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Paris, 26 July 2012

In a letter to French Culture Minister, Aurélie Filippetti, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, and President of Centre Simon Wiesenthal - France, Richard Odier, expressed "the grave concern of its membership at the abuse of the prestigious Avignon Festival 2012 as a platform for the delegitimization of the State of Israel and as a collateral instrument of incitement against the Jews of France who maintain an affinity with the Jewish State."

The Centre noted that "on 16 July, the multimedia 'Jerusalem - Cast Lead', methodically and deliberately screened a series of United Nations resolutions - from 1952 until the present - that charged Israel with responsibility for every possible evil in the Middle East and beyond, turning it into an outlaw-rogue entity." 

Samuels stressed that "there was no mention of the terrorism and aggressions which - since its birth - have victimized Israel, its citizens, and the Jewish diaspora. There was no mention of the authors and lobbyists of these UN resolutions : Khaddafi, Assad father and son and other such dictators, whose countries chaired and ran the Human Rights Committee and other UN agencies." 

Odier argued that "the Avignon Festival and its patrons/ funders - principally your Ministry - have this summer endorsed a hatefest that, according to the 'Working Definition of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency', is a contributory factor to antisemitism . 

Indeed, it is ironic that Avignon - a city culturally privileged by its Jewish community from medieval times - has violated Council of Europe provisions against ethnic, religious and national discrimination. Above all, 'Jerusalem - Cast Lead' reinforces the Judeophobia of those who now iconize the terrorrist Mohammed Mera, encouraging further Toulouse-style atrocities." 

Samuels and Odier called on the Minister, "in view of our past collaboration on campaigns against racism and genocide"... "to now condemn the Avignon Festival's presentation of 'Jerusalem - Cast Lead', to investigate and discipline those responsible and to withdraw government funding from Avignon 2013 if further such programming is planned"... 

"Indeed, we view these measures in the spirit of President François Hollande's commitment this week - at the 70th anniversary of the Vel d'Hiv Raids - to clamp down 'on antisemitism with the greatest determination.'" 

"Such measures will assist our members' decisions regarding their eventual participation and support to the Festival" concluded the Centre.