His Excellency Jacques Chirac
The Republic of France
Dear Mr. President,
When the statue of Alfred Dreyfus is defaced more than a century after the scandal that epitomized anti-Semitism, it is a problem not just for Jews, but for France.
For too long, French authorities have turned a blind eye to what we believe deserves to be called a crisis. To be silent while an anti-Semitic campaign is being waged against Jewish institutions and members of France's Jewish community is to shirk the responsibility of government to protect its citizens. We call on you and your government to come forward with clear and strong public denunciations of the anti-Jewish violence, and incendiary anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric and we urge France to honor its tradition of human rights.
It is equally disconcerting for your government, particularly the Foreign Minister, to make repeated one-sided statements about the Middle East conflict that equate peaceful demonstrations by French Jews on behalf of Israel with terrorism by the Palestinians against innocent Israeli citizens. Such statements tend to give violence-prone elements in French cities encouragement to vent their anger at Jews.
Mr. President, it is important that you and your office to recognize this serious situation and see that public steps designed to curb the violence are taken. Such steps would reflect the values of freedom and the inviolability of citizens, regardless of ethnic or religious background.
Abraham H. Foxman