“We call on you to use the unfortunate “Apartheid” misnomer as the occasion to join Australia, Canada and the United States in boycotting the ‘Durban 4’ travesty.”

Paris, 24 May 2021

Mr President,

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre is shocked at the undiplomatic and insulting language of Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, in using “Apartheid” in reference to the State of Israel.

Not since President de Gaulle’s June 1967 “Six Day War” reference to “the Jews as an elite people, sure of itself and domineering,” has a French political leader made such a damaging statement towards the Jewish community.

Perhaps, we should include the October 1980 gaffe of then Prime Minister Raymond Barre, on the bombing of the Copernic synagogue: “This odious attack wished to strike the Israelites who were going to the synagogue, instead killed ‘innocent Frenchmen’ who were crossing rue Copernic.”

Not all of the four victims were Frenchmen and most of the 46 wounded were also “innocent Israelites.”

Last week’s Arab rioters in Israel were a minority inspired and ignited by Hamas, designated as a “terrorist” movement by the European Union, among others. They were following the Hamas Charter, which outlines a genocidal policy against all Jews everywhere. Indeed, the same holds for the so-called pro-Palestinian demonstrators, who were also following the Hamas protocol and turned violent against nearby identifiable Jews.

A majority of Israeli Arabs refused a land transfer deal for peace, lest they come under the Palestinian Authority. They see their Israeli citizen status as far from an Apartheid. Their election of Arab parties and representatives to the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset) was never the case in Apartheid South Africa. Israeli Muslim Arabs also integrate the Israeli Defence Forces on a voluntary basis and represent a free and active minority in Israel’s social, academic and economic life.

It is unlikely that the Foreign Minister’s message carries favour with Arab countries in a Middle East and North Africa open to the Abraham Accords.

It is likely, however, to incite and strengthen French Islamist and Jihadi violence against the Jews of France.

Mr. President, there is a way to undo part of the damage. The “Israel = Apartheid” canard was born at the 2001 United Nations World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) in Durban, South Africa. Far from its original intent, the WCAR became a hatefest riding on the wave of the Second Intifada.

As the only Jew elected to the Durban International Steering Committee (ISC), on arrival, I was physically expelled. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Centre’s Director for Global Social Action, and I were attacked and the Durban synagogue was under siege by hatemongers brandishing banners extolling Hitler.

In short, Durban was hijacked by hate and became the worst antisemitic pogrom since the 1930s Nazi Germany.

The follow-up Durban 2 and 3 were opened by then Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, spewing a stream of Judeophobia.

Mr. President, you have taken a strong position against Islamism, to ensure that French Islam endorses the values of the Republic. We call on you to use the unfortunate “Apartheid” misnomer as the occasion to join Australia, Canada and the United States in boycotting the “Durban 4” travesty.

Most respectfully,

Dr. Shimon Samuels
Director for International Relations
Simon Wiesenthal Centre

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“There is no Freedom without Justice.” (Simon Wiesenthal, 1908-2005)