French Interior Minister Slams Boycott of Israeli products as "A Crime of Racial Provocation and Discrimination"

August 10, 2010

The Simon Wiesenthal Center lauded French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux for calling boycotts against Israeli products in France “ a crime”. The top French official‘s statement came in response to a SWC report, "Boycott Agitation against Kosher Products in Supermarkets and other Commercial Outlets across France, January 2009 - July 2010"  (in cooperation with the French Bureau for Vigilance against Antisemitism).

In a letter to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Interior Minister Hortefeux wrote, "You have called my attention to the value of punishing the agitation of the Group "Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions" (BDS) in view of the acts of its members in certain foodstores ... Just as you, I consider the campaign led by this group and their statements made on such occassions calling for a boycott of Israeli products as, arguably, constituting a crime of racial provocation and discrimination...."

Dr. Shimon Samuels, Director for International Relations, based in Paris, was encouraged by Minister Hortefeux's proposal for "legal action based on racist provocation and discrimination" against the group, ‘Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions' (BDS), adding, "We urge the investigating magistrate to also consider the possible relationship of swastikas daubed on Jewish kosher product stores in Paris last week with the incitement campaign." (see photo)

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Center's Associate Dean, commended the Minister's reaction to last week’s desecration of the Marmande memorial to the deportation and resistance near Bordeaux. Minister Hortefeux called that hate crime "a repugnant act ... an insult to the Jewish community, to France, to civilization and the values of the Republic."

“We remain deeply concerned over the continued multi-dimensional campaigns demonizing Israel and targeting the Jewish community in France,” said Rabbi Cooper. “We hope the French authorities will move swiftly to launch legal action against the organizers of the anti-Israel boycotts and take additional steps to stop the spike in hate crimes.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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