French Jews accused a left-wing presidential candidate of encouraging Holocaust denial following his comparison of the Nazi persecution of Jews to the situation of French Muslims today. Vincent Peillon, who is running in the Socialist Party primaries ahead of the elections this year, made the analogy Tuesday during an interview aired by the France 2 television channel. Peillon, a former education minister who has Jewish origins, was commenting on a question about France’s strict separation between state and religion, referred to in France as “laicite.” “If some want to use laicite, as has been done in the past, against certain populations … Forty years ago it was the Jews who put on yellow stars. Today, some of our Muslim countrymen are often portrayed as radical Islamists. It is intolerable.” In a statement Wednesday, CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, accused Peillon of making “statements that only serve those trying to rewrite history.”
Peillon neither retracted his remark nor apologized in a statement published Wednesday on his website, but said he would wanted to elaborate on what he meant in light of the controversy it provoked and to “refine my view, which may have been misrepresented because of brevity.” Peillon wrote that he “clearly did not want to say that laicite was the origin of anti-Semitism of Vichy France,” which was the part of the country run by a pro-Nazi collaborationist government. He also wrote that “what the Jews experienced under Vichy should not be banalized in any way” and that he was committed to fighting racism and anti-Semitism. “I wanted to denounce the strategy of the far right, which always used the words of the French Republic or social issues to turn them against the population. It is doing so today with laicite against the Muslims,” Peillon wrote.
But in its statement condemning Peillon’s remark, CRIF wrote that the history concerning the deportation of more than 75,000 Jews from France to concentration camps and death and the looting of their property, “as well as discriminatory laws such as the one about wearing yellow stars, should not be instrumentalized to create a false equivalence of suffering.” CRIF “demands a clarification and immediate correction on the part of Vincent Peillon,” it said. Peillon, a lawmaker in the European Parliament, announced his candidacy in December to succeed President Francois Hollande as party leader and run as its candidate in April. He was appointed education minister in 2012 and served for two years. In the Socialist primaries, Peillon will face Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who has strong support in the Jewish community. Peillon’s mother, Françoise Blum, is Jewish. Peillon, who rarely talks about his Jewish roots publicly, signed a petition by the left-wing Jcall group, the European counterpart to J Street, supporting Palestinian statehood. In 2009, he celebrated the bar mitzvah of his son Elie at a Paris synagogue. He has another son, Isaac. Peillon is married to Nathalie Bensahel, a journalist who has written about about France’s anti-Semitism problem.
February 23, 2016
On February 10, France 2 published a report on the BDS movement that elicited a violent reaction from CRIF, who wrote to President of French Television Delphine Ernotte arguing that the report was “apologetic to the BDS movement and contributes to misinformation and the delegitimization of Israel.”
“The experience showed us that it is ok to promote hatred of Israel and the Jews of France and thus to legitimize and encourage attacks against Jews” added CRIF president Roger Cukierman, whose priority is to protect the interests of the State of Israel.
Link to Video: http://oumma.com/222541/reportage-de-france-2-bds-a-mis-panique-crif-video
A leader in the French Council of the Muslim Faith, Mohammed Moussaoui, hoped for a “gesture of appeasement’ from the President of the CRIF, whose comments about young Muslims and anti-Semitism have caused controversy. In a recent interview Roger Cukierman stated that all anti-Semitic violence was committed by “young Muslims,” which caused the CFCM to boycott the annual dinner. “Dialogue never ceased with the CRIF as an organization,” declared the CFCM’s President Dalil Boubakeur. “The two communities are mature enough to find common ground and to overcome any disquiet which was created by these unacceptable remarks.”
“I think it’s necessary for him to make a gesture, appeasing remarks, which would allow for dialogue,” said Mr. Moussaoui. He denounced “all extremism, no matter what type it is,” and condemned “terrorism which claims to be Islam,” deploring amalgamations between extremism and Islam.
Following the January attacks Prime Minister Valls invited Muslim representatives to take part in the fight against terror. “Taking responsibility is to ensure that there is a debate within Islam,” he stated. “It’s what we ask of the main majority of our Muslim compatriots who can no longer be confused with this terror.”
The annual CRIF dinner on February 23 was marked by absences of Muslim representatives, who decided to boycott the night following Cukierman’s remarks on Europe 1. “All violence today is committed by young Muslims,” even if “of course it’s a little minority of the Muslim community and Muslims are the first victims,” he had previously stated. Cukierman later clarified his statement, “I only shed light on the fact that all the terrorists who committed murders recently claimed Islam [as their religion], and that the first victims of these terrorists, are Muslims.”
Mohammed Mossaoui, President of the Union of Mosques in France and Dalil Boubakeur, President of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, decided to skip the dinner. “I learned of this decision with deep regret,” said Mr. Cukierman before stating, “I called Mr. Boubakeur to try and change his mind…It was neither to amalgamate or to stigmatize. It had to do with the facts…I told Mr. Boubakeur that our long and sincere friendship must overcome this problem because what matters, it’s living together in harmony…Jews, Muslims, we are all in the same boat, I hope that contact will be quickly restored.”
The CRIF President was also criticized for stating in the same interview that Marine Le Pen was “irreproachable.” Cukierman later explained that Marine Le Pen was “irreproachable” from a legal standpoint. “But she is someone we don’t want anything to do with, for she has never distanced herself from her father’s remarks,” he concluded.
Le Monde – January 19, 2012
While they regularly experience conflict vis-a-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Mosque of Paris (Grande Mosquée de Paris) and the French Representative Council of Jewish Institutions (the Conseil représentatif des institutions juives de France) met on 17 January to discuss join concerns for anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in France. The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) did not participate in the meeting.
Since the creation of the CFCM in 2003, a number of groups of secular Muslims have emerged seeking another voice. Some have suggested a group modeled after the CRIF (French Council of Jewish Groups).
An 18 year-old man has been charged with “voluntary violence” related to a physical assault of a French Muslim with took place on the 24th of July in Guyancourt (Yvelines). The man has denied the charges.
According to the victim, Nouredine Rachedi, 30, 2 men requested cigarettes from him and when he responded negatively, they asked whether he was Muslim and what he thought about Yugoslavia. Rachedi claims that when he told the two that he was born in France and a Muslim, that they responded, “We are Nazis!”
The CRIF (Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France or the Committee Representing the Jewish Institutions of France) publicly denounced aggression and all forms of racism, whether they focus upon « Muslims, Jews, Blacks or whomever. »
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CRIF Press Release