French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in a weekend interview with The Wall Street Journal that the anti-Israel and anti-Zionist sentiments spreading in French society have all the necessary elements to be considered antisemitism.
The new type of Jew-hatred began in the 1970s, according to Valls, and he described it as having “all the components of antisemitism, the old ones,” including a “plot”-based view of imagined Jewish conspiracies.
“Step by step,” the elites’ anti-Semitism “followed a migration and impacted young people in the poor neighborhoods,” Valls said.
“There will always be a couple of idiots who desecrate Jewish cemeteries-the petit Nazis,” Valls added. “But unfortunately I think that the anti-Semitism that struck French society is much deeper than that. In 2013 or 2014, you have people in the streets of Paris chanting ‘Death to the Jews!’ And in all the attacks in Paris or the attacks in Copenhagen, targeting the Jews is really at the heart of their motivation.”
The prime minister has been among Europe’s most vocal advocates for the Jewish community and was recently the target of an antisemitic smear himself when former Socialist Foreign Minister Roland Dumas claimed that Valls’ policies were influenced by his wife’s Jewishness. Valls is married to renowned violinist Anne Gravoin, who is a French Jew.
Dumas claimed in a television interview that Valls “has personal alliances that mean he has prejudices. Everyone knows he is married to someone really good but who has an influence on him.” He later refused to apologize for the remarks.
Valls told The Wall Street Journal that Dumas’ comments did not affect him “at a personal level.”
“Except that I felt that I was dirtied all over,” he explained. “But I immediately understood that when a former minister, a president of the Constitutional Council, says something, his words have a lot of influence for young people. It gives justification for how they think.”