On April 8, the Young Communists Movement of France (MJCF), a political organization that supports discriminatory BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel, will host a symposium in the French Senate titled “2017: A Palestinian State Now!” .
The event will focus on two main topics: “From occupation to colonization until the annexation of Palestine” and “facing the annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories, act here and now before it is too late.” Participants will also discuss “the BDS campaign, and especially the struggle for the suspension of the EU-Israel association agreement.” Reflecting a lobbying agenda, an advertisement on the Platform of the French NGOs for Palestine (The Platform) website puts the event in the context of “for the presidential and legislative elections, let us speak loud and clear of the struggle for Palestine.”
Speakers at the event include:
- Claude Léostic, President of the Platform. Léostic barricaded herself as a human shield with Yasser Arafat in Ramallah in 2002, was arrested for her participation in the 2011 French Flotilla to Gaza, and used Nazi rhetoric to frame the situation in the West Bank and Gaza as equivalent to the Nazi occupation of France during World War II.
- Taoufiq Tahani, President of Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS). In 2014 and 2016, the organization transferred money raised under the banner “SOS Palestine” to Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) and Health Work Committees (HWC). These two Palestinian organizations have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – a designated terrorist group by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel.
- Maxime Benatouil, Vice-President of the French Jewish Union for Peace (UJFP). UJFP supports BDS campaigns and in 2016 its members traveled to Gaza and met with members of the PFLP terrorist group and the UAWC, an official PFLP affiliate.
The NGOs involved in this event receive French government funding. The Platform has received €470,000 in French government funding (from Agence Française de développement – AFD) since 2009 for various programs that aim to influence media and decision makers’ opinions of the Arab-Israeli conflict. AFPS is also a recipient of AFD funding for projects in the West Bank (€139,550 2012-2014) and €25,500 from the French Ministry of foreign Affairs and International Development in 2015.
Nor is this the first time the French Senate has served as a platform for anti-Israel activists and their campaigns. La Cimade is a French organization that supports BDS campaigns and received €4.3 million in French government funding in 2015. In June 2015, La Cimade presented its report titled “Israël-Palestine: l’avenir muré par l’occupation” (The Occupation is walling up the future) to the French Senate. The report refers to meetings held with representatives from Addameer, Al-Haq, and Alternative Information Center (AIC) – three NGOs with alleged ties to the PFLP terror organization –and recommends that the European Union “Suspend all economic aid or cooperation agreements between the EU and the State of Israel contributing directly or indirectly to the maintenance or development of settlements in the occupied territories and in Jerusalem.”
The French Senate hosting of BDS actors and French government funding for them are in direct contravention to a French Supreme Court decision that dictates that calls to boycott are illegal. This sort of activity further undermines France’s aspirations to play a leading role in creating an “environment” for peace negotiations.