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Press ReleaseAnti-Semitism-International
RULE
Jewish Leader in France Issues Plea to Leaders to Speak out Against Rising Anti-Semitism

New York, N.Y., February 12, 2002 ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), long concerned with the rising wave of anti-Semitism in France, pointed today to a plea by the leader of the French Jewish community in the influential daily, Le Monde, which called for an immediate and urgent response by government officials to widespread anti-Semitism.

Roger Cukierman, President of CRIF, the Representative Council of the Jewish Organizations of France, asked his countrymen and government to recognize the seriousness of the anti-Semitic acts that have targeted Jews.

"Mr. Cukierman's call to the government officials to speak out in a forceful and deliberate manner against such crimes should be a wake-up call to President Chirac and other French leaders who have remained far too passive in their handling of the situation," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Time and again, we have called on President Chirac to come forward with strong denunciations of the violence and incendiary anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric, and take responsibility for Jewish citizens by better protecting them."

Following is an unofficial translation of the Le Monde column:

    Column in LE MONDE, February 1, 2001 by Roger Cukierman, President, CRIF

    The leaders of the country like to play down anti-Jewish acts.

    They prefer to see these as ordinary violence. We are deluged with statistics designed to show that an attack against a synagogue is an act of violence and not anti-Semitism.

    Some Jews who have lost touch with reality like to buttress their personal status by turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to danger, in order to curry favor with the public consensus.

    The media like to give the widest exposure to voices critical of Israel and Jews, all the more so when these voices are Jewish. This way, media can't be charged with anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism.

    Judicial authorities don't like to mete out strong punishment for acts of anti-Jewish violence, even when the perpetrators are caught red-handed: a three-month suspended sentence or nothing for an attack on a Jewish place of worship, compared to a year in jail for burning a straw cottage in Corsica.

    Why this laxness?

    Because this violence, perpetrated by only one side, is linked to the conflict in the Middle East.

    Because too often Jew and Israeli mean the same thing.

    Because this violence does not come from the extreme right.

    Because it originates in the suburbs where North Africans live.

    Because democratic France is reluctant to acknowledge its failure to integrate young North Africans in schools and society.

    Because one forgives those toward whom one feels guilty.

    Because the Moslem population is all-important.

    I don't like to be silent, to act as if I did not see the graffiti. Who does not hear the anti-Jewish insults, who does not fear for the children who go to school or those who visit synagogues.

    I don't like to have to fear a serious incident every day.

    I don't like to forget the lessons of the past.

    It is not important that the immediate threat does not come from the traditional extreme right, but instead from some Islamic fanatics, or from some individuals whom one all-too-gently refers to as hooligans from the suburbs. Once again, we are the scapegoat. It's a part that we no longer are prepared to play.

    How much I would like to hear the announcement that a policy of firmness has been ordered, of uncompromising justice toward all perpetrators! And, at the same time, the initiation of a genuine dialogue with the large majority of moderate Moslems. With the Moslems who fight for integration of all-- men and women equally in French society -- who reject all forms of violence and who, like us, want at any price to avoid the outbreak of civil disorder.

    I would like to believe that these aspirations reflect the image of a France that is synonymous with tolerance and freedom. For the issue in this debate is respect for and the lasting prevalence of the Republic's values.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.



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