France

Dior suspends John Galliano after antisemitism row

By Jennifer Lipman, February 25, 2011

Fashion house Dior has suspended its chief designer John Galliano after he was arrested for allegedly making anti-Jewish comments.

Dior's chief executive Sidney Toledano, who is Jewish, said Mr Galliano would be relieved of his responsibilities until after the results of an investigation into the incident.

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On this day: Emile Zola on trial

By Jennifer Lipman, February 7, 2011

When Zola’s J’Accuse letter was published on the front page of a French newspaper in January 1898 it was a remarkable act of bravery on its author’s part.

Written in protest at the French government’s treatment of Jewish artillery officer Alfred Dreyfus, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for treason, Zola was one of a group of intellectuals and artists who sought to secure his freedom.

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On this day: Roman Polanski flees

By Jennifer Lipman, February 1, 2011

When the Swiss Justice Ministry rejected an extradition request from the United States for Polanski last summer, it was just the latest chapter in a story every bit as dramatic and complex as one of the director’s films.

Born Raimund Liebling in Paris, Polanski survived the Holocaust by escaping from the Krakow ghetto, although his mother was killed in Auschwitz.

After the war he worked his way up in the Polish film world, moving to Hollywood in the 1960s and going on to make Oscar-winning classics including Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, and The Pianist.

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Reporter attacked at Marine Le Pen party

By Michel Zlotowski, January 20, 2011

Aa journalist for TV news channel France 24, was assaulted and suffered antisemitic abuse while reporting on the election of Marine Le Pen to the presidency of the extreme-right National Front party last weekend.

Mickael Szames said he was taking snapshots of Ms Le Pen dancing with her father at a post-election cocktail party when he was attacked by security guards.

Reporting the next morning on France 24, Mr Szames said: "Eight FN security officers knocked me to the ground and hit me repeatedly for taking pictures at the reception.

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On this day: Klaus Barbie arrested

By Jennifer Lipman, January 19, 2011

Known as the “Butcher of Lyon”, Barbie was the local head of the Gestapo in Nazi-occupied France during the Holocaust.

Estimated to be responsible for the murders of 4,000 people, among his many hideous crimes, he tortured members of the French resistance and personally arranged for 44 Jewish children in an orphanage to be sent to Auschwitz.

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Teacher banned for Holocaust 'obsession' back at work

By Jennifer Lipman, January 11, 2011

A Jewish history teacher who was suspended by French education authorities for teaching too much about the Holocaust has returned to work.

In September 2010 Catherine Pederzoli was given a four-month suspension for lacking "distance, neutrality and secularism", principles seen by the French as vital safeguards of the separation of Church and state.

Ms Pederzoli, from Nancy in eastern France, faced the allegation that she was obsessed with the Nazi gas chambers.

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Brigitte Bardot campaigns to ban shechitah in France

By Jennifer Lipman, January 5, 2011

Actress Brigitte Bardot has launched a campaign to ban the religious slaughter of animals in France.

Ms Bardot, along with six other animal rights groups, aims to put up more than 2,000 posters encouraging the government to outlaw both the Jewish practice of shechitah and the Muslim method, halal, of killing animals.

The posters include a graphic image of a cow’s head.

Ms Bardot, 76, wants religious slaughter to be replaced “to prevent animals suffering."

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'Kosher' gym takes off in Paris

By Michel Zlotowski, December 22, 2010

Finally, paris has what communities in many European cities have long yearned for: a place where the observant can keep fit and keep modest at the same time.

Kosher Gym, located in the heart of Paris's northern Jewish community in the 19th arrondissement, offers the facilities of "regular" gyms - including showers and locker rooms - but, as its creator, David Cohen, says: "There is no problem of tzniut because no male is around when women are in the gym."

Mr Cohen, who spent a year in a yeshivah near Paris learning Torah and playing football, loves to work out in his spare time.

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'Marine Le Pen? Chip off the old block'

By Michel Zlotowski, December 22, 2010

A regional leader of the Council of French Jewish Organisations (CRIF), Marcel Amsellem, has warned Jews not to be deceived by the National Front's possible new leader, Marine Le Pen, whose popularity is on the rise in France.

"Those who believed Marine Le Pen would be more acceptable than her father are unbelievably gullible and of bad faith," said Mr Amsellem.

A recent poll indicates that Marine Le Pen, 42, the youngest daughter of extreme-right wing leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, is due to get 12 to 14 per cent of votes in the 2012 presidential election.

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Ilan Halimi murderers retried

By Michel Zlotowski, December 22, 2010

The President of the Council of French Jewish Organisations, Richard Prasquier, said he was satisfied with the retrial of the self-proclaimed "Gang of Barbarians" who tortured to death Ilan Halimi five years ago.

A court of appeal handed stiffer sentences to the two main accomplices of gang leader Yusuf Fofana, who had their convictions increased from 15 to 18 years. The rest of the accused had their first sentence confirmed.

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