French court: Centrists slandered leftist with anti-Semitism claims

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — A French court found three center-right politicians guilty of defaming a far-left counterpart when they accused him of being affiliated with anti-Semites.

In the ruling Thursday by the Correctional Tribunal of Paris, the judge ordered the three Union for a Popular Movement politicians – Alain Juppe; Jean-François Copé and Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet – to each pay $1,300 to the defamed, Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

The ruling, according to Le Monde, concerns claims made by the three against Mélenchon, asserting that he has anti-Semitic acquaintances or that he associates with anti-Semites. The claims were made after he posted on his blog a text by the Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis against that government’s austerity measures.

In 2003, Theodorakis was quoted as saying that “Jews are the root cause of evil” in the world. But Melenchon said he had no knowledge of Theodorakis’ anti-Semitic statements when he posted the blog.

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Separately, the French far-right author and Holocaust denier Alain Soral was called to appear before the same court on Thursday in connection with a complaint filed against him alleging incitement to racial hatred.

The complaint concerns a picture that Soral posted on his Facebook account in which he is performing the quenelle at a memorial site for Holocaust victims in Berlin.

The quenelle is a gesture that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called an anti-Semitic expression of hate, though its inventor, the French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, claims it’s a sign of discontent with the establishment. Both Dieudonne and Soral have multiple convictions for inciting hate against Jews and denying the Holocaust.

In an unrelated action, the Union of Jewish Students of France, or UEJF, on Wednesday announced that it and the SOS Racisme watchdog group had filed criminal charges against 10 members of the far-right National Front party for allegedly making racist statements.