PRAGUE (JTA) — The national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, said President Barack Obama and his French counterpart Francois Hollande were refusing to name Islamists as a threat to society.
Foxman made the assertion during a panel discussion Monday in the Czech capital to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp by Russian troops.
Recent attacks on Jews in Europe dominated the debates during the event, titled “Let My People Live,” which was organized by the Czech government and the European Jewish Congress.
“For Hollande to stand up in front of the world and to say that Charlie Hebdo had nothing to do with Islam is closing your eyes to a reality, to a truth,” Foxman said of the French president’s address following the slaying this month by Islamists of 17 people in the Paris area — four of them at a kosher shop and 12 at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly for its lampooning of Islam.
In a public address, Hollande said on Jan. 9, “These fanatics, these ignoramuses, have nothing to do with the Muslim religion.” His statement was widely understood to mean that the terrorists’ interpretation of Islam is false.
On Obama, Foxman said the U.S. president “has called a meeting on Feb. 18 at the White House to discuss what? Extremism? Radical extremism? Hello?! And nobody in the media says how can you close your eyes to what is?”
The White House event was announced on Jan. 11 by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in response to the attacks in Paris. Holder said it was designed to find “ways in which we can counteract this violent extremism that exists around the world.”
At the Prague event, the hundreds of Jewish community leaders, politicians and thinkers from across Europe and beyond included the American Jewish attorney and scholar Alan Dershowitz and the French Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henry Levy.
During the debate, EJC President Moshe Kantor called on European parliaments and governments to enact stricter laws against hate speech.
“Please, no political correctness today,” Kantor said. Issues concerning Holocaust denial and the security of European Jews “should be discussed without thinking about political correctness and how it would sound.”