Paris, 3 March 2022

The Annual CRIF (Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions) dinner is usually attended by the President of France. On 24 February, President Macron was unable to attend, due to an emergency European meeting on the Ukraine/Russia crisis.

The Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels, discussed the Amnesty International issue and the ongoing BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign targeting Israel and the Jews, with French Prime Minister, Jean Castex.

Castex then took the podium to apologize for President Macron’s absence, then following with a powerful praise of Israel.

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Samuels with French Prime Minister Jean Castex (photo Alain Azria).

Four days later, in a Parliamentary session on Ukraine, again outstanding he stated:
“Putin lied to President Macron...
He lied to the international community...
He lied to his own people...
President Zelensky is not a neo-Nazi...
But Putin is a liar.”

Samuels then discussed with French Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, the issue of physical insecurity of Jewish institutions in France: synagogues, schools, cemeteries and other community institutions. Samuels raised the importance of the IHRA Definition of antisemitism as an instrument for wider adoption.

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Samuels with French Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin.

The following day, on Friday 25 February, came a case in point. In the lead up to elections across France on 10 and 24 April, there are often insulting graffiti. Those attacking candidate Eric Zemmour were beyond the pale:
- “Dirty Jew” splashed over the poster “Eric Zemmour 2022” and his party slogan “Impossible is Not French”;
- Another of his posters was painted “Public Urinal for Profit.”

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Presidential candidate Eric Zemmour posters with insulting graffiti
(source: GenerationZ on Twitter).

Zemmour, a journalist from an Algerian Jewish family, is a questionable candidate for President of France. He is unacceptable to the mainstream Jewish voter, in view of his comments exonerating the Vichy Nazi collaborator, Marshal Petain.

He also insists that of the over 70,000 Jews deported to their deaths, most were foreigners, downplaying the relevance of the Shoah for France.

“Despite Zemmour’s other hateful positions, an antisemitic attack on him cannot be acceptable... It is ironic that such inscriptions were found in the outskirts of Vichy,” concluded Samuels.