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Saturday, January 25, 2020

We have had to hide our Francophile natures the past few decades – our love of classic French cooking terms (caramel, sauté, crème brûlée, etc., etc.), the wonderful kosher runs of classic French wines, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Gruyère, that beloved kosher falafel stand in Le Marais, the language and style of France itself (that je ne sais quoi!). Could it be? Might it actually be acceptable for Jews to enjoy France again after all?

With one move, the French national assembly this week accomplished what the Highland Park Borough Council has not been able to achieve in half a year. They announced the definition of anti-Semitism, stating clearly that anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism.

“For some years now, France, the whole of Europe, but also almost all Western democracies, are facing a rise in anti-Semitism,” the resolution states. “Anti-Zionist acts can at times hide anti-Semitic realities. Hate toward Israel due to its perception as a Jewish collective is akin to hatred toward the entire Jewish community.” 

Proposed by lawmaker Sylvain Maillard of LREM, President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party, the legislation passed 154-72 in the parliament’s lower house.

France joins the United Nations, United States, Germany, the Czech Republic and many other states including the great state of New Jersey and many municipalities, in coming to the conclusion that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism.

Meyer Habib, a lawmaker from the Union of Democrats Party, represents French expats in several countries, including Israel, spoke in support of the resolution in the National Assembly on Tuesday. “There is an outbreak of anti-Semitic assaults. Twelve French citizens were murdered since 2003 because they were Jewish. Half of the racist incidents in France are against Jews, even though [Jews] are less than 1% of the population.

Maillard told a French newspaper that in France today, “dirty Zionist…means dirty Jew.”

Earlier this year, President Macron called anti-Zionism “one of the current forms of anti-Semitism” following an attack on French Jewish philosopher Alain Finkelkraut by participants in anti-government protests. The demonstrators called him a “dirty Zionist” and told him to “go back to Tel Aviv.”

“Israel is the Jewish people’s only assurance of safety,” Habib added.

We are purposely setting aside, for now, the recent actions of Western Europe in regard to Iran, which should certainly make those who opposed the Iran nuclear deal shudder. But as we head into Shabbat, we invite everyone to find a bottle of French kosher wine and make a kiddush to the Gallic people—the people of the nation who, with one definition, have helped make the Jewish people just a little safer this week. Bon Appétit!