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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region
Chapter II: Delegitimization in France

Chapter II: Delegitimization in France

France is a rather active country when it comes to the delegitimization of Israel, and BDS in particular. Many activities stem from far-left elements in the country, including Jewish organizations. Various activities are co-organized by “red-green” coalitions of far-left and Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated players. France is also the home base of several lawyers who represent Hamas and use technical legal restrictions to make sure it was removed (at least temporarily) from the EU list of terrorist organizations. The same lawyers are involved in “law-fare” against Israel. Recent “direct action” demonstrations on a large scale have been against the Tel-Aviv sur Seine (Tel-Aviv on the Seine) festival in August 2015, in which banks of the river were turned into a makeshift beach with sand, sun-loungers, cocktails, and beach volleyball.136

France has Europe’s strongest anti-BDS law – the 2003 Lellouche law – and has applied the anti-discrimination statute to punish (BDS) activists. The law bars discrimination against people based on national origin. French courts view BDS as an illicit act, targeting Israelis because of their nationality.137

In October 2015, the French High Court ruled that activists who called to boycott Israeli products were guilty of discrimination, adding that French law prohibits the discrimination of nations.138 In early 2016, the then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that, “French authorities must change their attitude,” adding that “it is perfectly obvious how we have shifted from criticism of Israel to anti-Zionism, and from anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism.”139 The party of current French President Emmanuel Macron withdrew from its parliamentary elections ticket a candidate who promoted a boycott of Israel.140