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Paris, 20 September 2012

In a letter to the French Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, applauded the Minister's personal commitment and that of his Ministry "to the defence of the French Jewish community in particular, and all other victims of hate-crime in general.

The Centre pointed to "the challenges in securing soft targets that go beyond identifiable community institutions such as houses of worship and schools – apparently the case of the Sarcelles kosher supermarket yesterday." lauding the Minister's "immediate visit to the damaged premises to reassure the wounded and the community of a neighbourhood known colloquially as “Little Jerusalem”." 

Samuels recalled "the wave of 29 shootings and bombings of Jewish targets in France between the October 1980 Copernic synagogue and the August 1982 Rue des Rosiers massacre," continuing, "these atrocities proliferated and can be co-related along a timeline of increasing media demonization of the State of Israel, in a continual domino cause and effect between discourse and murder." 

The letter added, "Ironically, it was the Israeli incursion into southern Lebanon in the summer of 1982 that ended that wave of antisemitic violence.  Europeans, being trained in Palestinian terror camps on Israel’s northern border took flight homewards, where Action Directe in France, Baader-Meinhof in Germany and Italy’s Red Brigades, broadened their offence beyond the local Jewish community."

Samuels stressed "They now focused on soft targets such as department stores (Marks & Spencer, Tati), banks and embassies.  The authorities cracked down, proving the late Simon Wiesenthal’s axiom that “what starts with the Jews never ends with them.  It becomes a scourge for general society”." 

The letter stressed that "Though the circumstances differ, the contingencies of discourse -violence- discourse are a constant.  Indeed, the Mitterrand government 1982 “Vigipirate” and related counter-terrorism measures carry useful indications for an updated response. Thus, our Centre urges your consideration of the following measures:- 

- reinforcement of the inter-ministerial committee on hate crimes:- 

(a) the committee’s terms of reference should be expanded beyond data gathering. 
(b) the committee should be reinforced with intelligence, law enforcement, justice and education officials whose modus operandi is predicated on rapid action response. 
(c) community and faith leaders should be encouraged to work together transversally in taking measures to pre-empt their own youth from behaviour or company associated with incitement to hate and violence. This requires parental awareness and monitoring of inculcation and recruitment sites on the internet. 

- guidelines are needed to more clearly establish a code for media – while defending freedom of expression – that will make authors of deliberate, capricious or unfounded provocation (as in the claim of Jewish/Israeli responsibility for the anti-Muslim film) accountable for eventually violent consequences." 

"Mr. Minister, as discussed in our recent meeting, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre is ready to work with you in containing these resurgent threats," concluded Samuels.