Since the beginning of 2019, French organizations that promote an anti-Israel agenda have been lobbying French elected officials to oppose a “motion for a resolution to combat anti-Semitism.” Some of these groups receive French government funding.
The Platform of the French NGOs for Palestine (PFP) is spearheading this pressure campaign, falsely claiming that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism is merely one of “the tools” by which “Palestinian rights organizations are increasingly targeted by attacks and attempts to equate their actions with antisemitism.”
PFP states that it will oppose any resolution that includes “reference to a largely fantastical antizionism,” and does not “explicitly exclude ‘examples’ supposed to illustrate the ‘IHRA definition’.”
On December 3, 2019, a “motion for a resolution to combat anti-Semitism” will be discussed in the French National Assembly. The purpose of this motion is to “endorse the working definition of antisemitism used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance as a useful guidance instrument for education and training in order to support judicial and law enforcement authorities in their efforts to detect and prosecute antisemitic attacks more efficiently and effectively.”
This follows France official endorsement of the IHRA working definition of antisemitism. During the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) annual dinner (February 2019), President Emmanuel Macron declared that “antizionism is a modern form of antisemitism.”
The Platform of the French NGOs for Palestine (PFP)
PFP is a French network association composed of 40 French NGOs that are active in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Some of its members – such as Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS), Union Juive Française pour la Paix (UJFP), and Association of Academics for the Respect of International Law in Palestine – are active in BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel. Boycotts and calls to boycott are illegal in France. Since 2001, the PFP is chaired by a member of AFPS.
Its politicized activities and publications include taking part in discriminatory BDS campaigns such as advocating for a ban on importing all “settlement products” and discouraging French companies “from investing in settlements.” According to a former president of PFP, it lobbies elected officials “systematically.”
The French government funds PFP through the French Agency for Development (AFD). AFD provided PFP with €270,000 (2017-2020), €225,000 (2014-2017), €199,000 (2011-2014), and €46,560 in 2009. According to AFD, PFP “provides the analytical, political and legal elements, necessary for a good understanding of the situation” (emphasis added).
PFP involvement against the motion for a resolution to combat antisemitism
In 2019, PFP sent two letters1 to France’s president, including one demanding that he “not respond to the requests of individuals and institutions wishing to advance the consideration of Resolution No. 1952, not to pursue the application of the said ‘IHRA working definition’ and to refrain from formally adopting it.” A letter was also sent to the French Prime Minister.
In addition, PFP sent an open letter to the President of the French National Assembly and the heads of political groups and commissions. This letter was co-signed by several French NGOs including AFPS, UJFP, Pax Christi France, League of Human Rights (LDH), and Movement against Racism and for Friendship among Peoples (MRAP) that are all active and/or promote discriminatory BDS campaigns against Israel.
PFP also published a report “The Dangers of the Maillard Motion for a Resolution”; a short document with “3 reasons why MPs must oppose motion for resolution no. 2403 presented by Sylvain Maillard on December 3, 2019”; and a draft letter “Alert about the motion for a resolution 2403 to combat antisemitism” to be sent to MPs by members of the public.
Finally, PFP shared a call for a demonstration against the motion for a proposal.
Other French organizations, some that are also members of PFP, are also exerting pressure against the motion. For example:
Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS)
AFPS is a PFP member that legitimizes the use of armed struggle and advocates for the removal of the terror groups Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) from the European list of terrorist organizations. In addition, AFPS declares that BDS is one of its “main means of action,” and considers the cultural and academic boycott as “legitimate and important.” In this regard, AFPS participated in “the international campaign in order that the 2019 Eurovision competition doesn’t take place in Israel and in any case that France doesn’t take part in.”
On November 27, 2019, AFPS was invited2 to participate in a round table at the French National Assembly to address the motion for a resolution against antisemitism. AFPS also called for a demonstration in front of the National Assembly.
On February 21, 2019, AFPS published a press release “Under the orders of Israel, Macron chose to divide France,” in which the association describes the President’s speech at the CRIF dinner as “lamentable” and France’s official endorsement of the IHRA working definition of antisemitism as a “black day for our republic.”
Since 2012 at least, AFPS has been a partner of AFD in the implementation of agricultural projects in the West Bank. For these projects, AFD provided AFPS with €320.000 (2017-20203) and €139,550 (2012-2014).AFPS declares that the objective of its projects in the West Bank and Gaza “is always political” (emphasis added).
Union Juive Française pour la Paix (UJFP)
On November 20, 2019, UJFP Spokeswoman Michèle Sibony addressed the MPs in a video (shared by PFP) about the resolution and insinuated that it was antisemitic: “there is no question of isolating Jews and designate them in this way, it is dangerous for Jews, that’s a bit of antisemitic.”
On June 14, 2019, in a letter addressed to MPs and relayed by PFP, UJFP criticizes the resolution’s opposition to challenging “‘the existence of a Jewish state,’ which denies in fact the characterization of apartheid that qualifies the policy of this state.” For UJFP, “the criticism of the State of Israel cannot be limited to criticizing the current policy of the Netanyahu government, a racist foray ahead of apartheid. The logic of discriminating Palestinians from second-class inhabitants in their own country is practiced since the Israeli State was unilaterally proclaimed in 1948. There will be no lasting peace in this part of the world until the Israelis will not recognize the Nakba (the forced exodus of more than 700,000 non-Jewish Palestinians from the territory that became Israel in 1948) as a founding crime and that the right to reparations (including the right of return) will not be opened.”
- PFP, « La pénalisation de l’antisionisme », February 19, 2019: https://plateforme-palestine.org/La-penalisation-de-l-antisionisme; « Les pressions exercées pour avancer l’examen de la proposition de résolution n°1952 », July 2, 2019: https://plateforme-palestine.org/Les-pressions-exercees-pour-avancer-l-examen-de-la-proposition-de-resolution
- The information was provided by people who attended the round table.
- The project was programmed to end in 2019 but AFPS reported the project was extended until 2020.