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Macron says France will define anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism

Equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism in France may outlaw questioning Israel's right to exist as Jewish state
In 2017, Macron denounced anti-Zionism as form of bigotry (Reuters)

French President Emmanuel Macron told a Jewish-French group that Paris will define anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism, France 24 reported on Wednesday.

The move would practically outlaw anti-Zionism in France, where anti-Semitism is already illegal.

Macron's comments come a day after French lawmakers introduced a bill equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. The proposal came after anti-government "yellow vest" protesters hurled anti-Semitic insults towards philosopher Alain Finkielkraut.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Macron's pledge on Wednesday.

"French President Macron told Prime Minister Netanyahu that he would adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition which determines that anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism. The Prime Minister expressed his appreciation," Netanyahu's office said on Twitter on Wednesday.

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IHRA's definition of anti-Semitism does not mention Zionism. However, it lists "denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination" and calling Israel a "racist endeavour" as examples of anti-Semitism.

Critics of criminalising anti-Zionism say that it violates free speech by restricting legitimate criticism of Israel. And while Judaism is a 3,000-year-old religion, Zionism was pioneered by Eastern European writer Theodor Herzl in the late 1800s, calling for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.

Many Jews around the world do not identify as Zionists, though some Christian groups consider themselves Christian Zionists, as they support Israel in order to fulfil biblical prophecies.

If France begins treating anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism, questioning Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state may become a crime.

Some advocates of Palestinian human rights pursue a single state with equal rights for all citizens in Israel and the Palestinian territories, arguing that the two-state solution is no longer possible because of Israeli policies of illegal settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank.

In 2017, Macron denounced anti-Zionism as a form of bigotry.

"We will yield nothing to anti-Zionism because it is the reinvented form of anti-Semitism," he said at the time.