“Only Israeli tourists in France must be warned to tell their children: ‘speak anything but Hebrew until we leave for home.’”

Paris, 11 December 2019

In an open letter to French Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner, Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, noted that, “only last week, I sat in the National Assembly (Lower House of Parliament) applauding your speech that welcomed the vote accepting anti-Zionism as a form of antisemitism... It took only a few days to encounter a new threat.”

The letter continued, “For French Jews, it is considered dangerous to wear a ‘kippa’ on their head in public... Now, even speaking Hebrew openly is considered as a provocation.”

An Israeli student in Paris dared to speak in Hebrew in a phone conversation with his father, while on the metro. He was then beaten to unconsciousness, reportedly by two “Africans.”

“Could this be a precedent for speakers of English, German, Chinese or Arabic... Hardly likely,” argued Samuels, adding, “I recall a Minister of Culture, Jacques Toubon, whom I asked for an example that would violate his ‘Law to protect the French language’... He jokingly responded, “walking down the Champs Elysées with the International Herald Tribune (now renamed The New York Times International Edition) under your arm.”

“But the status of Hebrew is, apparently, no joke. It is another vector for antisemitism... Only Israeli tourists in France must be warned to tell their children, ‘speak anything but Hebrew until we leave for home!’,” concluded Samuels.