Jewish organizations all over the world have welcomed a ruling by France’s highest court of appeals which has made it illegal to call for a boycott of Israel in France—even though it is perfectly legal to call for a boycott of any other country.
The astonishing ruling—one of many in France which has its roots in the organized Jewish lobby there—was made by the Cour de Cassation (Court of Cassation) after a lengthy case which saw several pro-Palestinian activists arrested for urging a boycott of Israeli-manufactured goods.
The activists had been arrested after trying to organize a boycott of Israeli-made goods in the Carrefour grocery chain under the aegis of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The activists’ “crime” consisted of arriving at a Carrefour supermarket wearing T-shirts reading “Long live Palestine, boycott Israel,” and handing out fliers that said that “buying Israeli products means legitimizing crimes in Gaza.”
The activists were arrested and prosecuted under legislation known in France as the “Lellouche law.” This is named after the Tunisian-born French Jew, Pierre Lellouche, who, while a member of the French parliament for Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party, introduced the law in 2003.
An article in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper explained the law this way:
Named for the Jewish parliamentarian who introduced it in 2003, the law is among the world’s most potent legislative tools to fight the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, and has catapulted France to the forefront of efforts to counter the movement through legal means.
Haaretz went on in the same article to quote Joel Rubinfeld, co-chair of the European Jewish Parliament and president of the Belgian League against Anti-Semitism, on the lower court conviction of the activists:
“The French government and judiciary’s determination in fighting discrimination, and the Lellouche law especially, are exemplary for Belgium and other nations where discriminatory BDS is happening,” said Joel Rubinfeld, co-chair of the European Jewish Parliament and president of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism.
Prior to that case, Haaretz added, there have been “approximately 20 anti-Israel activists who have been convicted under France’s so-called Lellouche law.”
The Carrefour protestors decided to appeal their conviction by taking the case to the Cour de Cassation—and it is this appeal which has now been turned down.
In ruling against the activists, who had claimed that they were only engaging in freedom of expression, the court cited “the French republic’s law on freedom of the press, which prescribes imprisonment or a fine of up to $50,000 for parties that ‘provoke discrimination, hatred or violence toward a person or group of people on grounds of their origin, their belonging or their not belonging to an ethnic group, a nation, a race or a certain religion.’”
In other words, the court ruled that it is illegal to call for a boycott of Israel because Israel is essentially a racially-based state—an admission which has implications that the court probably did not think through to its logical conclusions.
Pascal Markowicz, chief lawyer for the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France (Representative Council of Jews in France, or CRIF), one of the most aggressive Jewish lobbies in France, celebrated the ruling by announcing in an official statement that “BDS is Illegal in France.”
Statements advocating a boycott or sanctions, he added, “are completely illegal. If [BDS activists] say their freedom of expression has been violated, now France’s highest legal instance ruled otherwise.”
In America, the Jewish “JointMedia News Service” (JNS), which is one of the major Jewish wire services providing content to Jewish newspapers all over the world, said in its reaction that “It’s official: BDS is hate speech” (October 29, 2015), and this article was repeated in many other Jewish media outlets, such as the Algemeiner in New York.
It is, of course, perfectly legal in France to advocate sanctions against Iran, or Russia, North Korea, or any other country.
The CRIF, for example, called for sanctions against Iran as early as 2006 (“CRIF Calls for the World of Sport to Take Sanctions Against Iran” January 3, 2006) and has, like the international Jewish lobby and the state of Israel, continued to demand sanctions, boycotts, and disinvestment of Iran and any other nations hostile to Israel ever since.
However, these same Jewish lobbies have now engineered the situation in France so it is now illegal—and punishable as a criminal offence—to advocate a boycott or sanctions against Israel, no matter how outrageous that state’s human rights abuses against Palestinians might be, or how many United Nations resolutions the Jews-only state has contravened.