The International League Against Anti-Semitism and Racism (LICRA) has filed suit against the French daily Le Monde and its former editor, Jacques Fauvet, for alleged “incitement to racial hatred and spreading anti-Semitism.”
LICRA, a civil rights organization known for its strong pro-Israel stand, charged that the paper had been guilty of these crimes when it accepted for publication last June 17, in the first weeks of the war in Lebanon, a paid advertisement which contained “anti-Semitic material” and which, according to LICRA, was likely to incite the readers to racial hatred.
The advertisement, which had clearly been marked as such, consisted of a quarter page vitriolic attack against the “Peace For Galilee” operation, Israel and Zionism. It was signed by a Catholic priest, Father Michel Lelong, a Protestant clergyman, the Rev. Etienne Mathiot, and Marxist philosopher Roger Garaudy, a recent convert to Islam. The three claimed that Israel “practices state terror” and that one of the aims of Zionism “is endless expansion.”
The three compared Israel’s legislation to the Nuremberg laws in their definition of Jewishness as “someone born of a Jewish mother.” LICRA, which is headed by Jean Pierre-Bloch, claimed that by accepting the advertisement, Le Monde contributed to a hate campaign and had slandered Judaism and “even the Bible.” The Defense counsel for the three signatories and those representing the paper stressed that all the defendants are known for their anti-racist views and that the text of the advertisement included a phrase stating “our condemnation of Zionism is part of our fight against anti-Semitism.”
A LICRA witness, Rabbi Yosi Eisenberg, told the court that although it was legal to criticize the policy of a foreign state, “attacking Zionism implies a move towards anti-Semitism as there can be no conceivable Judaism without Zionism.” LICRA is asking for a one-franc symbolic fine. The court will announce its verdict Wednesday.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.