Earlier this week, both President Emmanuel Macron of France and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York made bold statements declaring their support of Israel, definitively condemning anti-Zionism as a modern manifestation of anti-Semitism.
President Macron in a ceremony on July 16 addressed growing religious tensions in French, as well as the French government’s complicity the Holocaust. In an unprecedented declaration, President Macron forcefully asserted that anti-Zionism is a “reinvented form of anti-Semitism,” dispelling any equivocation on the subject. As Professor William Jacobson, author of the Legal Insurrection blog and a member of LDB’s Law Student Speakers Bureau, noted, world leaders are beginning to call out anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism, and Macron’s refusal to “surrender to the message of hate” is incredibly powerful given the wave of anti-Semitic incidents across Europe.
The significance of the date was not lost on the audience: on July 16th-17th, 1942, over 13,000 French Jews were herded into the Vélodrome d’Hiver (or Vel d’Hiv) stadium in Paris. France’s politicians in the past have denied French responsibility for the Vel d’Hiv roundup, placing the blame on the Germans and the collaborative Vichy regime instead. However, Macron aims to draw attention to the French government’s direct role in the roundup, and to take responsibility for France’s wartime actions in order for the country to move forward. In the wake of rising anti-Semitism in France, President Macron’s statements serve as a strong declaration of support to French Jews.
The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Schumer of New York, applauded President’s Macron’s statement on anti-Semitism in his speech before the Senate on Monday, July 17. He praised Macron’s description of anti-Zionism as a reinvented form of anti-Semitism due to its denial of the Jews’ right to a homeland, and he cited multiple historical examples of prejudice towards Jews in Europe. A staunch supporter of Israel, Senator Schumer has also repeatedly advocated against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. In a speech before AIPAC earlier this year, he referred to Israel as a “humanitarian leader in the global community.” He further condemned the BDS movement as a “biased campaign” working to delegitimize the Jewish state. Cognizant of the rise of the BDS movement, particularly on college campuses, Senator Schumer forcefully urged politicians to take action against the BDS movement. New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, signed an executive order in June of last year directing state agencies to divest public funds supporting BDS campaigns against Israel. Ohio, North Carolina, and numerous other states have signed similar bills.
The notion that anti-Zionism often manifests as anti-Semitism is not a new one. President of the Louis D. Brandeis Center, Kenneth L. Marcus has written extensively on the subject of modern anti-Semitism. In about 2004, Israeli politician and worldwide human rights leader, Natan Sharansky, outlined the so-called “3-D Test of Anti-Semitism” to distinguish criticism of Israel from outright anti-Semitic behavior. Under the 3-D Test, criticism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitism where it 1) Demonizes, 2) Delegitimizes, or 3) applies it to a Double standard. Variations of this test have been adopted by worldwide bodies including the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and the U.S. Department of State.
As Senator Schumer summarized, “the idea that all other peoples can seek and defend their right to self-determination, but the Jewish people cannot; that other nations have a right to exist but the Jewish state does not, that too is a modern form of anti-Semitism, just as President Macron of France said this weekend.”