June 9, 2021 — Paris, France
French President Emmanuel Macron, in an historic address to the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Virtual Global Forum, reaffirmed his commitments to combat antisemitism, strengthen France’s relations with Israel and the United States, and ensure that Iran’s ballistic missile and regional activities are addressed in any agreement. It was Macron’s first address to an American Jewish organization since his election as president four years ago.
“Antisemitism is, as it always has been, an unacceptable, unjustifiable menace, in the face of which we must relentlessly mobilize all our energies,” said Macron. “I want to remind you of my unwavering commitment, and that of the French government, to protect all of the population and fight against all forms of violence and discrimination.”
Combating antisemitism “begins with the ability to name this evil that eats away at our society,” said Macron, noting that France adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism in December 2019.
But he emphasized that a definition “is not enough,” and outlined several actions his administration has taken to implement a national plan to combat antisemitism.
“Education is at the heart of the fight against antisemitism,” Macron said. “Holocaust education, as well as education about the manifestations of contemporary antisemitism, aims to remove prejudices and break down stereotypes.”
To combat hate on the Internet France has created, under CSA, the country’s broadcasting authority, an online hate watchdog which brings together platforms, organizations, researchers, and institutions.
To better support victims of hate crimes and increase the effectiveness of investigations, the president said France has created a network of investigators and specialist magistrates.
Regarding the recent French court decision to not try the man charged with murdering Sarah Halimi, Macron said, “I would like to clarify that this decision did not, in any way, deny the antisemitic nature of this act.” Noting that the court had applied existing law that a person who is not of “sound mind cannot be found criminally liable,” he said the Minister of Justice is seeking to modify the “current legal framework, where the perpetrator deliberately takes toxic substances.”
“It is indeed shocking that someone who takes drugs in order to change their mental state is not held accountable,” said Macron. “Above all I want victims to be heard. We owe it to them.”
Turning to the Middle East, Macron noted, “France's profound attachment to Israel's security since its creation and to its right to defend itself in accordance with international law has never wavered.”
Recent events, referring to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, “demonstrate the necessity for a decisive boost to the negotiations” to achieve lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace. “We know the parameters to reach a two-state solution, and France stands willing to contribute, while respecting the legitimate aspirations of each party.”
He praised the “normalization of relations between Israel and France’s other essential partners,” especially Morocco and the UAE, adding that Sudan “must be supported in its transition process.”
On the Iranian nuclear issue, Macron said, “there is no alternative to a negotiated solution,” and that France, since President Biden’s election, has been working with the U.S. and other partners “to find a solution that maintains security and stability in the region in the long term.”
“Iran must show evidence of their responsibility in the region,” said Macron. France, he added, has been proposing since 2018 “to supplement the JCPOA by taking into account Iran's ballistics activities and regional destabilizations.”
The French president voiced delight that the United States has re-engaged globally, “which contributes to the strength and effectiveness of our collective action.”
“The strength of the relationship between France and the USA is well illustrated with our longstanding cooperation with the American Jewish Committee,” said Macron. “France, will remain, as she always has, at the United States' side when it comes to reaffirming the strength of the democratic model.”
The president praised the AJC Paris office, initially set up after World War II, and today directed by Anne-Sophie Sebban-Bécache. “During a time marked by a resurgence in hate speech, and attempts to question the democratic model, your involvement is essential in combating antisemitism and hate, encouraging dialogue, and promoting democratic values.”