At a memorial service marking the two year anniversary of the massacre at the Jewish Otzar Hatorah School in Toulouse, France, the country’s interior minister, Manuel Valls, of the Socialist Party, strongly condemned both anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in stark terms, and drew a clear connection between the two.
Ha’aretz reported that Valls said:
It feeds off hate for Israel. It feeds off anti-Zionism. Because anti-Zionism is an invitation to anti-Semitism. …
Criticism of Israel that is based on anti-Zionism — that’s anti-Semitism today, this is the refuge of those who do not accept the State of Israel.
The continued threats experienced by French Jews, who currently make up the world’s third-largest Jewish community, have prompted two-thirds of them to consider leaving. A large share of those are considering relocating to Israel.
Mohammed Merah, the Islamist responsible for the Toulouse attacks in March 2012 that included an assault on a Jewish school killing 4 people, claimed that he committed the crime to “avenge the Palestinian children.”
Valls’ characterization of anti-Zionism as “anti-Semitism today” comes on the heels of similar comments made by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who stated in his historic speech before the Knesset earlier this year that attacks on Israel are a “mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism.” Last week, when he addressed the Knesset, British Prime Minister David Cameron said, “Delegitimising the State of Israel is wrong, it is abhorrent and together we will defeat it.”
Using opposition to Israel as a substitute for anti-Semitism has been going on for a long time. Rep. John Lewis recounted in a 2002 op-ed that the great civil rights leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism.”
In the wake of the Durban World Conference on Racism in 2001, the trend of using anti-Zionism as a proxy for anti-Semitism has accelerated. In 2005, Gerald Steinberg of NGO-Monitor outlined how the principles that were discussed at Durban were used against Israel.
The Durban conference crystallized the strategy of delegitimizing Israel as “an apartheid regime” through international isolation based on the South African model. This plan is driven by UN-based groups as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which exploit the funds, slogans and rhetoric of the human rights movement.
On this basis a series of political battles have been fought in the UN and in the media. These include the myth of the Jenin “massacre,” the separation barrier, the academic boycott, and, currently, the church-based anti-Israel divestment campaign.
Singling Israel out for condemnation is a modern form of anti-Semitism; recognizing that fact has become increasingly acceptable in the highest political circles.
According to the JTA news service, Paris VIII University in Saint-Denis shut down a pro-Israel event today due to fear of disruption by anti-Israel activists.
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