French minister calls Israeli boycott a ‘crime’


(JTA) — France’s interior minister called boycotts against Israeli products in France "a crime."

The statement came in response to a report issued by the Simon Wiesenthal Center chronicling boycotts against kosher products in supermarkets and other stores in France for the 18-month period beginning in January 2009.

In a recent letter to the Wiesenthal Center, Interior Minister Hortefeux wrote, “You have called my attention to the value of punishing the agitation of the group Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions in view of the acts of its members in certain foodstores. … Just as you, I consider the campaign led by this group and their statements made on such occasions calling for a boycott of Israeli products as, arguably, constituting a crime of racial provocation and discrimination."

Last month the center’s Paris-based director for international relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, described in a letter to Hortefeux how members of the group remove kosher products it suspects to be from Israel from store shelves and burns them.  

Samuels said Tuesday that he was encouraged by Hortefeux’s proposal for legal action against the demonstrators.

In recent weeks, swastikas have been painted on kosher stores in Paris and a World War II monument in southern France was painted with anti-Semitic graffiti

“We remain deeply concerned over the continued multidimensional campaigns demonizing Israel and targeting the Jewish community in France,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center’s associate dean. “We hope the French authorities will move swiftly to launch legal action against the organizers of the anti-Israel boycotts and take additional steps to stop the spike in hate crimes.”

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