PARIS (AP) — The French government will adopt an international organization’s definition of anti-Semitism and propose a law to reduce hate speech from being circulated online, French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday.
Macron, speaking at the annual dinner of a Jewish organization, said France and other parts of Europe have seen in recent years “a resurgence of anti-Semitism that is probably unprecedented since World War II.”
Macron said applying the working definition of anti-Semitism drawn up by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance would help guide police forces, magistrates and teachers in their daily work.
Since the intergovernmental organization approved the wording in 2016, some critics of Israel have said it could be used suppress Palestinian rights activists. The definition states anti-Semitism can take the form of “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”
Macron said he thinks that view is correct.
“Anti-Zionism is one of the modern forms of anti-Semitism,” the French leader said in Paris at the dinner of Jewish umbrella organization CRIF. “Behind the negation of Israel’s existence, what is hiding is the hatred of Jews.”
Macron also said that his party would introduce a bill in parliament in May to force social media to withdraw hate speech posted online and use all available means to identify the authors “as quickly as possible.”
Macron speech comes one day after thousands of people attended rallies across France to decry an uptick in anti-Semitic acts in recent months. On Tuesday morning, about 80 gravestones spray-painted with swastikas were discovered in a cemetery in a small village of eastern France.
French President Emmanuel Macron observed Tuesday a moment of silence with parliament leaders at the Holocaust museum in Paris.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said Wednesday that a man has been arrested over a torrent of hate speech directed at Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut during a Saturday march by yellow vest protesters. The insults included words like “Zionist!” and “Go back to Tel Aviv!” and “We are France!”
The man was taken into custody Tuesday evening after a police inquiry was opened into a suspected public insult based on origin, ethnicity, nation, race or religion.
The government last week reported a big rise in incidents of anti-Semitism last year: 541 registered incidents, up 74 percent from the 311 registered in 2017.