The new Interministerial Delegate for Combating Anti-LGBT Racism, Anti-Semitism and Hate, appointed in May, chose the Times of Israel to unveil his plans
Times of Israel You belong to the prefectural body and have worked in the cabinets of Claude Bartolone, when he chaired the National Assembly, and former Prime Minister Manuel Valls. You have also been in office at the Ministry of the Interior. What led you to accept this position of Delegate?
Frédéric Potier : I served the Republic and I want to continue in this way. I followed a lot of the ultra-marine files. So I was sensitized to the issue of slavery. And even if I was little confronted with racism in my personal existence because of Béarn, land of tolerance, defending the universalist values is for me the most beautiful of the missions. This is the meaning of my commitment.
How to describe the action of your predecessor, Gilles Clavreul?
He's a longtime friend. He is prefect and has been sous-préfet like me. We often met each other, we were together at Place Beauvau, in the interior ... He is an energetic man.
From his appointment in November 2014 to last May, he was able to install the DILCRAH in the public landscape, obtained serious resources and was able to gather talented personalities, while forging a series of effective partnerships with the associative world.
Its action plan against hatred 2015-2017 was proactive and ambitious.
Will you have the same means?
I am not a decision maker, but I think so. In the fight against racism, there is continuity between the previous executive and the power of today. We saw it with President Emmanuel Macron's very strong speech at the ceremony on July 16th.
He clearly recalled the responsibility of the French state in the roundup of Vel 'd'Hiv' and showed his determination, his intransigence in the face of racism and anti-Semitism.
The deputies voted late July the impossibility for a convict on racist or anti-Semitic grounds to run in a parliamentary election. This means, for example, that the anti-Jewish propagandist Dieudonné, a candidate in Essonne in June 2017, will no longer be able to run for the vote. How do you react to this change?
The International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA) has fought on this point and I welcome a remarkable legislative progress.
It is hardly easy to reconcile fundamental democratic freedoms - such as the right to stand for election - and the fight against hate speech and exclusion.
The Constitutional Council takes care of the grain and is legitimately eyebrow. I know it all the more because I myself was in charge of the electoral law with the Minister of the Interior.
Do you understand the emotion provoked in the Jewish community by the silence around the assassination of Sarah Halimi, defenestrated in Paris on April 4, and the refusal of the prosecution to qualify the crime, at this stage, of anti-Semitism , barbarian and Islamist?
I understand and share the trauma of the Jews of France about this painful issue.
The President of the Republic wished, on July 16, that all the light be made by justice. It is not my responsibility to comment on an ongoing procedure.
I met representatives of Jewish institutions and I deplore with them the emergence of new forms of anti-Semitism, particularly related to radical Islamism.
As for anti-ZionismAlthough it was debated within the Jewish community in the first half of the 20th century, today it is clearly a 'reinvented' way of hating Jews, as Emmanuel Macron the extent to which he denies the legitimacy of Israel's existence.
That said, if the case Sarah Halimi did not attract the attention of the media at first, to speak of omerta does not correspond to the reality.
But it seems that not everyone has been sufficiently aware of how much our compatriots have been shocked by this crime.
What do you say to the president of the CRIF, Francis Kalifat, when he accuses one or the other of constantly presenting the killers of Jews as irresponsible imbalances?
Former Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, about the violence in New Caledonia, had hammered that nothing could justify that one fired on gendarmes. Likewise, no excuse can morally clear an antisemitic murder.
But criminal irresponsibility is something else: it is a judicial qualification that is part of education. This does not detract from the heinous and unacceptable nature of such a crime.
Racist and anti-Semitic acts have been dropping sharply for over a year. How to accentuate the movement?
After the 2015-2017 plan, DILCRAH will present a new three-year plan for 2018-2020. It will take much further in the fight against hatred on the Internet. We have made progress with more reports, more cooperation from operators and higher court convictions. But extremist groups remain hyper-active on social networks.
To catch up ahead of time, it is probably necessary to take inspiration from the German example, with very dissuasive financial penalties. On the other side of the Rhine, you can get a fine of up to 50 million euros for non-removal of unwanted content!
The fascinating site of Alain Soral is always visited every month by millions of fans ...
The character you are quoting has been condemned, like others.
For them, the obstacles are stronger than in the past but we must redouble our efforts to counter the sites in question - without illusions: in a democratic state like ours, digital hatred will not be eradicated from the day on the next day.
What are your educational projects?
I note that our agreements with places of memory have given excellent results. Visits of schoolchildren, students, teachers or future police officers in a particular museum or former internment camp, citizenship courses at the Paris Memorial to the Holocaust reserved for the perpetrators of racist and antisemitic acts ...: these innovations made possible by the work of DILCRAH are encouraging and effective. They must be extended and generalized, especially in the provinces.
I intend to work in this direction.
What do you want to say to the Jews of France who make their alyah for security reasons?
Going to Israel for ideological or religious reasons is respectable. But I regret that some leave our country for fear of anti-Semitism. We must do everything so that this feeling disappears. As summarized by Manuel Valls, "France would not be France without Jews".
It is enough to read Pierre Birnbaum's book on "State Jews", entitled "The Fools of the Republic" (Fayard), to realize how much the destiny of our democracy is inseparable from the history of the Jews of France, how much they have contributed decisively to shaping our Republic.
To ban circumcision or ritual kosher slaughter, is this a form of anti-Semitism?
I will not comment on this or on decisions made abroad in this regard. I will simply recall that the Republic has been able to accommodate these practices so far. I am sure she can always do it and can do it in the future. In any case, I wish it.