Anti-Israel groups plan Paris demonstration against ‘apartheid state’

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Anti-Israel activists in France are planning to demonstrate against the Jewish state, which they accuse of apartheid.

The event is scheduled to take place Saturday on Chatelet Square, organizers from the Coordination of Appeals for a Just Peace in the Middle East, or CAPJPO, wrote on the group’s website.

“No to blackmail by means of anti-Semitism,” they wrote, implying that criticism of Israel is being unfairly labeled anti-Semitic. “No to the dictates of the Israeli lobby. No to attacks on freedom of expression. No the attacks by the fascist thugs of the Jewish Defense League.”

The protesters wrote that they will “demand sanctions instead of the current collaboration of the French government with Israeli apartheid.”

The International Solidarity Movement — a far-left group that, like CAPJPO, supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel – wrote on its website that the protest was for a “separation of CRIF and state.”

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CRIF is the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, which defines itself as Zionist and engages in pro-Israel advocacy as well as lobbying efforts on this issue.

The organizers of the rally, which police approved, did not call for a boycott of Israel – an action that is illegal in France under 2003 legislation that proscribes discrimination against countries or their citizens.

Nonetheless, Meyer Habib, a French-Jewish lawmaker who served as vice president of CRIF, asked Interior Minister Matthias Fekl on Wednesday to ban the rally in an open letter published by the Huffington Post.

“It needs to be prohibited because anti-Semitism today in France feeds off of hatred for Israel,” Habib wrote. “This hatred uses the mantle of political correctness and support for the Palestinian cause and the BDS campaign, which is illegal.”