(JTA) — A senior member of France’s Socialist Party defended his assertion that Jews who are targeted because of Israel are like Muslims who are targeted over ISIS.
Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, first secretary of the republic’s ruling party, said on Twitter that he “did not compare Israel to ISIS” when, during a radio interview Sunday, he said, “I am against identifying a community with a state. We identify the Jewish community with Israel and the Muslims with Daech. It’s the same reasoning.”
The acronym Daech is how many in France refer to the Islamic State, or ISIS, terrorist group.
France has seen a steady rise in anti-Semitic incidents, many of which were perpetrated against French Jews by people from Muslim or Arab background as payback for Israel’s actions.
Cambadelis’ mentioning of Israel and ISIS in the same sentence drew angry reactions, including from the National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, which in a statement on Monday accused Cambadelis of “clearly comparing” the two entities.
But Cambadelis rejected the assertion on his Twitter account, in which he wrote, “I reject the vision that sees Jews as Israel or Muslims as Daesh. And I am not comparing Israel to Daesh.”
During the radio interview, Cambadelis also reiterated the party line about the need to combat rising anti-Semitism.
The issue has received more coverage recently in French media following the slaying of four Jews on Jan. 9 at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket near Paris. The attack was perpetrated by an Islamist who was an associate of two jihadists who two days earlier had killed 12 people at the office of the Charlie Hebdo weekly over its lampooning of Islam. All three attackers were killed in police raids.
This week, the Jewish Federations of North America sent a solidarity mission to France with leaders representing 18 communities throughout North America.
They concluded their visit by meeting with the editor in chief of Charlie Hebdo and the Israeli and U.S. ambassadors to France, as well as one of the women held hostage at the Hyper Cacher market and the policeman who secured her release.