Jewish Defense League mob attacks Paris journalists

Riot police had to be called out in Paris Thursday night as the offices of Agence France-Presse were attacked by a large crowd of pro-Israel extremists.

The Jewish Defense League, a violent radical Zionist group, was angry with AFP’s coverage of current events in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip and present-day Israel.

One of the mob said the demonstration was part of their support for Israel and “our war against the Arabs … journalists working for organizations like AFP support the Islamic terrorists and that’s why we have to fight back.”

Video proudly posted on JDL France’s Twitter account shows the mob letting off flares and chanting “Am Yisrael Chai,” or “The people of Israel live” – a Hebrew slogan popular with Israel’s ultra-nationalist right.

The crowd, some of whom were armed and masked, carried Israeli and JDL flags.

David Perrotin, a journalist for the French edition of the news site BuzzFeed, was assaulted after being surrounded by a dozen masked men wielding blunt instruments.

Perrotin Tweeted from the scene: “A demonstrator told me ‘I warned the JDL that you’re here Mr. Perrotin.’”

Perrotin had to flee toward police lines, where he was held for his own protection. BuzzFeed’s French editor-in-chief Cecile Dehesdin later tweeted: “Thank you for your messages, David Perrotin is under security.”

BuzzFeed issued a brief report on the incident Friday.

As the group approached the entrance to the building, opposite the Paris stock exchange in the center of the capital, tear gas was sprayed as skirmishes with riot police broke out.

Jewish extremists

Founded in the United States, JDL militants were convicted of a string of bombing attacks there, and are thought to be behind the 1985 assassination of Palestinian American civil rights activist Alex Odeh.

The group was listed in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual terrorism report for 2001.

Although its Israeli affiliate was eventually banned, the JDL is still active and legal in France, Canada and the UK.

The French JDL – the Ligue de Défense Juive – is probably the most well-organized and violent radical Zionist group outside Israel.

It is notorious for relatively sophisticated street-level attacks against Palestine solidarity campaigners in France.

There have been several calls to outlaw the JDL in France. But talk of a ban by interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who once condemned their actions as “excessive,” has so far come to nothing.

In June last year, two JDL members in Paris were found guilty of placing a bomb under the car of an anti-Zionist journalist. They were given prison sentences, but one absconded to Israel.

Armed members were also involved in a riot in the Bastille area of Paris in summer 2014, as they attacked Palestine solidarity demonstrators during rallies against the Israeli offensive in Gaza.



The French JDL has been involved in attacks on pro-Palestine media commentators and politicians, and has also ransacked Paris bookshops, art exhibitions and events aimed at raising money for Palestinians.

A former member of the group may also have been partly responsible for the death of the father of French journalist Benoît Le Corre in 2014.

Gregory Chelli, a French Jewish extremist now living in present-day Israel, goes by the nickname “Ulcan.” In a prank call to Le Corre’s parents, Chelli allegedly impersonated a police officer and told them that their son had been killed in a car accident.

Two days later, Chelli allegedly called the police again impersonating Le Corre’s father, Thierry Le Corre, and claimed to have just murdered his wife and son.

Armed police raided the home, finding only Le Corre’s terrified parents.

A few days later, Thierry Le Corre suffered a massive heart attack in which, doctors said, the stress of these events was likely a factor. The elder Le Corre died in hospital a few days later.

Benoit Le Corre had reported on Chelli’s hacking attacks targeting Palestine solidarity websites.

In June of this year, a French anti-Zionist Jewish activist was arrested by police after a similar hoax tip-off that he had murdered his wife. Chelli was the suspect once again.

A global network

A smaller group calling itself the Jewish Defence League UK last year invaded the stage at a Palestine literary festival in north London and assaulted organizers.

Roberta Moore, the group’s leader, later had a conviction for two counts of assault and one of possession of an offensive weapon overturned on appeal, but her accomplice Robert De Jonge’s conviction stuck.

Moore once led far-right group the English Defence League’s Jewish Division and was expelled for being too extreme even for them.

She and De Jonge have sought to establish ties with Victor Vancier, once the JDL’s master bomber in the 1970s and 1980s, who spent years in jail for his crimes. The JDL’s founder himself once dubbed Vancier “the most dangerous Jew alive today.”

The JDL is not yet banned in Canada either, even though it has orchestrated violent demonstrations such as a recurring hate march against a Palestinian community center in Vancouver.

The original JDL was founded in 1968 by the notoriously racist Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose detailed manifestos called for all Palestinians to be expelled by force from what he called the “Land of Israel.”

Kahane later moved to present-day Israel, where he successfully stood as a candidate for the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

Although his party Kach, the Israeli affiliate of the JDL, was eventually banned, his once fringe ideas are now maintream in Israel’s largest political parties.

Today, the distinctive yellow-and-black flag of the JDL is a regular sight at “Death to the Arabs” marches in Israel, as it was in Paris Thursday night outside the offices of AFP.

With reporting by Peter Allen in Paris.

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Comments

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For what is worth to comment here, you should know that the great majority of the Israeli people and sionists from everywhere (like me) hate this group. Kahanism has been banned even from Israel. Focusing on the extremists and on the pariah as if they were speaking for the people will not help (and this goes both sides).

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The banning of Kahanism in Israel long ago became a moot point. The ideology promoted by the Kach founder and his followers has been fully absorbed into mainstream politics there. To maintain that racist beliefs represent an aberration among Israeli Jews is to deny the daily evidence, the toll on Palestinian bodies and lives, indeed on the character of the Zionist state itself. I'm not talking merely about the tremendous accumulation of incidents and ad hoc campaigns bearing the stamp of Kahanism, but of the deep pattern of legal discrimination and official violence that mark the imposition of absolute racial domination, which he espoused.

But the issue isn't one man, now dead. The systematic crimes of a regime can neither be laid at the feet of a single individual, however noxious, nor can they be dismissed simply by attributing them to rogue elements. Israel as presently constituted- an exclusionary ethnic state- is the issue, not some alleged pariahs.

Incidentally, the settlers, soldiers and police carrying out these acts of dispossession and murder are treated not as outcasts but heroes of a sacred cause. The pariahs in this equation- the real outcasts- are the native population of Palestinians. And that's where people should be taking their stand, if they want to truly disavow figures like Kahane.

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Why do the French put up with this? These are terrorist groups and they should be outlawed. The police should have put a quick end to this violence. What does Israel hope to achieve with this uncontrolled zionist violence in the streets of Paris?

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Ah yes, freedom of speech. These right-wing nut jobs think they can hide Israel's crimes by using violence. They are wrong.

And they're worried by Arab terrorists.....give me a break.

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In Israel and Palestine it is indeed "the opinion of most Zionists" and represents
what has inevitably become a criminal, murderous, oppressive Zionist government.
(See resources available elsewhere.)

It is not distinct from Revisionist tactics (Jabotinsky-Begin etc.) which have
become the mainstream of Israeli conduct.

From what could be ascertained from the video presented, applause should
go to the police for their professionalism and restraint. As I am sure you
are aware, in the US things are very different indeed. The authorities come
out shooting "in self-defense" they say such as in the many demonstrations
in support of #Black Lives Matter. These demonstrators should have ended
up in prisons (I don't know French law to be more specific).

Just as settlers in Palestine who attack Palestinians, who demolish homes,
murder, rape, terrorize children should also be incarcerated. If
neccessary "for security reasons"---the security of Palestinians.
This should naturally include members of the IDF who participate
or look the other way.

The 24/7 monitors which the upper-ups think will bring
"peace" are absurd. Unless, of course, there are monitors
within and around each and every settlement.

The illegal wall must go as well as the Jewish-only settlements.

US funds for weapons must cease.

Revisionism must be considered illegal whether in
Paris or Israel or Palestine.

-----Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He first visited Palestine in 2004.