Pro-apartheid propaganda campaign targets Palestine activists in France

The following statement was initially released in French by the Collectif Palestine Vaincra, based in Toulouse and a member organization of the Samidoun Network. In the lead-up to and after the successful demonstration on 1 July, which brought hundreds of people in Toulouse to the streets to support Palestine, Zionist organizations like the CRIF – which claims to represent Jewish organizations in France but instead places its highest priority on lobbying for the Zionist settler colonial project in occupied Palestine – have escalated their media attacks and propaganda campaign against the Collectif Palestine Vaincra.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network stands with our comrades in the Collectif Palestine Vaincra against these attempts to repress Palestine organizing in Toulouse. We note that these attempts to ban demonstrations for Palestine come only weeks after the European Court of Human Rights condemned France for its violations of freedom of expression for earlier repression, arrests and criminalization directed at activists organizing for the boycott of Israel. Of course, it must also be noted that France continues to imprison Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, the Lebanese Arab Communist struggler for Palestine who has been jailed for 35 years.

It should be noted that, in the article by the CRIF regional president, Franck Touboul, discussed below, he essentially physically threatens organizers for Palestine, saying that “his community” will “dismantle their stands” for Palestine, thereby creating a “disruption of public order.” This article openly appears to incite violence against activists for Palestine in an attempt to create a pretext for the repression of Palestine activities in Toulouse. Nonetheless, the CRIF president, by all appearances, does not seem to worry about legal consequences for this kind of agitation – instead, the organization is stepping up its demands to ban Palestine organizing and deny fundamental human rights in France, a call that apparently has found a warm hearing from Toulouse mayor Jean-Luc Moudenc.

Photo credit: Collectif Palestine Vaincra

The translated statement follows:

On Wednesday, 1 July, a rally was organized in Toulouse at the call of about 20 organizations, to denounce the project of annexation of the West Bank launched by the Israeli Netanyahu/Gantz government. Nearly 300 people affirmed their support for the Palestinian people, as in many other cities in France and around the world. This was the reaction of the president of the CRIF Midi-Pyrénées in an interview with the newspaper La Dépêche. In it, Franck Touboul “denounces the inaction of the public authorities” in the face of the demonstrations of the Collectif Palestine Vaincra in particular, threatening to “go to confrontation” if the collective’s actions are not stopped. This defamatory article is the latest in a series of attacks by supporters of Israeli apartheid that aim to intimidate the Collectif Palestine Vaincra.

Franck Touboul claims to be surprised that the prefecture of Haute-Garonne has not banned the rally against the annexation of the West Bank, a project that is even denounced by the international community and the UN. With this article, he attempts to push the authorities to muzzle freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate.

More broadly, the president of the CRIF wants to ban our information stands that have been organised every month for the past year in the centre of Toulouse. He even wonders whether he should “involve activists from [his] community to dismantle [our] stand and thus characterize a disturbance of public order […]”. Franck Touboul thus aims to provoke a “public disorder” that does not exist in order to stop these activities.

He then refers to the murders perpetrated by Mohammed Merah. We denounce the equation of support for the Palestinian cause with Mohammed Merah’s anti-Semitic attacks. This rhetoric is part of a broader political strategy of mixing anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, encouraged by Emmanuel Macron’s formula that anti-Zionism was the “new anti-Semitism.” We recall that anti-Zionism is part of an anti-racist and antifascist struggle calling for an end to the occupation in Palestine. The amalgamation with anti-Semitism is an “intellectual” scam that should trick no one. We are outraged tha Franck Touboul instrumentalizes the memory of the victims of anti-Semitic attacks for a cheap political manoeuvre.

The president of the CRIF further states that the Collectif Palestine Vaincra Collective calls for a boycott of Israel in defiance of the decisions of French courts, which have “pronounced several condemnations” against boycott activists. We remind the president of the CRIF Midi-Pyrénées that last month, France was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for prosecuting activists who participated in boycott actions, emphasizing that these actions fall under the banner of freedom of expression.

Franck Touboul also attacks our campaign against the Toulouse-Tel Aviv sister city relationship. This is yet another demonstration that the campaign to challenge the twinning between Toulouse and the capital of a racist state is progressing and embarrassing the supporters of colonialism.

He also denounced “the support of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), designated as a terrorist organization (…)”. It comes as no surprise that a supporter of Israeli apartheid is worried about the growing defence of the project of a free and democratic Palestine, from the river to the sea, for all people with equal rights.

Finally, when the journalist of La Dépêche asked the president of the CRIF if he feared that “elements of the Jewish community would go into confrontation during the next demonstration of this collective,” the latter launched a frank appeal: “by their attitude, the public authorities give an impetus to violence. Today our members are sufficiently agitated to stop letting themselves be stepped on.” We are outraged that the president of the CRIF Midi-Pyrénées openly resorts to such gangster-style methods in an attempt to stifle all forms of expression contradictory to Israeli policy.

This new attack is an attack against all organizations and individuals fighting against racism and colonialism. These methods of intimidation will not silence us, they will not stop our solidarity!

4 July 2020