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January 11, 2016

Fighting Anti-Semitism, Fighting for France

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

Roger Cukierman
President of CRIF, the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France

This blog orig­i­nally appeared in The Huffington Post

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One year ago this week, an ISIS-affiliated Islamic extremist murdered four Jews at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Paris. That attack followed the shootings of the Charlie Hebdo journalists and police officers just two days earlier, a heinous act also committed by ISIS trained terrorists.

In 2012, a terrorist, who claimed affiliation with al-Qaeda, killed three soldiers in Montauban and days later murdered a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse. According to leaked documents in the ongoing investigation of the massive November 13 attacks in Paris, Jewish targets also were considered by the ISIS-affiliated terrorists.

Anti-Semitism is a core tenet of Islamic extremism, so it should not come as a surprise that French Jews are attacked in tandem with representatives and symbols of the French Republic: soldiers, police, and those exercising freedom of the press. For too many years, though, the wave of anti-Semitism that began in 2000 was considered by French public opinion and French authorities as simply the import of the Arab-Israeli conflict and thus not the responsibility of France.

The Hyper Cacher murders marked a turning point toward an understanding that the French Jewish community and the French Republic share more than common enemies. They share a common destiny.

In a major speech to the French parliament just days after the attack, Prime Minister Manuel Valls admitted that French society had let down its Jewish compatriots by not reacting sufficiently. He vowed to implement a multi-pronged strategy against anti-Semitism and against radicalization in the Muslim community. That work is underway.

French authorities waged a similar battle against radicalization and anti-Semitism a century ago among mostly rural Christian communities. Public policies were implemented to emphasize critical thinking and secularism in educational institutions. Those efforts should be reinforced to address Islamic extremism in schools today.

In 2015, almost 1,000 students were identified by their teachers as at risk of radicalization. In some schools in France — fortunately a minority of them — the anti-Semitism of the past 15 years presaged a rise of other illiberal tendencies: homophobia, sexism, conspiracy theories, and hatred of the French Republic.

Increasing Islamic extremism has contributed to the political gains of the far right, which also has a long history of anti-Semitism. The mutual reinforcement of these movements — with the far right contributing to radicalization among French Muslims — is not good for the Jews nor does it augur well for democratic values.

Today the situation in France is grave and very different from the conditions familiar to Jews living in the U.S. Comparing eight years of ADL’s records for anti-Semitic assaults in the U.S. and data from SPCJ, the French Jewish security agency, we see that French Jews are nearly 40 times more at risk of being attacked than American Jews (after adjusting for the size of the two communities). While it is illegal in France to keep statistics based on ethnicity or religion, strong anecdotal evidence suggests that the overwhelming majority of the assailants are young men of North African descent.

According to a 2013 survey of European Jewish communities by the European Union, sixty percent of French Jews feared being the victim of an anti-Semitic assault. Half of French Jews always or usually avoid wearing anything that will identify them as Jewish. Fearing for their physical safety, a growing number of French Jews simply have left their native country. The number of French Jews who moved to Israel doubled in 2014 from the prior year to more than 7,000, and reached almost 8,000 in 2015. While no hard statistics are available, Jews also emigrated in large numbers to the UK, the US, and Canada. Moreover, most of these are core members of the community: families with children, identified Jews committed to their faith, people who feel that they have been forced to choose between their beliefs and their safety.

If the majority of French Jews lose confidence that their situation will improve, those numbers will continue to grow, leaving Europe’s largest Jewish community much diminished and on the brink of collapse.

Our analysis and other polls have shown the French Muslim community to be one of the most moderate Muslim communities in Europe, but the terrorists who emerged from it have already deeply affected the Jewish community. Will Islamic extremists, with their intrinsic anti-Semitism, radicalize enough French Muslims to cause half a million French Jews to flee? Or, will the enduring French values of equality and fraternity prevail among the French Muslim community of eight million as an antidote to radicalism? Indeed, let us not forget, it was a young Muslim employee, Lassana Bathily, who saved six Jews at the Hyper Cacher market by hiding them in a walk-in freezer, an act which could have cost him his life

We all have roles to play. The government must ensure security for all French citizens, allow Jews to live openly as Jews, educate the public against anti-Semitism, and combat radicalization through a variety of means including better integration of French Muslims into French society. French Muslim leaders must encourage their communities to assist the authorities to identify those at risk of radicalization or already radicalized. Political parties committed to the values of the French Republic must prevail over parties who oppose those core ideas. Jewish leaders in France and around the world must continue to raise the alarm and make clear what is at stake: as goes the fight against anti-Semitism, so goes the French Republic.

In the words of President François Hollande, “it is not the Jews who should be leaving France, but the anti-Semites,” and of Prime Minister Valls: because if French Jews leave, “France will no longer be France.”

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November 23, 2015

Anti-Semite Claims Prominent BDS Activist Invited Him To Berkeley Conference

Anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist Kevin Barrett claims he was accepted to present a paper at the 3rd Islamophobia and Civil Society Conference in Paris, sponsored by University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Race & Gender.

Kevin Barrett's GoFundMe page

Kevin Barrett’s GoFundMe page

The conference, which appears to have recently been canceled, was organized by BDS activist and Berkeley professor Hatem Bazian, the Chairman of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the leading organization providing anti-Zionist training and education to students and Muslim community organizations in the country.

Barrett, a former University of Wisconsin-Madison instructor, is a fre­quent con­trib­u­tor to Iran’s Eng­lish lan­guage pro­pa­ganda news net­work Press TV and Vet­er­ans Today, a U.S.-based web­site that presents anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries as news. Even Barrett himself seems surprised he was accepted to present at Bazian’s conference. On his GoFundMe page, where he has raised $2,175 to fund his trip to Paris, he wrote, “Amazingly, I just had a hard-hitting, truth-telling paper accepted for a mainstream academic conference: The 3rd Islamophobia and Civil Society Conference to be held in Paris December 11th-12th 2015.” Barrett hoped that by presenting at the conference, he could send the message, “Keep our universities open to people who are willing to think taboo thoughts and ask the hard questions!”

In Barrett’s synopsis of the paper he was accepted to present, titled “Taboo on Questioning: Silencing the Muslim Other,” he alludes to his typical anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. In a discussion on whether the January 2015 terror attacks at the Charlie Hebdo office and a kosher supermarket in Paris were “largely fabricated by Western security agencies to mobilize public opinion for a war on Islam,” Barrett examines questions like “What are we to make of Netanyahu’s repeated threats during the run-up to the shootings that if France recognized or sided with Palestine it would be hit by terrorists?”

Trying to blame Jews or Israel for acts of terrorism is nothing new for Barrett. Some recent examples of his anti-Semitic conspiracy theories include:

  • In a Novem­ber 13 Vet­er­ans Today arti­cle titled “Another French False Flag?” Bar­rett states that “Since we now know the Char­lie Hebdo attack was a…false flag by the usual sus­pects (NATO hard­lin­ers and Zion­ists), can we safely make the same assump­tion about these new Fri­day the 13th Paris atroc­i­ties? I think we can.” Bar­rett added “The first ques­tion, as always, is: Who gains? And the answer, as always, is: Author­i­tar­ian insid­ers. Zion­ists. Mil­i­tarists. Islam­o­phobes. New World Order-Out-Of-Chaos freaks.”
  • In Barrett’s book We Are Not Char­lie Hebdo! Free Thinkers Ques­tion the French 9/11 he claims that the January Paris attacks were just one in a long his­tory of events – such as the 9/11 attacks and the 2001 anthrax poi­son­ings – per­pe­trated by Israel in order to “incite hatred of Mus­lims and sol­i­dar­ity with Israel.”
  • In a Jan­u­ary 20 Press TV article titled “Zion­ist NWO mur­ders Iran­ian gen­eral, Amer­i­can film­maker,” Barrett claims that “The Zion­ists cre­ated ISIL and sent it to fight Mus­lims and Chris­tians in Syria and Iraq…New World Order Zion­ism is also tar­get­ing the USA for destruction.”
  • Bar­rett stated in a Feb­ru­ary 17 Press TV arti­cle titled “9/11 attack was Zion­ist coup d-etat to seize power in US: Scholar” that “…Zion­ist pre-emptive mur­der­ers excel at ‘killing the future’…A team of Zionist-liked pro­fes­sional killers exe­cuted a total of 77 peo­ple [2011 attacks in Norway], while Zionist-freemasonic assets in the Nor­we­gian police and mil­i­tary stood by.”
  • In the same Feb­ru­ary 2015 arti­cle Bar­rett stated that “The Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 attacks in the United States were a Zion­ist ‘coup d’etat’ to seize power in the coun­try and launch a per­ma­nent war on Islam on behalf of Israel…”

 

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November 17, 2015

Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories Crop Up In Wake Of Paris Attacks

In the after­math of the wave of coordinated ter­ror attacks across Paris, con­spir­acy the­o­ries linking Jews or Israel with the attacks have begun to sur­face in the U.S and abroad.

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Tweet from Iranian news channel Al-Alam

Supposed links between Israel and the Paris attacks have been discussed in international media outlets:

  • Iran’s Fars News Agency (FNA) published a report on November 16 that read in part: “After the terrorist attacks in Paris, it was once again confirmed that French Jews were informed that the tragedy would happen. Just as it happened in the September 11 attacks 14 years ago, when Jews working in the Twin Towers did not attend to work.” The report added that “Zionist officials wanted to exploit [the attacks] to achieve their specific goals.” The report listed several conspiratorial theories about Jewish responsibility for the September 11 attacks.
  • On November 14, Egypt-based Al-Asima TV interviewed Colonel Hatem Saber as an expert on international terrorism to comment on the Paris attacks. Saber suggested that Israel stands behind the terrorist attacks in Paris because France agreed to provide Egypt with arms, which was considered threatening to Israel.
  • A cartoon tweeted by the Iranian news channel Al-Alam on November 17, shows Israeli PM Netanyahu putting an explosive vest on an ISIS terrorist in the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower.

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    Tweet from Qatari newspaper Al-Arab

  • A cartoon depicting Israel as the driving force behind the attack was published in Qatar’s Al-Arab newspaper on November 17 and circulated on Twitter. It shows Israel as the ultimate operator of the small figure in the picture, which represents terror.

These theories about the Paris attacks are similar to past conspiracies that have been circulated in the Middle East about Israel being behind ISIS.

In the U.S., fringe anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rists, who rarely miss an oppor­tu­nity to exploit tragedies to pro­mote their hatred of Jews, blamed Jews or Israel for the attacks, much as they did after the January terror attacks in Paris.

  • Mark Glenn, a vir­u­lently anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rist, posted an image on his blog The Ugly Truth on November 15 of a dog thinking “All the ISIS guys smell like Mossad” in a post titled “France should have beefed up anti-terror laws.”  In a November 16 post on the attacks, Glenn wrote “Until people begin to grasp this simple fact, that there is no such thing as a ‘good Jew’, and that Judaism–AT ITS CORE AND FROM THE MOMENT OF ITS INCEPTION–is and has been the embodiment of religiously-induced mental illness, the world will continue to march at break-neck speed towards its own destruction, the people of the Middle East being its first victims, and then everyone else, one by one, taking their turn as well.”
  • On November 16 in Vet­er­ans Today, a U.S.-based web­site that presents anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries as news, a Pakistani contributor named Sajjad Shuakat wrote in an article titled “Is Israel Behind Paris Attacks?” that “…we are living in a world of Zionist-controlled media which is very strong and whatever it release [sic] by concealing truth and propagating Israeli interests as part of the disinformation, impress the politicians and general masses in the whole world.”

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    Retweet from anti-Israel activist Mary Hughes-Thompson

  • Kevin Bar­rett, an anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rist and fre­quent con­trib­u­tor to Iran’s Eng­lish lan­guage pro­pa­ganda news net­work, Press TV, wrote a November 13 arti­cle in Vet­er­ans Today titled “Another French False Flag?” In the article Barrett states that “Since we now know the Charlie Hebdo attack was a…false flag by the usual suspects (NATO hardliners and Zionists), can we safely make the same assumption about these new Friday the 13th Paris atrocities? I think we can.” Barrett added “The first question, as always, is: Who gains? And the answer, as always, is: Authoritarian insiders. Zionists. Militarists. Islamophobes. New World Order-Out-Of-Chaos freaks.”
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Tweet from anti-Israel activist Mary Hughes-Thompson

At least one anti-Israel activist also linked Jews and Israel to the attacks:

  • On November 14, Anti-Israel activist Mary Hughes-Thompson, co-founder of the Free Gaza Move­ment, tweeted that “I haven’t accused Israel of involvement. Still, Bibi [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] is upset about the European settlement boycott. So who knows.” She also posted a cartoon on her Twitter page depicting an anti-Semitic caricature of a Jewish man saying “Merci [Thank you]” to an ISIS fighter, with the comment that “Everything is working out as planned. Soon those White goyim will be on their knees.”

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