France’s National Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution conflating support for Palestinian equality with hatred of Jews – an initiative supported by the country’s Israel lobby.
But most lawmakers did not take part in the vote.
Meanwhile, Wallonia, one of Belgium’s three federal regions, confirmed that it is pulling back on official cooperation with Israel, citing Israeli violations of international law.
Fewer than half of the 577 members of France’s lower house were present for Tuesday’s vote.
Of those, 154 backed the resolution and 72 opposed it.
The so-called Maillard resolution endorses the controversial IHRA definition of anti-Semitism promoted by Israel and its lobby.
The IHRA definition has been widely condemned for conflating criticism of Israel’s racism against Palestinians with anti-Jewish bigotry in order to delegitimize support for Palestinian rights.
The National Assembly resolution however calls the IHRA definition “an effective tool to combat anti-Semitism” which, it alleges, includes “manifestations of hatred towards Israel justified solely by the perception that it is a Jewish collectivity.”
The nonbinding resolution urges law enforcement to use the IHRA definition to “uncover and prosecute” supposed instances of anti-Semitism.
On Monday, 127 Jewish and Israeli intellectuals published a call in the newspaper Le Monde urging French lawmakers not to back the resolution.
“Our opinions on Zionism may be different, but we all think – even those who consider ourselves Zionists – that associating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is fundamentally wrong,” the intellectuals say. “This conflation is profoundly harmful to the numerous Jews who consider themselves anti-Zionist.”
They add that for Palestinians, Zionism has meant “dispossession, displacement, occupation and structural inequality.”
Other lawmakers posted on Twitter that they too would oppose the measure:
Israel’s racist state ideology
The resolution’s sponsor, Sylvain Maillard, is a member of President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling La République en Marche party.
Earlier this year, Macron told the French Israel lobby group CRIF that his government would support efforts to criminalize opposition to Zionism, Israel’s state ideology.
Zionism is the belief that Jews should have a state of their own in historic Palestine.
However since Palestine’s indigenous Muslim and Christian population was – and still is when Palestinian refugees living in forced exile are taken into account – overwhelmingly non-Jewish, Zionism is inherently discriminatory.
Zionist militias could only establish Israel as a Jewish state in 1948 by perpetrating the Nakba, the expulsion of some 800,000 Palestinians and the destruction of hundreds of cities, towns and villages.
Israel has only been able to maintain its violently gerrymandered Jewish majority by preventing the return of Palestinian refugees, in violation of international law, solely and exclusively because they are not Jews.
Israel relentlessly pursues the Zionist goal of a Jewish-majority state through blatantly racist policies ranging from apartheid laws discriminating against Palestinians to regular massacres in the Gaza Strip.
While the French resolution passed, it clearly failed as an effort to impose a consensus that criticizing Israel’s racist ideology and practices is itself racist or anti-Semitic.
Despite official efforts to silence them, activists in France continue to press for accountability, especially their campaign urging insurance giant AXA to divest from firms that aid Israeli human rights violations.
Belgian trade mission canceled
The European Union is also working closely with Israel lobby groups to institutionalize the IHRA definition in an effort to stamp out activism for Palestinian human rights.
But campaigners on the continent appear undeterred.
Activists in Belgium last week celebrated victory after a trade delegation to Israel was canceled.
Officials from the Wallonia and Brussels regions had been scheduled to travel to Israel this month to promote Belgian exports.
The campaign group Association Belgo-Palestinienne said that mobilizing its members to oppose the mission produced results: Official participation in the junket has been called off.
Elio di Rupo, a former Belgian prime minister who is now premier of the Wallonia region, confirmed to state broadcaster RTBF that no officials would take part in the trip.
“The absence of progress in the peace process, the lack of progress on the ground and the violation by Israel of the Geneva Conventions push us to hold back on official cooperation,” di Rupo said.