Fighting anti-semitism in France.

In the wake of a string of anti-Semitic attacks in the United States, No Borders News offers the statement below by a wide range of civil rights, immigrant associations, and left-wing organizations denouncing anti-Semitism in France. The statement provides a guide for building solidarity against anti-Semitism and all forms of racism while criticizing mainstream politicians, including President Macron, who used the attacks as a pretense for cracking down on the Gilets Juanes (Yellow Vests) protests, a particularly important lesson in the wake of President Trump’s Executive Order on Combating Anti-Semitism. Originally published by Mediapart and many other outlets, translated by No Borders News. 

For a comprehensive discussion of these events and the background leading up to them, see David Broder’s interview with French-Jewish Union for Peace activist Maxine Benatouil in Jacobin. 

We, the undersigned associations, parties, unions, and individuals, are all actively involved in the struggle against racism in all its forms. The fight against anti-Semitism is an integral part of our anti-racist struggle. We strongly condemn anti-Semitic acts, which arise in a particular social and political context.

Despite the scale of the police and judicial repression system deployed against the Yellow Vests by the state, the movement continues to enjoy strong popular support. It is not homogeneous and has bubbled up from deep within society. In the face of a government determined not to meet social demands, the movement reflects French society and all its contradictions, evolving significantly since November.

The sequence of events we are experiencing now is therefore confused. If elements of the far right remain a presence in the Yellow Vests, it is clear that they are far from being hegemonic, nor are they capable of taking control of it as it stands today. Politically, but also physically, far-right groups have been sidelined, as has been demonstrated in Lyon, Paris, Toulouse and Bordeaux. The longer the movement continues, the more the space the extreme right claimed during the first weeks seems to shrink. At the same time, contacts and convergence with unions, anti-racist groups, undocumented migrants, and support for migrants are increasing.

The anti-Semitic graffiti that defaced Ilan Halimi’smemorial took place in a context influenced by a political and media barrage over the weekend of February 9, 2019. A context that encourages the resurgence of a racism based on identity reminiscent of that between the two world wars. These anti-Semitic acts bear the ideological signature of those who are nostalgic for the Nazi far-right (swastikas, Celtic crosses, “juden,” etc.). They bear witness to the dialectic of progress achieved by the far right on a national and international scale in a context of worsening social inequalities. The government and its allies have chosen to instrumentalize these acts against the Yellow Vests, denouncing the movement’s supposed violence, anti-parliamentary attitude, and anti-Semitism.

However, it was this government that recently sought to rehabilitate Marshal Pétain, head of the Vichy collaborationist regime during the Nazi occupation. And this same political class had little to say about the tributes paid to Charles Maurrasor Louis-Ferdinand Celine, violently anti-Semitic writers. Anti-Semitism is far too serious a matter to leave to those who work day after day to stigmatize and suppress minorities. They are already approaching the apogee of cynicism when they provocatively attribute the rise of anti-Semitism to “Muslim communitarianism,” as sociologist Eric Ciotti has suggested along with others. Yet, structural racism is neither the result of the Yellow Vests protests, nor was it created by minorities. It is responsibility of the State, which reproduces and defends an unequal and violent society.

We do not accept the degrading manipulation of the anti-racist struggle by those who, more often than not, have promoted racism. We will not forget, and we will fight against, racism in all its forms, including all racist actions and violence carried out by the Islamophobic, anti-Black, homophobic, anti-Asian, anti-LGTBQ police forces. The meaning of statistics over the last years can be summed up in one sentence: racism is advancing in France and in Europe. We will not demonstrate or participate in the national gatherings organized by political forces and parties who claim to be progressive while standing beside those forces who oppose the social movement, while affirming all together: “Racism, it has no place in France.” This “anti-racism,” emptied of social and political meaning, is that of pyromaniacs doubling as firefighters. The anti-racism that we claim recognizes the political responsibility of the French government and the allied political forces that will march alongside it. Demonstrating against racism with those – first and foremost president Emmanuel Macron’s The Republic on the March party (LREM) – who are responsible for and instrumentalize the very same racism is for us a contradiction and a political blunder. We declare that this can only be counterproductive.

We will not be taken hostage by either the instrumentalities of the government or those working in back rooms and embassies to pursue an agenda having nothing to do with the fight against racism and anti-Semitism. We reject anti-Semitic hatred along with all racial hatred and we will express our opposition in a manner that is free from all that produces and maintains these hatreds. The anti-racist movement will not vouch for smears against the Yellow Vests. We are fully conscious of this period’s dangers. And we believe that any solution to France’s social crisis which merely restores order will only stoke racial hatred and fascism. The Yellow Vests movement demands a social and democratic reply for which we hold the government completely responsible.

Therefore, we hereby call for a demonstration against anti-Semitic attacks, against their instrumentalization, and against racism in all its forms:

Tuesday February 19, 2019 at 7 p.m.

Place Ménilmontant, Paris


Initial signatories: French Jewish Union for Peace (UJFP), Indigenous Party of the Republic (PIR), Collectif Rosa Parks, the Association of Maghreb Workers of France (ATMF), Federation of Tunisian Citizens of 2 Rives (FTCR) Women for Pluralism (Femmes plurielles), Foundation Frantz Fanon, Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS) 63, AFPS Paris 14-6, AFPS Paris Sud, Action Antifasciste Paris-Banlieue, United Front of Immigrants and Popular Neighborhoods (FUIQP), Argenteuil Solidarité Palestine, Comité Adama, International Center for Popular Culture (CEDETIM/IPAM), Agence Française de Déveleppment International, Emergency: our police kill (Urgence notre police assassine – UNPA), New Anticapitalist Party (NPA), Le temps des lilas, Euro-Maghrrbin Citizens and Cultural Network (REMCC), Brigade anti-négrophobie (BAN), Collectif La Chapelle Debout, Feminist, Anticapitalist, Third Worldist (FASTI), Committee for the Respect of Human Rights in Tunisia (CRLDHT), Union of Tunisians for Citizen’s Action (UTAC), Association of Tunisians in France (ATF), Immigration, Development, Democracy (IDD), Association of the Families of Sahrawi Prisoners and Disappeared, Montreuil Palestine, Campagne BDS France, Marche des solidarités, Rassemblement Communiste, Association for Human Rights in Morocco (AMDH) Paris/IdF.

Individuals: Ivar Ekeland (mathématicien), Ahmed Abbes (mathématicien), Sonia Dayan-Herzbrun (sociologue), Stathis Kouvelakis (philosophe), Julien Thery (historien), Maryse Tripier (sociologue), Véronique Bontemps (anthropologue), Gustave Massiah (économiste), Catherine Samary (économiste), Judith Bernard (metteure en scène), Dominique Grange (artiste chanteuse), Alain Gresh (journaliste), François Gèze (éditeur), Barbara Glowczewsky (anthropologue), Geneviève Sellier (professeur emerite), Patrick Simon (démographe), Nicolas Frize (compositeur), Yves Chilliard (biologiste), Michel Harris (mathématicien), Taoufiq Tahani (mathématicien, président d’honneur de l’AFPS), Ugo Palheta (sociologue et membre du NPA), Laurent Lévy (essayiste), Saïd Bouamama (sociologue, militant du FUIQP), Kader Attia (écrivain), Isabelle Cambourakis (éditrice), Alima Boumediene Thiery (avocate), Dominique Vidal (historien et journaliste), Olivier Le Cour Grandmaison (universitaire), Didier Epsztajn (animateur du blog « entre les lignes entre les mots »), Patrick Silberstein (mèdecin et éditeur), Alain Cyroulnik (éducateur syndicaliste), Philippe Cyroulnik (critique d’art), Bernard Dreano (militant associatif), Thierry Labica (études britanniques), Marie Hélène Bacqué (sociologue), Rony Brauman (médecin et enseignant), Hubert Krivine (physicien), Ron Naiweld (historien), Daniel Mermet (journaliste), Irène Jami (professeure d’histoire), Alain Bertho (anthropologue), Armelle Andro (démographe), Michel Maric (économiste), Julien Talpin (sociologue), Toni Negri (philosophe), Nacira Guénif (sociologue), Alexis Cukier (philosophe), Michelle Guerci (journaliste), Fabien Marcot (graphiste), Michaël Löwy (sociologue), Eric Hazan (éditeur), Eyal Sivan (cinéaste et professeur AHK), Christine Delphy (sociologue et militante féministe), José Luis Moraguès (psychologie clinique et psychopathologie, militant antiraciste ), Simone Bitton (cinéaste), Philippe Poutou (porte parole du NPA), Christine Poupin (porte parole du NPA), Olivier Besancenot (porte parole du NPA), Louis Weber (éditeur), Isabelle Garo (philosophe), Anne Jollet (historienne), François Burgat (politologue), Noé le Blanc (professeur lycée Paul Eluard de Saint-Denis), Eleni Varikas (professeure emérite), Noureddine Senoussi (président REMCC), Pierre Tripier (sociologue), Farid Bennaï (éducateur spécialisé, FUIQP), Christian Delarue (altermondialiste), Monira Mouhoun (enseignante, militante BDS Saint-Etienne), Gérard Bras (philosophe), Annick Coupe (secrétaire générale d’ATTAC), Aicha Knis (éducatrice et militante BDS), Julien Grivaux (mathématicien), Youssef Seddik (anthropologue).