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French Editor Fined for Letter Threatening European Jews

Serge July, editor of the leftwing daily Liberation, was found guilty of “incitement to racial hatred” by a French court yesterday for publishing a letter last summer threatening violent retaliation against Jews who support Israel.

The panel of three judges fined July 5,000 Francs ($700) on grounds that an editor “should exert a proper control” over what is published in the form of letters from readers. July and his paper, which is known for its anti-racist and humanitarian positions, were sued by the International League Against Anti-Semitism and Racism (LICRA).

The letter came from an Arab resident of France who wrote that in retaliation for Israel’s bombing of Beirut, Arabs would launch terrorist attacks in Europe not only against Israeli targets but against all Jews who support Israel. The court held that the letter was “an open appeal to murder which became a real threat because of a tense and explosive situation.” The terrorist attack on the Jo Goldenberg restaurant on the Rue Des Rosiers in the old Jewish quarter of Paris occurred nine days after the letter appeared in Liberation. The grenade assault killed six and wounded 22 people.

LICRA issued a communique yesterday welcoming the court’s decision as “a step forward” in the fight against racism and anti-Semitism. Some LICRA members and members of other Jewish organizations hold the view that “leftwing anti-Semitism” is a greater threat to West European Jews than the extreme rightwing or neo-fascists.

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