A trial held in Paris Friday could make it illegal in France to criticize Israel.
Olivia Zemor, 62, was so angered by the murderous Israeli invasion of Gaza at Christmas 2008 that she decided to do something about it. With a grass roots organization, she went to a supermarket and encouraged shoppers to boycott Israeli produce. A Palestinian Mayor came and told shoppers that buying one Israeli product corresponded to “a bullet which will kill a Palestinian child.” In July 2009 Zemor put a four minutes 35 second video of the boycott action online. That is when the Jewish lobbies went into motion against free speech.
The CRIF (Representative Council for Jewish Institutions in France) presented directly to then Justice Minister Michèle Aliot-Marie a law suit for “inciting racial hatred”, a serious crime in France which can lead to prison and hefty fines. Aliot-Marie, who had to resign as Foreign Minister in January because she was too friendly with dictators like Ben Ali of Tunisia, was so outraged she ordered the Public Prosecutor to press charges. The charge the State made against Zemor is “provocation to discrimination, to hatred towards people because of their belonging to [the Israeli nation].”
Four other Jewish Associations joined the offensive against free speech: The National Bureau for Vigilance against Anti-Semitism, The France-Israel Association, The France-Israel Chamber of Commerce and Lawyers without Borders.
I remind readers that the Israeli assault on Gaza from 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009, called ‘Cast Lead’, killed at least 1400 Palestinians, 400 of them children and was condemned in a thorough UN investigation.
Zemor denounced what she called “anti-Semitic Blackmail.” She said this “is not an action against a person or a group of persons because of their belonging to the Israeli nation. It is about not encouraging war crimes.”
The French Trotskyite, Alain Krivine, a Jew, defended Zemor saying “You must not see the action in Evry as anything else than a symbolic political act aimed at alerting opinion.”
Zemor’s lawyer, Antoine Comte, told the judges “a call for a boycott is not incitation to racial hatred.”
The lawyers for the Jewish lobbies argued Zemor and her boycotters were attacking the state of Israel. The judges will render their ruling on July 8. Aude Weil-Raynal of Lawyers without Borders decried “the moral violence” of this sort of action (i.e. boycott).
Only one French daily thought this important enough to run a story on. Le Monde had a short article at the bottom of page thirteen. None of the other French media ran it. This is strange in a country where if a Jew (Eric Zemour, see my blog entry (1.)) is condemned for speaking the truth about the children of Arab and African immigrants the story gets on the front page. When Philosophy Professor Robert Redeker received death threats after an opinion piece in Le Figaro in 2006 condemning Muslim silence over Islamic violence, the story made the front pages. In both cases, the press was indignant over attacks on freedom of speech.
So what is different here? Clearly, it is because the crimes being denounced are Israeli. France is a country where you risk being taken to court for racism for uttering the word “Jewish Lobby”. Obviously, the French press is much more concerned about its Jewish friends (population around 800 thousand) than it is about its Muslim citizens (around six million).
Out of solidarity with Olivia Zemor and in the name of freedom of speech, let me put myself on the French firing line for anti-Semitism (I am not an anti-Semite). I believe the attack on Gaza was a crime against humanity. I believe the embargo on Gaza is not only illegal; it is a crime against humanity. I believe Israel practices state terrorism on a daily basis: torture, targeted assassinations, extra judicial arrests and kidnapping, theft of Palestinian land. This year alone, Israel has shot hundreds of unarmed demonstrators, killing scores. On June 5 the Israelis opened live fire first and then shot tear gas in the Golan which they still occupy. I boycott Israeli produce!
For what I cannot say because of what I consider restrictions on free speech in France, I ask you to read between the lines.