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Paris, 4 December 2019

“Following a 3 hour Q&A devoted mainly to terrorist dangers in France, the National Assembly (Parliament’s Lower Chamber) spent a further 2 hours debating the draft Resolution to adopt the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) Definition of Antisemitism,” explained Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, who was present throughout.

“MP Sylvain Maillard, from the majority governing party, led the presentations for adoption, followed by other centrist leaders. Among them was Mr. Meyer Habib, elected to represent the overseas French expatriates of the Mediterranean region, including Israel,” added Samuels.

4 Dec. 2019 1
Samuels at the National Assembly with MP Maillard (left) and with MP Habib (right).

Several “yes” speakers listed the names of French Jewish victims of antisemitic terror and the string of attacks, from the 1980 rue Copernic synagogue bombing to the Toulouse Jewish school killings in 2012, from Ilan Halimi tortured to death in 2006 to the murder of Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll in 2018.

The extreme left opposition took positions that “anti-Zionism should be considered valid as ‘freedom of expression against Israeli colonization’,” as claimed by MP Sabine Rubin. Socialist MP Michèle Victory claimed that the Resolution was “a slap at all dispossessed people.”

MP François Pupponi, who quit the Socialist Party in 2018 to become a moderate-left independent, stated: “Hate for Israel is hate for the Jews. There is no doubt that anti-Zionism has become a mask to conceal antisemitism.”

The ballot ended with 154 votes in favour of the Resolution, 72 against.

The only Jewish organizations present were the French Jewry umbrella body CRIF and the Wiesenthal Centre.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner reiterated “the importance of the IHRA Definition as a tool in the training of teachers, police and judges, against antisemitism and hate and to rebuild social cohesion.”

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Samuels at the Parliamentary hearing with CRIF President Francis Kalifat (left)
and with Interior Minister Castaner (right) at the February 2019 CRIF dinner, where President Macron
announced his commitment to adopt the IHRA Definition.

“Adopting the Definition was a historic day for France... The question is how it will impact on the legal, educational and security measures in battling antisemitism,” concluded Samuels.