France (QNN) – French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday he plans to criminalize anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism, in response to a surge in hate crimes targeting Jews.
Speaking at a dinner for a French Jewish association, Macron announced the new definition as part of a set of measures to combat anti-Semitism, which he said had reached a level that was “probably unprecedented” since the Second World War.
Macron said the government would adopt the definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance to help public officials respond to anti-Semitism, which is illegal in France.
While the intergovernmental organization’s definition doesn’t explicitly mention Zionism, it says anti-Semitism can take the form of “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor.”
The move has sparked debate in France, after a group of lawmakers proposed a bill Monday that would make anti-Zionism a criminal offense. Some critics have warned against conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, saying it could suppress legitimate criticism of “Israel” and would be an undue restriction of free speech.
“It’s historical illiteracy, or worse, stupidity,” said French journalist Dominique Vidal to France 24. “The confusion between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism allows [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu], who is concerned about his own image, to silence his opponents.”