March 24, 2006

Outlawing anti-zionism?

From Ynet. A report in France suggests that anti-zionism should be punishable in the same way that anti-semitism is.
Its author, award-winning writer, doctor and president of a humanitarian aid association, Jean-Christophe Rufin, suggested a raft of measures to combat racism and singles out anti-Semitism as a problem to be combated separately.

But one recommendation, that "unfounded" anti-Israel stances be criminalised to the same extent as anti-Jewish acts, has stirred debate in France, where media and political commentary is often critical of Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

Anti-Israel positions among radical anti-racist campaigners risked "a contamination which could put the lives of our Jewish citizens in danger," Mr Rufin argued.

He suggested a law "to punish those who might level unfounded racism allegations against groups, institutions or states, and use against them unjustified comparisons with apartheid or Nazism."

Other recommendations in Mr Rufin's report included: video surveillance of Jewish cemeteries, clearer statistical databases permitting international comparisons, better national coordination, and heightened vigilance of Internet sites.

The study challenged stereotypes that perpetrators of hate-crimes often came from disadvantaged French suburbs predominantly populated by immigrant families from Muslim north African countries such as Algeria and Morocco.

"The new anti-Semitism appears more heterogeneous," it said.

Anti-racist organisations, while welcoming many of the measures envisioned in the report, turned on the controversial suggestion about assimilating criticism or acts against Israel with anti-Semitism.

Mr Rufin was "acting like an arsonist fireman," the head of France's League of Human Rights, Michel Tuniana, said.

'Personal take on problem facing France'

He said the focus on anti-Semitism created an "imbalance" in the approach to fighting all racism, and added that, if the recommendation became law, the umbrella groups the International Federation for Human Rights would be punished because it viewed Israel's treatment of Israeli Arabs as "discriminatory".

Jewish groups in France, however, supported the recommendation.

Mr. Rufin "denounces, very sharply, the anti-Semites who hide behind a sort of anti-Zionism," the head of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France, Haim Musicant, said.
Whilst many anti-zionists stop short of likening Israel to nazi Germany, many, including Jews, could fall foul of a law against calling Israel an apartheid state.

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