The introduction to this piece was edited on September 26, 2018 to include reference to a second counter-manifesto published in Le Monde on May 3, 2018. That article is also provided in English translation below.
On April 21 more than three hundred of France’s most prominent intellectuals and politicians published a public statement described as a “manifesto” in the French daily Le Parisien entitled “Manifeste «contre le nouvel antisémitisme»” (“Manifesto ‘against the new anti-Semitism’”). According to its signatories and as reported in the Atlantic, the statement is aimed at “curbing anti-Semitism” by demanding that “the verses of the Quran calling for the killing and punishment of Jews, Christians, and unbelievers be rendered obsolete by theological authorities” (“nous demandons que les versets du Coran appelant au meurtre et au châtiment des juifs, des chrétiens et des incroyants soient frappés d’obsolescence par les autorités théologiques”), such that “No believer should be able to rely on a sacred text to commit a crime.” The authors identify Islam as the source of violence and what is termed “the new anti-Semitism,” which is widely understood to refer to anti-Jewish (and, for some, anti-Israeli) sentiments and actions by French Muslims. The problem haunting French society, the group alleges, is Islam—and more specifically certain passages in the Quran—which allegedly incite believers to violence against Jews and others. This statement was made in a tense context characterized by the persistence and intensification of a discursive framework that systematically positions French Muslims and the French Republic as inherently antagonistic. In March 2018, for example, a collective of intellectuals signed another “manifesto against Islamic separatism.”
In response to these provocative manifestos, on May 3 in Le Monde a different group of French intellectuals published a “counter-manifesto” under the original title “De quoi la dénonciation d’un « nouvel l’antisémitisme » est-elle le nom?” (“Unpacking the ‘Manifesto against the new anti-Semitism’”). Describing the original manifesto as an “incitement to hatred” that will serve only to “exacerbate existing social tensions in France,” signatories of the counter-manifesto claim that the manifesto wrongly ignores the anti-Semitism of the French and European extreme right and in fact will serve to inflame the very anti-Semitism it claims to seek to combat. The counter-manifesto also bemoans the increasing sectarianization of French society and politics and expresses grave concerns about the collapsing of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism in French and European public discourse.
On May 3 a third group of French intellectuals published another response to the original manifesto under the original title “Combattons l’antisémistisme dans sa globalité” (“Combatting Anti-Semitism in its Entirety”). The authors of this article argue that the manifesto overlooks the significant role of resurgent of nationalist populism as a source of contemporary anti-Semitism in France and in Europe more broadly. In addition, by framing their statement as a rebuke of a Muslim community imagined as monolithic and reducing it to a demand to modify the Quran, the authors of the manifesto stand accused of feeding “the fantasy of an ummah with a radical Islamic agenda.” These authors conclude that “the war against anti-Semitism must be waged in the name of the progressive values on which our democracies were founded. It must be everyone’s cause . . . But we cannot seriously ask our Muslim citizens to ‘purge’ their holy book by removing such-and-such a passage from the Quran. All the more because there is no reason to believe this would change either the trivialization of antisemitism or the obsessions of Islamic radicals.”
The French disputes around the manifesto and the responses to it have important echoes in the US conversation. The rise of anti-Semitic rhetoric paralleling the spread of white nationalist and xenophobic movements has become an alarming feature of US domestic politics and foreign policy. President Donald Trump’s odd choice of a Baptist pastor renowned for his anti-Semitic remarks to open the new US embassy in Jerusalem has shown once again the complex interplay of exclusivist forms of Christian and white nationalisms. As in Europe, in the United States, anti-Zionism and the critique of Israeli state politics and policies is also frequently conflated with anti-Semitism. An increasing number of scholars on both sides of the Atlantic have explained their grounds for publicly rejecting the equation between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.
In the interest of informing our English-speaking readers about these concerning public debates involving questions of religious difference and public life in a transatlantic context, The Immanent Frame presents the translation into English of the most recent manifesto,counter-manifesto, and second counter-manifesto. We welcome your thoughts and responses.
With thanks to Elizabeth Shakman Hurd and Nadia Marzouki for this introductory essay and for helping to bring this discussion to The Immanent Frame. The manifesto and first counter-manifesto were translated from the original French by Sarah-Louise Raillard. —Eds.
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“A manifesto ‘against the new anti-Semitism'”
This article, written by Sébastien Coca, was originally published in French on April 21, 2018 in Le Parisien. The translation and reproduction of this text is presented here with permission from Le Parisien. The original with the list of signatories is found here.
This terror is spreading
Anti-Semitism does not just concern Jews, it concerns us all. The French, whose democratic maturity we have witnessed in the wake of every Islamist terrorist attack, are caught in a tragic paradox. France has become the theater of deadly anti-Semitism. This terror is spreading, eliciting both popular condemnation and the media’s silence, which the recent “white march” against anti-Semitism helped to break.
When standing at the podium in front of the National Assembly, the French prime minister declared that France without Jews is not France and received thunderous applause from all sides, he was not delivering a fine phrase of consolation, but in fact issuing a solemn warning. For a vast number of geographic, religious, philosophical, and legal reasons, our European history—and France’s history in particular—is deeply connected to a wide variety of cultures, among which Jewish thought has played a decisive role. In our recent history, eleven Jews have been assassinated—and some tortured—by radical Islamists, simply because they were Jewish.
Veiled ethnical cleansing
And yet, this condemnation of Islamophobia—not to be confused with anti-Arab racism, an issue which deserves attention—somewhat obscures the figures published by the Ministry of the Interior: French Jews are 25 times more likely to be assaulted than their Muslim counterparts. Ten percent of Jewish citizens living in the Île de France region (or around 50,000 individuals) were recently forced to move because they were no longer safe in certain neighborhoods and because their children could no longer attend public schools. This is a kind of veiled ethnic cleansing, taking place before our eyes in the country of Zola and Clemenceau.
Why this silence? Because Islamist radicalization—and the anti-Semitism it embodies—is viewed by some French elites solely as the expression of social revolt, despite the fact that this same phenomenon can be observed in such vastly different societies as Denmark, Afghanistan, Mali, and Germany, for instance. Because in addition to the old anti-Semitism of the Far Right, we now have the anti-Semitism of a segment of the Radical Left, which exploits anti-Zionism to transform those who have perpetrated crimes against Jews into today’s victims. Because cunning politicians have realized that the Muslim vote is ten times greater than the Jewish vote.
We hope that Islam in France will lead the way
During the white march held in honor of Mireille Knoll, however, a number of imams were present, imams who are aware that Muslim anti-Semitism is the greatest threat facing twenty-first century Islam and the world of peace and freedom in which they have chosen to live. For the most part, these religious leaders are under police protection, which says a lot about the reign of terror imposed by Islamists on all French Muslims.
We therefore ask that the verses of the Quran calling for the killing and punishment of Jews, Christians, and unbelievers be rendered obsolete by theological authorities, much like Biblical inconsistencies and Catholic anti-Semitism were abolished by Vatican II. No believer should be able to rely on a sacred text to commit a crime.
We hope that Islam in France will lead the way. We demand that the fight against the democratic failure of anti-Semitism be taken up as a national cause before it is too late. Before France is no longer France.
List of signatories
Eliette Abecassis; Richard Abitbol; Ruth Aboulkheir; André Aboulkheir; Laure Adler; Paul Aidane; Waleed Al-Husseini; Mohamed Ali Kacim; Michèle Anahory; François Ardeven; Pierre Arditi; Janine Atlounian; Muriel Attal; Charles Aznavour; Elisabeth Badinter; Patrick Bantman; Laurence Bantman; Adrien Barrot; Stephane Barsacq; Maurice Bartelemy; Stéphane Beaudet; Patrick Beaudouin; Annette Becker; Florence Ben Sadoun; Georges Bensoussan; Gérard Bensussan; Alain Bentolila; André Bercoff; Aurore Berge; François Berleand; Françoise Bernard; Florence Berthoud; Naem Bestandji; Muriel Beyer; Jean Birenbaum; Claude Birman; Joelle Blumberg; Marion Blumen; Lise Boëll; Jeannette Bougrab; Céline Boulay-Esperonnier; Michel Bouleau; Laurent Bouvet; Lise Bouvet; Fatiha Boyer; Anne Brandy; Caroline Bray-Goyon; Zabou Breitman; Claire Briere-Blanchet; Jean-Paul Brighelli; Pascal Bruckner; Laura Bruhl; Daniel Brun; Carla Bruni; François Cahen; Séverine Camus; Jean-Claude Casanova; Bernard Cazeneuve; Hassen Chalghoumi; Catherine Chalier; Elsa Chaudun; Evelyne Chauvet; Ilana Cicurel; Eric Ciotti; Gilles Clavreul; Brigitte-Fanny Cohen; Marc Cohen; Jonathan Cohen; Danielle Cohen-Levinas; Antoine Compagnon; Jacqueline Costa-Lascoux; Brice Couturier; Fabrice D’almeida; Eliane Dagane; Gérard Darmon; Marielle David; William De Carvalho; Elisabeth De Fontenay; Xavier De Gaulle; Bernard De La Villardiere; Bertrand Delanoë; Richard Dell’agnola; Chantal Delsol; Gérard Depardieu; Guillaume Dervieux; Patrick Desbois Pere; Alexandre Devecchio; Bouna Diakhaby; Marie-Laure Dimon; Joseph Dore Mgr; Daniel Draï; Michel Drucker; Richard Ducousset; Stéphane Dugowson; Martine Dugowson; Frédéric Dumoulin; David Duquesne; Frédéric Encel; Raphaël Enthoven; Francis Esmenard; Christian Estrosi; Elise Fagjeles; Roger Fajnzylberg; Luc Ferry; Alain Finkielkraut; Pascal Fioretto; Marc-Olivier Fogiel; Renée Fregosi; Michel Gad Wolkowicz; Aliou Gassamal; Lucile Gellman; Jasmine Getz; Sammy Ghozlan; Jean Glavany; Bernard Golse; Roland Gori; Marine Gozlan; Olivia Gregoire; Mohamed Guerroumi; Ghislaine Guerry; Olivier Guez; Lydia Guirous; Talila Guteville; Patrick Guyomard; Noémie Halioua; Françoise Hardy; Frédéric Haziza; Jean-Luc Hees; Serge Hefez; François Heilbronn; Marie Ibn Arabi-Blondel; Aliza Jobes; Arthur Joffe; Michel Jonasz; Christine Jordis; Dany Jucaud; Liliane Kandel Karim; David Khayat; Catherine Kintzler; Alain Kleinmann; Marc Knobel; Haïm Korsia; Julia Kristeva; Rivon Krygier; Estelle Kulich; Philippe Labro; Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine; Lilianne Lamantowicz; Jack Lang; Joseph Laroche; Damien Le Guay; Daniel Leconte; Barbara Lefebvre; Yoann Lemaire; Pierre Lescure; Bernard-Henri Levy; Maurice Levy; Stéphane Levy; Michèle Levy-Soussan; Marceline Loridan-Ivens; Christine Loterman; Patrick Loterman; Enrico Macias; Richard Malka; Wladi Mamane; Yves Mamou; Juliette Meadel; Sylvie Mehaudel; Yael Mellul; Françoise-Anne Menager; Daniel Mesguich; Richard Metz; Habib Meyer; Radu Mihaileanu; Yann Moix; Antoine Molleron; Thibault Moreau; Jean-Jacques Moscovitz; Slim Moussa; Laurent Munnich; Lionel Naccache; Marc Nacht; Aldo Naouri; Xavier Niel; Sophie Nizard; Anne-Sophie Nogaret; Karina Obadia; Jean-Pierre Obin; Edith Ochs; Christine Orban; Olivier Orban; Marc-Alain Ouaknin; Yann Padova; Brigitte Paszt; Dominique Perben; André Perrin; Serge Perrot; Laurence Picard; Céline Pina; François Pinault; Jean-Robert Pitte; Nidra Poller; Richard Prasquier; Michael Prazan; Nadège Puljak; Jean-François Rabain; Marianne Rabain-Lebovici; Ruben Rabinovitch; Jean-Pierre Raffarin; Christiane Rance; Jean-Jacques Rassial; Renaud Renaud; Jean-Louis Repelski; Solange Repleski; Ivan Rioufol; Jacob Rogozinski; Olivier Rolin; Marie-Helène Routisseau; Catherine Rozenberg; Philippe Ruszniewski; Boualem Sansal; Georges-Elia Sarfat; Nicolas Sarkozy; Josiane Sberro; Jean-Paul Scarpitta; Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt; Dominique Schnapper; André Senik; Joann Sfar; Vadim Sher; Stéphane Simon; Patricia Sitruk; Jean-François Solal; Paule Steiner; Jean-Benjamin Stora; Francis Szpiner; Anne Szulmajster; Pierre-André Taguieff; Maud Tanachnik; Jacques Tarnero; Michel Tauber; Daniel Technio; Julien Trokiner; Cosimo Trono; Monette Vacquin; Henri Vacquin; Philippe Val; Caroline Valentin; Manuel Valls; Sibyle Veil; Jacques Vendroux; Natacha Vitrat; Sabrina Volcot-Freeman; Régine Waintrater; Laurent Wauquiez; Aude Weill-Raynal; Simone Wiener; Annette Wieviorka; Jean-Pierre Winter; Jacques Wrobel; André Zagury; Alain Zaksas; Paul Zawadzkiv Marc Zerbib; Céline Zins; Jean-Claude Zylberstein
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“Unpacking the ‘Manifesto against the new anti-Semitism’”
This article was originally published in French on May 3, 2018 in Le Monde. The translation and reproduction of this text is presented here with written permission from the original authors, Annie Benveniste and Annie Cyngiser. The original is found here.
With this collective text, we wish to add our voices to the scattered yet vociferous protests that have arisen following the publication of a “Manifesto,”1 signed by a few hundred prominent political, artistic, and intellectual figures, and which in fact constitutes an incitement to hatred, as well as the seeds of an unspoken civil war.
While ostensibly claiming to condemn a “new anti-Semitism,” this manifesto lays all of the different attacks on Jewish French citizens at the feet of “radical Islam,” without making any reference to the rise of Far-Right anti-Semitic currents throughout Europe (e.g., Eastern Europe, Germany, Austria), currents whose presence in France cannot be overlooked.
The signatories of this manifesto are so careful to avoid making any references to current Far-Right movements, including Jewish ones, that they end up ignoring or dismissing both the actions undertaken against immigrants by the nativist Génération Identitaire group and the presence, tolerated during the last silent march, of the Jewish Defense League (JDL)—the latter even tried to act as the march’s security personnel, even though it is banned in Israel. Their supposed antiracist stance, of which the fight against anti-Semitism is part, can therefore be quite easily refashioned to suit their varying needs.
With total contempt for France’s factual history, and by dubiously manipulating the data regarding attacks, this manifesto can only serve to exacerbate existing social tensions in France. Additionally, it holds hostage those of us Jews who feel like they are constantly blackmailed with the threat—unfortunately real nowadays—of anti-Semitic violence as soon as they distance themselves in any way from the policies of a state that is not theirs. This manifesto appears to condemn any kind of communitarianism, but nonetheless seeks to impose the idea of a “Jewish community” which is supposed to bring together all of France’s Jews under the aegis of the CRIF [Conseil représentatif des institutions juives de France—Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions]—although the latter in fact only represents a tiny fraction of the Jewish population—and thus aggravates the very anti-Semitism which it claims to combat.
This manifesto, which perpetuates the fantasy of a more discreet French Kristallnacht operated through a sort of “veiled ethnic cleansing” likewise seems to ignore the article published in Le Monde on 21 April which was rather more nuanced in its argument: “No one is denying the fact that a certain number of attacks were committed by professed Muslims. However, police statistics remind us that in 95% of cases, the authors of anti-Semitic crimes recorded in 2017 were associated with the Far Right” (cf. “La recrudescence des actes violents contre les juifs en Allemagne” [The resurgence of violent acts against Jews in Germany]; cf. also Nicolas Barotte, “Un nouvel antisémitisme met à l’épreuve la mémoire allemande” [A new form of anti-Semitism poses a challenge to German memory], Le Figaro, 03/29/2018).
We therefore condemn the vast web of conflations and falsehoods that structure this “Manifesto”:
- The conflation between, on the one hand, violence and deadly acts committed against Jewish French citizens by avowed terrorists and, on the other hand, heinous killings like the murder of Mrs. Knoll, where the alleged proof that the crime was rooted in anti-Semitism stems solely from the fact that the author of the crime was aware of his victim’s religious beliefs.
- The conflation between a politico-religious ideology (Salafism) and an essentialized religion that is held solely responsible for violence (Islam). As for the need to revise sacred texts, neither the Old nor the New Testament were criticized or challenged by Vatican II, which contented itself with eliminating certain passages that accused Jews of deicide from its liturgy (except for fundamentalist churches, which still do not recognize this papal intervention). Sacred texts remain sacred. How they are read and interpreted is the only thing that has changed (cf. Rachid Benzine, “L’urgence n’est pas d’expurger le Coran mais d’en faire une lecture critique” [There is an urgent need not to expunge the Quran, but to read it critically], La Croix, 04/23/2018). Basing oneself on the preaching and interpretations of the Quran offered by Salafist imams in order to ask that “[certain] verses of the Quran be rendered obsolete” means attributing a hateful attitude toward Jews to the broad and diverse spectrum of Muslim believers. It also means granting them an ethno-religious identity, much like the image of Jews as a “different race” that has been shaped over the centuries.
- The conflation between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, which assimilates any criticisms of the colonial and racial policies that Israel inflicts on Palestinians—without forgetting the many acts of discrimination against Ethiopian Jews (Falash Mura) and other recent African immigrants in Israel, largely committed by ultra-orthodox communities—to the “desire to destroy the Jewish people” professed by extremist movements in the Middle East. The manifesto conveniently forgets that Israel calls itself the “Jewish State” and has thus appropriated the right to speak on behalf of Jews all around the world. This is a conflation for which a number of individuals otherwise “above all suspicion” have paid the price (Maspero, Charles Enderlin, and many others) when they were tried for anti-Semitism or prevented from continuing to exercise their profession. The same can be said for all the Jewish individuals, both men and women, who were publicly vilified as soon as they refused to unconditionally support Israel’s policies, such as the former ambassador and deportee Stéphane Hessel, author of the manifesto Time for Outrage!, Edgar Morin, or even the former president of the CRIF, Théo Klein. Most recently, the actress Natalie Portman was pilloried in the media because she refused to participate in the Genesis Prize ceremony, explaining that she did not wish to endorse Netanyahu’s policies or “violence, corruption, inequality and the abuse of power.”
We should not, however, ignore the rise of Salafist and Wahhabi ideologies in prisons and the so-called “no-go” neighborhoods of the French Republic, ideologies which revive the “Jewish conspiracy theory” and which are then repurposed by the Far Right and widely disseminated on social media platforms. Nor should we forget that this same French Republic was quite deaf to the calls issued by social workers, both secular and Muslim (but why do we persist in defining some citizens according to their religious affiliations?), to fight against the teachings of these imams. This same Republic was equally deaf when anthropologists and sociologists published studies on the rise of religious movements being used as socio-educational bulwarks, patching the holes created by drastic public service cuts in a number of impoverished areas gradually abandoned by the State. Attacks on critical thinking, which the aforementioned manifesto identifies as the purview of the “Radical Left,” reduce analyses of impoverishment and social segregation, experienced alongside the rise of consumerism and resentment at not being born on the right side of the divide, to a merely ideological position. As for the detractors of critical thinking, they refer to the flight of certain segments of the Jewish population from impoverished neighborhoods to more “secure” and gentrified neighborhoods as a kind of ethnic cleansing. In post-apartheid South Africa, when well-off segments of the Black population left the townships to move into white neighborhoods, and the white population consequently abandoned those same neighborhoods, did people speak of “ethnic cleansing?”
Despite the desire professed at the outset by many of its signatories, the vast web of conflations and falsehoods contained in this manifesto make it a veritable incitement to racial and even anti-Semitic hatred.
List of signatories
Jean-Loup Amselle; Jocelyn Aznar; Bretrand Badie; Etienne Balibar; Laurent Bazin; Gilles Bataillon; Annie Benveniste; Rivka Bercovici; Renée Blancheton; Véronique Bontemps; Etienne Bourel; Michel Carassou; Brigitte Chauvin; Hélène Claudot-Hawad; Jean-Baptiste Comby; Anne Coppel; Annie Cyngiser; Jocelyne Dakhlia; Claudine Dardy; Sonia Dayan-Herzbrun; Catherine Deschamps; Rémy Dor; Stéphane Douailler; Marie-Dominique Garnier; Sabine Dupuy; Suzanne Durret; Arlette Farge; Franck Fischbach; Pascale Fontaine; Jean Claude Galey; Dominique Glaymann; Mélanie Gourarier; Judith Hayem; Bernard Hourcade; Bernard Hours; Fanny Jedlicki; Aissa Kadri; Fatiha Kaoues; Salam Kawakibi; Nicole Khouri; Ariane Lantz; Pierre Lantz; Estelle Le Touzé; Sk Levin; Jacques Lewkovic; Alain Mahe; Valérie Marange; Joëlle Marelli; Mohamed Mebtoul; Gisèle Miski; Christian de Montlibert; Louis Moreau de Bellaing; Barbara Morovich; Véronique Nahum-Grappe; Olivier Neveux; Bertrand Ogilvie; Françoise Palumbo; Juile Peghini; Thomas Piketty; Philippe Poutignat; Anne Querrien, Chimères; Claude Redele; Diogo Sardinha; Monique Selim; Guillaume Sibertin-Blanc; Claude Szatan; Pascale Tissier; Christian Topalov; Guy Trastour; Maryse Tripier; Christian Vaillant; Chritiane Volaire; Pierre Wermeren; Tassadite Yacine; Jean-Pierre Zirotti
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“Combatting anti-Semitism while defending our values”
The following letter was originally published in Le Monde on May 3, 2018, was relayed by the CRIF (the Representative Council of the Jewish Institutions of France), and is signed by Mario Stasi, President of LICRA, Dominique Sopo, President of SOS Racisme, and more than one hundred intellectuals. It was translated from the original French by David H. Pickering. The translated text appears here with permission from the original authors: Isabelle Kersimon, Stephanie Courouble-Share, Laurence Croix, Adelie Elbaz, Antoine Germa, Alain Policar, Jean-Yves Pranchere, Valery Rasplus, Shy Shriqui. The original is found here.
The more than 250 signatories of the “Manifeste ‘contre le nouvel antisémitisme'” (“A manifesto ‘against the new anti-Semitism'”) published on April 21 in Le Parisien are right to proclaim that “Anti-Semitism is everybody’s business.” The open letter is justified in expressing alarm at the intolerable resurgence of anti-Semitic hate crimes in France. In the past ten years, several Jews have been murdered in France because they were Jewish! Anti-Semitic hate speech is out in the open again, crossing a red line.
The letter rightfully underscores the harmful role played by Islamic fundamentalists and their ideological networks, which share the anti-Semitic obsessions of the far right and some of the radical left. It would be unthinkable to downplay this reality.
However, it overlooks the other impetus behind this resurgence of anti-Semitism: the rise of national populist movements. Even worse, by framing this as a rebuke of a Muslim community imagined as monolithic, by reducing it to a demand to modify the Quran, it feeds into the fantasy of an ummah with a radical Islamic agenda. Finally, by combining a few respectable names with others who are closer to the French “Identitarian Far-Right,” it increases the risk of confusion.
Anti-Semitism in All Its Diverse Forms
Anti-Semitic prejudice is on the rise all over Europe, and cuts across all social classes and faiths according to recent studies. Still very much alive on the far right, anti-Semitism has masqueraded since the 1960s as a radical strain of anti-Zionism that echoes age-old stereotypes of secret Jewish influence, notably by spreading the falsehood that there is an ban on criticism of Israeli policies in French society. Dieudonné and his supporters have realized this by using the term “Zionists” to evade France’s anti-hate speech laws. Let us not forget the calls to kill Jews that rang out at marches in July 2014 amid the silent approbation of some in the radical left, and also those heard at the “Jour de Colère” (“Day of Anger”) in January of the same year, where a patchwork of far-right extremists, disciples of Alain Soral, members of Civitas, Printemps Français, and the Manif pour Tous, as well as supporters of Dieudonné, Assad, and Hezbollah, all came together in the same obsession.
Anti-Semitism in radical Islam is fueled by both prejudice tied to conspiracy theories— the success of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the Arab world is well known—and a perversion of the Palestinian cause. Takfiristic Jihadism is a vehicle for hatred in all its forms, and calls for killing members of many groups: Jews, homosexuals, women, unbelievers, and religious minorities, not to mention Muslims themselves.
The French Republic must assert its unflagging determination to silence and punish not only hate-mongers, but all forms of militancy calling for murderous hatred. For the fact that our fellow Muslim citizens are susceptible to radical Islamic ideologies is real, and must be combatted for what it is: a clear and present danger to Jews, to France and to democracy. Anti-Semitism must be denounced in its totality. If we focus our attention exclusively on the anti-Semitism of Islamic radicals, we implicitly exculpate other political groups that promote anti-Semitism. And because of this exculpation we cannot fully combat it.
Enlightenment versus Obscurantism
But here again, an important detail is missing from the piece in Le Parisien. We can denounce the misuse of the term “Islamophobia,” even as we recognize that anti-Muslim acts and words do exist and that the French Republic condemns these just as it does all forms of racism. For the goal is to fight all forms of racism, which represent an imminent danger not only to Jews and Muslims but to France and democracy as a whole.
What this manifesto also conceals is the rise of national populism in Europe and internationally, and the reversal of Enlightenment values by governments like those in Poland, Hungary, Russia and Turkey. Nationalist ideologies insidiously attack human rights and democratic values. In most countries, populist expression is steeped in antisemitism, racism, homophobia, and sexism. It would be an intellectual and even a civilizational failure to think that we can fight anti-Semitism by excluding our fellow Muslim citizens from universalist ideals on the grounds that a tiny number adhere to this life-negating ideology.
For us, the war against anti-Semitism must be waged in the name of the progressive values on which our democracies were founded. It must be everyone’s cause, including that of Muslim leaders (some of whom, we mustn’t forget, have set a fine example). But we cannot seriously ask our Muslim citizens to “purge” their holy book by removing such-and-such a passage from the Quran. All the more because there is no reason to believe this would change either the trivialization of antisemitism or the obsessions of Islamic radicals.
Are we dealing with a new war of religions? No, we are engaged in a combat of Enlightenment values against the forces of ignorance. The struggle against anti-Semitism cannot allow itself to be compromised with reactionary populism dressed up as something else. It cannot be separated from an anti-racist, egalitarian, republican, and universalist combat. Overcoming sectarian fears and instincts is a fundamental condition if all of our fellow citizens, whatever their personal values, are to live in a more just and safe society.
List of signatories
Christophe Aaron Grand; Farid Abdelkrim; Jeanne Claire Adida; Sofia Alaoui; Fabienne Ankaoua; Pierre-Jérôme Adjej; David Assouline; Hanna Assouline; Eve Amouyal; Paola Ballerini; Serge Barbet; Fabienne Battault; Stephanie Bazylak; Abraham Bengio; Aïcha Ben Jelloun; Tal Benoliel Sfadj; Sophie Bolender-Reydellet; Flora Bolter; Caroline Boris; Dominique Bouissou; Omar Bouraba; Emmanuel Brassat; Ofer Bronchtein; Corinne Bouilhac; Maryne Bruneau; Gaël Brustier; Denis Charbit; Frédéric Chenou; Stéphane Chenou-Boyer; Gauthier Caron-Thibault; Sérénade Chafik; Dominique Chevalier; Samir Chikhi; Vincenzo Cicchelli; Denis Cohen; Dominique Cosnil; Stéphanie Courouble-Share; Laurence Croix; Jean-Philippe Daniel; Justine Daragon; Charles Darrasse; Alain David; Raymond Debord, cadre en protection de l’enfance ; Bruno Demolin; Tremeur Denigot; Gilles Denis; Rémi Desert; Daniel Dhombres; Adélie Elbaz; Christophe Fernandez; Nasser Ferradj; Daniela Festa; Stéphane François; Antoine Germa; Kamal Hachkar; Pierre Henry; Michel Hessel; Jérôme Impellizzieri; Elisabeth Jean Benichou; Catherine Join-Diéterle; Maati Kaabal; Mika Kanane; Pierre Kanuty; Isabelle Kersimon; Alban Ketelbuters; Renaud Labes; Yolande Laloum-Davidas; Alain Laskawiec; Laurie Laufer; Pierre Le Bec; Erwan Le Page; Loïc Le Quellec; Marie-Ange Lebas; Nicolas Lebourg; Carole Lemee; André Markowicz; Céline Masson; Nicolas Masuez; Frédérique Matonti; Maria Mellouli; Pascal Menigoz; Sylvie Mesure; Pascale Morel; Denis Moscovici; Jean-Luc Muller; Denis Murat; Karim Ourabah; Brice Payen; Marie-Ange Picot; Alain Policar; Mathilde Pousseo; Jean-Yves Pranchère; Valéry Rasplus; Myriam Revault d’Allonnes; Julien Rioult; Jean-Louis Rossi; Laurence Rossignol; Gilles Rozier; Fanny Rumiz; Sylvain Saint-Pierre; Bruno Saussier ; Florence Sautereau; Teldja Seniguer; Shy Shriqui; Julie Siboni; Dominique Sopo; Antoine Spire; Mario Stasi; Benjamin Stora; Brigitte Stora; Danielle Storper Perez; Gaël Tabarly; Sharon Tardigraski Sofer; Alain Vanier; Jean-Pierre Vendredi; Jean Vigreux; Saleha Vigreux-Benichou; Marina Ville; Naqdimon Weil; Ibrahim Wetti; Rosemonde Wojciechowski; Khawla Youssef; Julien Zakoian; Serge Zolty.