonné quotes like, “For me, the Jews are a cult, a fraud.”

CICAD stand near the Nyon the­ater, fea­tur­ing Dieudonné quotes like, “For me, the Jews are a cult, a fraud.”

Dieudonné, who has been con­victed and fined mul­ti­ple times for anti-Semitic speech in France, sched­uled sev­eral per­for­mances in Nyon, Switzer­land, a town just four miles over the border.

Last night’s per­for­mance coin­cided with the British government’s deci­sion to declare Dieudonné per­sona non grata, for­bid­ding him entry into the UK.  Dur­ing the per­for­mance, Dieudonné referred to Queen Eliz­a­beth II and made his often anti-Semitic quenelle gesture.

The Nyon munic­i­pal­ity decided on Jan­u­ary 13 not to ban Dieudonné’s per­for­mances, while “firmly con­demn­ing any racist and/or anti-Semitic state­ments.”  Fol­low­ing that deci­sion, CICAD sought and received per­mis­sion from the Nyon munic­i­pal­ity to set up an infor­ma­tion booth next to the the­ater to pro­vide audi­ence mem­bers with doc­u­men­ta­tion of Dieudonné’s anti-Semitic hate speech, includ­ing Holo­caust denial.

ADL cham­pi­ons counter-speech and edu­ca­tion to address hate speech, and this approach is a cen­tral theme of Viral Hate: Con­tain­ing Its Spread on the Inter­net, the most recent book by ADL National Direc­tor Abra­ham H. Fox­man and Christo­pher Wolf, ADL Civil Rights Chair.  CICAD reminds us that this strat­egy works well on the ground too.

CICAD will be pre­sent­ing a French-language ver­sion of ADL’s Con­fronting Anti-Semitism: Myths and Facts at the Geneva Inter­na­tional Book Fair, April 30-May 4, one of the most impor­tant in Europe with almost 100,000 vis­i­tors each year.