"French president Francois Hollande has said his government will soon announce a raft of tough criminal laws to crack down on anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia and Holocaust denial. He made the announcement in a speech to CRIF, France's main Jewish communal body and Israel lobby group, on Monday. Hollande said that the Internet needed to be 'regulated' to suppress videos and even search results deemed 'anti-Semitic'. The president said the appropriate model would be the laws used to prevent the dissemination of child pornography. But the measures are likely only to make matters worse, among other things by criminalizing criticism of Israel and further conflating Zionism with Judaism...
"Hollande said that details of the draft law would be announced in the coming days by his prime minister Manuel Valls... Hollande promised that the laws would become more punitive, so that 'no anti-Semitic word or act goes without a response'... Only in passing... did Hollande mention that anti-Muslim hate attacks in France in January alone exceeded the entire number recorded in 2014. He did not announce any specific measures to combat this alarming phenomenon... Hollande did not consider that it was 'Western' interventions in Syria, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere that gave rise to the menace known as Islamic State...
"The president told CRIF that anti-Semitism has ancient routes, but asserted that 'a more recent source is hatred of Israel.' But if this is the case, who decides what is 'anti-Semitic'? If all anti-Israel and anti-Zionist statements will be considered anti-Semitic then hundreds if not thousands of publications in tens of languages will have to be banned by France. Hollande shared some disturbing statistics: in 2014 there were twice as many 'anti-Semitic acts' recorded as in 2013 and ten times more than before the year 2000. Lest I be accused of 'justifying' these acts, let me be clear: nothing, including Israel's crimes against Palestinians, justifies insulting or attacking Jews as Jews. But can it be a mere coincidence that 2014 was the year of Israel's latest horrific massacre of Palestinians in Gaza that was fully backed by the United States and most EU members, including France? Can it also be a coincidence that 2000 was the year the second intifada began and Israel launched a brutal crackdown that has since killed more than 8,000 Palestinians, often with weapons provided by those same states?
"What is the relationship between these facts? While Hollande insists that 'hatred' of Israel is a form of, or a 'source' of 'anti-Semitism', he does not acknowledge the role of Israel in generating the intense hostility sometimes misdirected against Jews.
"The Palestinian national movement has always correctly insisted that its enemies are not 'the Jews', but rather Israel and the Zionist colonial movement.
"Yet it is Israel that continues to insist that it acts in the name of Jews everywhere.
"It is Benjamin Netanyahu who apparently considers himself not just prime minister of Israel but the leader of world Jewry.
"It is Israel that has taken the symbols of the Jewish religion - including its most recognized one, the Star of David - and affixed it to uniforms and weapons of destruction and death that are used to carry out atrocities in Palestine and Lebanon.
"It is Zionists who have taken holy scriptures and claimed that they provide a license for modern day Brooklynites and Parisians to violently steal land from Palestinian villagers.
"It is Israel's government-financed settlers who torch Palestinian mosques and daub their walls with 'biblical phrases'.
"It is Israel-government-backed religious fanatics who yearn - and plan - to destroy the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and replace it with a 'Jewish temple'.
"It is Israel that used the Paris Grand Synagogue as a recruiting base for its army and it is Israeli army commanders who cite Hebrew scripture to justify laying waste to Gaza." (France must treat online 'anti-Semitism' like child pornography, president says, Ali Abunimah, electronicintifada.net, 25/2/15)
Part 2 tomorrow.