Macron Says France Will Adopt IHRA Anti-Semitism Definition

February 20, 2019
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at the 34th annual dinner of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF – Conseil Representatif des Institutions juives de France) on February 20, 2019, at the Louvre Carrousel in Paris. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Feb. 20 that France will be adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) of anti-Semitism in light of the rising anti-Semitism in the country.

Macron reportedly told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a Feb. 20 phone call that they would be instituting that definition of anti-Semitism, and told French Jewish leaders at a Council of Jewish Institutions in France dinner that evening that the French government will define “anti-Zionism as a modern-day form of anti-Semitism.”

“Our country, and for that matter all of Europe and most Western democracies, seems to be facing a resurgence of anti-Semitism unseen since World War II,” Macron said.

Macron also said at the dinner the French parliament will take up legislation to crack down on hate speech online and that his interior minister will look to break up three far-right groups: Bastion Social, Blood and Honour Hexagone and Combat 18.

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt praised Macron in a tweet:

American Jewish Committee Europe Director Simone Rodan-Benzaquen said in a statement, “President Macron’s declaration endorsing the working definition is critically important and most welcome. However, additional substantive, sustained, and meaningful steps are urgently required to seriously confront the scourge of anti-Semitism that has strikingly strong roots in French society.”

Recent French government statistics have revealed that anti-Semitic incidents increased by 74 percent from 2017 to 2018 and anti-Semitic assaults increasing by 270 percent in the same timeframe.

“France remains the most serious locus for anti-Semitic acts, a place where Jews face tragic examples of extremism from radical Islamists – who perpetrated the 2018 Knoll murder, the 2015 Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket attack, and the horrifying 2012 attack on the Jewish school in Toulouse – as well as attacks from the left and the right,” the ADL wrote in a Feb. 20 post on their website. “Even memorials to those slain in anti-Semitic attacks are being targeted: last week, two trees planted in memory of Ilan Halimi, the 23-year-old Jewish man abducted and killed over a decade ago by a gang of Islamist thugs, were found to have been mutilated and chopped.

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