French court fines boycott-Israel activists for discrimination

(JTA) — A French court imposed a $1,300 fine on members of an anti-Israel group who called on supermarket shoppers to boycott Israeli products.

The Court of Appeals of Colmar near Strasbourg fined each of the group’s 12 members individually on Wednesday for their participation in a pro-boycott activity in 2009-2010, which the court qualified as “provocation to discrimination.” The court also gave the activists a suspended jail sentence, according to a report by the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities.

The ruling reversed a 2012 verdict by the Correctional Tribunal of Mulhouse, which found the defendants not guilty. Prosecutors filed the appeal, CRIF said in a statement.

The actions for which the defendants were sentenced took place in 2009 in a supermarket in Mulhouse and again in 2010. Some of the defendants received a double fine for each action, CRIF reported.

The perpetrators were sentenced in accordance with strict anti-discrimination laws, including one passed by the French parliament in 2003 known as the Lellouche Law, after the lawmaker who drafted it, Pierre Lellouche.

In September, seven activists were given a $650 fine for a similar action in 2010 in a supermarket in Alençon.

Yet the Court of Cassation — France’s highest criminal court of appeal — on Nov. 19 acquitted several anti-Israel protesters who staged a boycott action in a supermarket in Evry near Paris in 2009.

In a separate ruling, a French court of appeals on Thursday slapped a $36,000 fine on the comedian Dieudonne for “inciting racial hate” in films in which he ridiculed the Holocaust and expressed anti-Semitic views. It was Dieudonne’s seventh conviction related to anti-Semitism.

Some of the films contain the word “shoananas,” a combination of the Hebrew name for the Holocaust with the French word for pineapple. It is used as a code word for denying the Holocaust yet seen to be too vague to violate France’s law forbidding Holocaust denial.

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