Speaking at a dinner attended by Jewish leaders, Macron said a surge in anti-Semitic attacks in France was unprecedented since World War II and promised a crackdown including a new law to tackle hate speech on the internet.
France will adopt the definition of anti-Semitism set by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), he said, adding: “Anti-Zionism is one of the modern forms of anti-Semitism.”
The IHRA definition does not use the phrase “anti-Zionism” but does say denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination “e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor,” is anti-Semitic and “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country” is not.
Welcoming Macron’s actions, the World Jewish Congress said, “This is just the beginning of a long road ahead. Adopting this definition of anti-Semitism must be followed by concrete steps to encode into law and ensure that this is enforced.”
Germany and Britain adopted the definition in texts in 2016, though the European Union in 2018 adopted a softer tone, calling the IHRA definition a “guidance tool” amid concern from some member states that it could make criticism of Israeli policy, particularly with regards to Palestinians, difficult.
Macron’s comments came after headstones in a Jewish cemetery were desecrated with swastikas.
This also came a few days after United States congresswoman Ilhan Omar faced backlash for calling out Israel’s influence on the country’s politics via the AIPAC lobbying group. She was called an anti-Semite and made to apologize.