CRIF head: ‘Anti-Semitism is back’


PARIS (JTA) — The head of France’s Jewish political umbrella group told members of the country’s government that “anti-Semitism is back.”

CRIF President Richard Prasquier spoke Monday night at the group’s annual dinner to ministers and bipartisan politicians about the issues facing French Jews.

Raising his voice, Prasquier defended “the right to be Zionists without being victims of anti-Semitism.” The state “must give the impetus” for dialogue initiatives that will protect Jews and help a diverse society live together, he added.

In January, 352 anti-Semitic acts were counted in France, compared to some 460 each for all of 2007 and 2008, he said.

Prasquier slammed political leaders in the Communist and Green parties for marching under “hate banners and death slogans” in virulent anti-Israel protests that provoked a spike in anti-Jewish attacks during Israel’s Gaza offensive.

Of the protests, Prasquier said, “The real objective was to glorify Hamas,” a “notorious terrorist movement.”

Leaders from the far left political parties were not invited to the dinner.

Prasquier also praised the U.S. decision to boycott Durban II, the United Nations’ anti-racism conference set for Geneva, Switzerland, in April. The 2001 conference in Durban, South Africa, was marked by anti-Israel and anti-Jewish invective.

In his speech, Prime Minister Francois Fillion said France would not attend Durban II "if necessary.”

“We will not accept that Israel be stigmatized" or that Jews be “blackened,” he explained.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy could not speak at the event as planned, but made a short appearance at the gathering.

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