Sylvain Cypel suggests that the French clown Dieudonné’s anti-Semitism is not as much of a threat to French society as manifestations of hate toward Arabs, Muslims and blacks (“A French Clown’s Hateful Gesture,” Op-Ed, Jan. 24).
But anti-Semitism is central to Dieudonné’s twisted brand of humor. His disparaging remarks about the Holocaust, his claims that Jews are responsible for slavery or the killing of Christ, and his friendship with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the former Iranian president, are clear examples of why France’s interior minister, Manuel Valls, banned Dieudonné’s latest national tour. He has been convicted seven times for hate speech against Jews, violating France’s anti-racism law.
The renewed focus on Dieudonné’s dangerous antics comes at a time of increasing concern among European Jewry about anti-Semitism. France is not exempt. Indeed, France is the only European country since World War II where Jewish schoolchildren were murdered because they were Jews, as occurred in the 2012 terror attack on a school in Toulouse.
Government and civil society leaders have condemned attacks on Muslims and blacks. More needs to be done to counter such expressions of hate. Belittling the seriousness and centrality of anti-Semitism in France, however, does not help those seeking to strengthen democracy and pluralism in France.
Director, France Office
American Jewish Committee