Militant French body divides community

By Shirli Sitbon, April 17, 2008

A Jewish journalist has split community opinion by calling publicly for a militant Jewish body to be banned.

Frederic Haziza, the political editor of French Jewish radio station J, wrote an opinion piece in the national Liberation newspaper demanding the small, right-wing Jewish Defence League body be dismantled.

The group, which claims 200 members, has been accused of assaults on anti-Israeli and revisionist figures and violent demonstrations, but denies any involvement in such incidents.

It most recently roused the ire of the organised community after sabotaging an event organised by the Jewish umbrella group CRIF in honour of Israeli president Shimon Peres during his state visit last month in France.

As Mr Peres was addressing the community, in the presence of French national officials, a dozen militants interrupted his speech by shouting repeatedly “traitor”.

“The next day, several CRIF officials examined whether the French JDL could be dismantled,” Mr Haziza said. “It is intolerable that these extremists sabotage such an event, give a bad name to the community and accuse Shimon Peres of being a traitor. These are the same words as the ones shouted against Isaac Rabin before his murder,” he continued, adding that he had received support from the president of CRIF Richard Prasquier as well as Israeli ambassador Daniel Shek.

However, other communal officials confirmed that the JDL has occasionally assisted CRIF in the battle against antisemitism.

“JDL militants have occasionally informed us on antisemitic groups which they have been watching, or on racist internet sites,” said Samy Ghozlan, the head of the Vigilance Bureau against antisemitism.

“They have never worked with our community security services officially, but certain CRIF leaders did meet with JDL militants in the past,” a CRIF official told the JC.

A JDL leader calling himself Michael Carlisle said that the CRIF was now seeking to have them dismantled, but said his group would pressure them to abandon this plan.

“We have recorded some conversations we have had with CRIF officials in which they express their support for our activities. If CRIF decides to denounce us, we will release the tapes,” the JDL leader said.

    Last updated: 4:06pm, May 13 2008