From the defense of the Jews, from Israel through Iran, the initiative of Holland, the elected in France, the anti-Zionism, the former Prime Minister confides to the Times of Israel
This interview was conducted in Jerusalem, two days before the murder of Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor who was found burned at her home in Paris last Friday.
Times of Israel Beyond words, concretely, what can be done to fight antisemitism?
Manuel Valls First of all, we must not deny the facts, we must tell the truth. There is anti-Semitism, it is very important to establish the correct diagnosis. To recognize if our action in recent years has helped to reduce anti-Semitism, on the other hand the very violent facts against French Jews have progressed. And reported to the population of Jewish French, about 500,000 people, these are facts that are too important, too violent.
Especially since victims do not complain, and in some neighborhoods of Lyon, Paris, Marseille, there is pressure, words, attitudes, people feel an Arab-Muslim community pressure with words, antisemitic, and sometimes unobtrusive, but enough for people to say 'we can not live in this place anymore'.
So, it must be said and we must also remember that anti-Semitism today is that of Islamism, it must be said.
One must not be afraid to say that anti-Semitism is the fruit of the behavior of Arab Muslims young and old. There is a general discourse coming from the Near and Middle East that comes from the families, which comes from the Internet and which is consolidating a hard core, a minority, very anti-Jewish, very anti-Semitic, very anti-Israeli on background of conspiracy and criticism of capitalism, which necessarily comes from Jews and with a far-left that supports that too, this kind of new anti-racism, and Israel, it's the new Nazis, it's racists, it's apartheid.
We must name things.
Justice must be extremely severe, but it must be exemplary and severe.
Is justice severe in France?
Yes. But it must be exemplary and severe. Because anti-Semitism like any racism, is a crime not an opinion.
There was a whole debate on the reissue of the pamphlets of the great French writer [Louis-Ferdinand] Célinebut who had written torrents of anti-Semitic mud.
All this is very important justice must pass. I think there are three fields that need to be totally invested, a fourth too.
The first is the school, of course you have to arm the teachers because there are teachers who can not teach the Holocaust.
They talk about the Holocaust, and the students talk about the Palestinians. "The Holocaust did not exist"
Armed with what?
By preparing and training them. By sending to schools where there is a problem a team able to make children talk. When a child in a school answers the question 'what is your enemy?' by "the Jew! Is that there is a problem.
But the teaching of history does not solve everything. Especially since the last survivors of Auschwitz, Mauthausen, Dachau do extraordinary work in the schools, but will disappear. Even if we record their testimonies.
Secondly, it's the Internet, it's the networks. We are watching carefully what is Germany doing, financial penalties that could amount to 50 or 60 million euros. The cooperation with the GAFA, Google, Facebook, is essential, the work on the platforms.
I know that here in Israel people work there, they have techniques to know who the people are behind the anti-Semitic campaigns. Europe must make decisions, it is long but France is very committed in this direction.
Thirdly, it is necessary to accompany the victims, very often they feel isolated.
What do you mean by accompanying them?
You have to be with them constantly, because they feel very often abandoned.
Antisemitism for many is unclear. Racism must be included in criminal law as an aggravating circumstance for all crimes and offenses.
Alternative and pedagogical penalties are also needed for authors to understand the scope of their actions. They must be able to get out of this. And there needs to be special care for victims of anti-Semitism such as terrorism.
The trauma of a family that has suffered violence, beatings, words and is forced to relocate must be accompanied morally, and then the list of convictions for racism and anti-Semitism must be regularly published to show that justice does not exist. leave nothing in this area.
Do we need tougher laws? Must the laws be changed or are they adapted?
They are already very severe, but the law must be enforced and properly enforced. It may be necessary to change the law for those who, on the Internet and on social networks, engage in racist, anti-Semitic or conspiracy campaigns. It is necessary to raise the level of the financial sanction.
We have rather evolved positively with Google, Facebook, Twitter etc. Because at the beginning, they retrenched behind the first amendment of the US Constitution, we all did our "alyah" in San Francisco to talk with them but we came back. But there is a lot of work to be done. But as I told you the opponent number 1, it is first of all the anti-Semite. And the anti-Semite is the extreme right and today Islamism. It is this Islamism that must be fought.
Did you work on the new plan against racism and anti-Semitism of the government?
We are consulted each other. In addition, the inter-ministerial delegate, the patron of this administration [Frédéric Potier de la Dilcrahit was me who appointed him.
I'm in the group at the national assembly working on issues of anti-SemitismI am vice-president of this group.
Are you satisfied with the work of this study group?
On the technical side it's good work. But I want to be clearer who the opponent is.
There was one call very important of 100 intellectuals in Le Figaro left and right, there are people like Bernard Kouchner, Luc Ferry. It denounces the danger of 'Islamist separatism'.
In some neighborhoods and in some prisons, there is a kind of apartheid, but upside down.
These are neighborhoods marked by Arab-Muslim immigration. In Israel, you also know these subjects, there are groups inside that seek to seize power, there at the mosque, there creating an association, there a school, there by becoming a municipal councilor of a city.
And behind, there are Salafists.
They are not all with a terrorist project, but they want to take power where they can.
In prisons it's clear, it's the school of radicalization. There are 500 terrorists in prison, and there are 1,500 radicalized common law detainees. Sometimes they are small penalties. When will they go out, what will they do?
In some universities, there is a pressure on the type of teaching, on science with young Muslims, but they are good, but challenging. And of course in the popular neighborhoods where there are thousands of young people who have become radicalized. And that's the real problem.
Because it is separatism in the sense that they no longer recognize France, its values and for many who hold a speech or anti-Semitic, or hatred towards Israel.
What happened in Sarcelles, whose mayor is François Pupponi, who was called little Jerusalem, with many Jews from North Africa after 1967.
There was a very good agreement: there were Eastern Christians, Africans, Maghrebians and many Jews, who were not poor. There were many doctors and lawyers in Paris who lived in Sarcelles.
Today can we walk in the streets of Paris, Sarcelles, Tours, Poitiers with a kippa on the head?
In Paris and Sarcelles, it depends. But in some neighborhoods north of Paris, in some neighborhoods of the Paris suburbs, wearing a kippah can be dangerous.
But then, does the situation get better or worse?
The action of the State is improving, the awareness of the French is there fortunately. The battle against anti-Semitism gives results. But everyday anti-Semitism is developing, but it is 'normal' since radicalization is developing.
And in the Arab-Muslim populations, there is a fight that is not led by Islam. It is up to Islam to lead this debate. Islam in France is the second religion, several millions. Everyone does not practice, but it is probably the first in terms of practice. It is a French religion. They are not immigrants, they are children and grandchildren of immigrants.
In France studies have been made. For half, they have no problem, but 30% think Sharia is above the law, above the Republic. They are not all terrorists, of course, but they have these conceptions. And then there is a hard core, 10-15%, which is on a very radical vision of things.
Do you carry a message of hope to Jerusalem - we have identified the problem and we are going to solve it - or you are rather pessimistic - we are doing what we can but the enemy is stronger?
The message I will be holding just now is a message of fighting and hope.
Because I think our values are stronger, I do not think for a moment that Islamists will win power in France.
It's not ' Submission From Houellebecq. But they can break pieces of territory, they can break. That's why we need to be very clear about Islamism and also about the issue of anti-Zionism.
You said that anti-Zionism is the new form of anti-Semitism. And you had a lot of support in Israel in the Jewish French community. Where do you place the border, the boundaries between anti-Zionism and the legitimate criticism of the State of Israel?
I believe that Israel, and we are not going to get angry with our Lebanese friends, is considered the only democracy, a great and beautiful democracy in the Near and Middle East.
Criticism of the Israeli government is fierce in Israeli society and the press. The judiciary and the police work in a completely independent way, as we can see.
And it is normal that governments while being friendly towards Israel mark their difference. It is no secret that President Emmanuel Macron does not have the same position as Donald Trump or Benjamin Netanyahu on the issue of Jerusalem. And so I think we still need a critique of the Israeli government's capacity for action.
But the campaigns of BDS [Boycott Divestment and Sanctions] ...
They are not legitimate in your opinion?
No, they are not legitimate. And indeed in France, the boycott against democracies is illegal. This is based on a judgment of the Court of Cassation which is based on the European Union and Israel.
Between France and Israel and the reality of what Israeli society is. Campaigns and articles for Palestinians to be recognized as a state are part of the debate. There is no problem.
The phrase "Israel is an apartheid state," is it anti-Semitism or legitimate criticism?
This is an excellent question. I said: 'In France, there is territorial, social, and economic apartheid in certain neighborhoods'. Jean-Luc Mélenchon called me a 'Nazi' because of his stance on Israel. We went to court.
There was a changeover after 1967, 1970 and then the failure of Oslo and then the second Intifada, or the anti-colonial discourse of a large part of the left, of the Third World countries no longer having the Soviet bloc switches to Israel. Right now, it's the Durban Conference on South Africa. This is a very important moment, because here you have all the talk that is built on the so-called racism of Israel.
A number of colonies can be criticized. The international community has to say 'be careful, there is something wrong'. The Israeli Supreme Court can itself make a number of decisions. There is a debate in Israeli society, even within the military and former intelligence directors. These debates exist.
On the other side, there is a construction, in addition with words like 'apartheid' in reference to South Africa, the 'Nazism' that killed 6 million Jews so that's why it's is a political, intellectual debate ...
When we say that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. This question must be answered: where is the limit?
The limit is the negation of the State of Israel. When you have political forces in France taking part in demonstrations where Israel's hatred is shouted with photos of Hitler, when you shout " dead to the Jews As in 2014.
There we are on the other side of the border.
But it is true that the border is not always clear. When I attack Dieudonné, part of the pressLe Figaro, Le Monde and Libération are for once in agreement, they are against me, in the name of freedom of expression.
There is what is legitimate, and words that are not opinions but offenses under our law. And for Israel, I do not pursue people in the courts, I denounce them politically. I see who the enemies are.
When Hubert Védrine, or another politician says 'Israel does not go in the right direction, there is even a policy of impoverishment of Palestinians', I hear it. But the one who denies Israel its existence is where there is the new anti-Semitism.
I see. I would also like to discuss with you French policy in the Middle East. Do you think the Paris Conference is a good idea? At the time you could not express yourself because you were Prime Minister. What can you tell us today about this conference in which Israel has never placed any hope?
France, which rightly thinks of being able to speak with confidence to others, even if it is sometimes harsh, but the relations with the Israeli government are of good quality and we also have relations with the government of the Palestinian Authority. I went to Ramallah, twice received the head of the government of the Palestinian Prime Minister [Rami Hamdallah].
France can sometimes think of trying to bring together the different protagonists. I think this method is behind us. I do not condemn it, but I do not think it's viable, it's effective. We must do otherwise. It must be recognized that the only way today is to go through direct discussions.
If I understood you correctly, this conference was a bit of a waste of French public money?
No, you have to say things like that. Obama, contrary to what one might think, does not put this topic on his agenda in his second term.
Obama no, but Kerry yes.
Yes, Kerry, Fabius, and Ayrault, who succeeds him, discuss a lot together. There is a dialogue.
But from the moment the Israelis themselves say that the solution can only come from a discussion between Palestinians and Israelis.
But what I think is important is that the international conference Madrid-Oslo, in a world that was the world east-west, it is necessary to remember, with still the consequences of Oslo, this vision is exceeded, it is behind us.
There is the war between Sunnis and Shiites, there is the war in Syria, there is the Iranian power which now has this corridor up to the Mediterranean, the Shiite arc, there is the danger of Hezbollah in Lebanon and in Syria, there is the potential Iranian danger on which Israel is right to alert us, there are all these elements.
The bottom line is, even if it is completely different, what Shimon Peres told me before his death, about Israel and the Sunni world, university partnerships, water research; and what Bibi [Nickname of Benjamin Netanyahu, widely used both by his opponents and his allies] says when he advocates a discussion with the Gulf countries, that is a very important element.
But behind it, there is the idea that Palestinians who are Sunni, and even if they have not benefited much from the support of the Arab countries. In this new game, there is also Turkey. There is the fear of the Israelis that I share for Europe, the rise of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, when Morsi was elected.
And all these elements create an environment extremely hostile to Israel. When we talk about an idea of an international conference, we are on an idea of working method that is full of good will, it was not to generate Israel but which seems to me outdated, even if it must be recognized that any another method is extremely difficult.
And then, there is the reality of the ground. This is not a value judgment. There is the reality of what Israel is today. It's not Jerusalem of 1967, or 1973. There is what happened in the West Bank, there is what happened in Gaza. The city of which I was mayor, Evry, was twinned with Khan Younés. I went there twice. It was held by a popular committee close to Fatah or the PLO.
It was hard. But I saw the difference. We were working, there were associations working on electrification, women's work, young Palestinians and young Palestinians who came to Evry. And then suddenly, nothing. The war, the place of women in Palestinian society marginalized by Hamas. People from the people's committee who have disappeared.
Other subject. Is not it ridiculous to think that Jerusalem is not the capital of the State of Israel?
I am clear on this subject. Jerusalem is the capital of the Jews and Israel. Historical, religious and political.
Is there a "but"?
No. It is at the heart of the foundation of the State of Israel. Even if at that time, Jerusalem was not part of it. And then, I believe that the Knesset is in Jerusalem, the presidency of the State of Israel, all ministries except the Ministry of Defense. For the Israelis, Jerusalem is the capital. I think we should always start by talking about political and historical reasons.
If you had won the elections, how would you have reacted on December 6 when Donald Trump decided to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?
I'm just wondering what it's all about. We must then see what diplomatic consequences this entails. We see that it did not ignite the territories. All this is not exclusive, Jerusalem could also become the capital of a Palestinian state. And this issue has not been addressed at this stage by Donald Trump and the international community.
So this remains an element of the discussion, and to consider that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel is not contradictory to what tomorrow may be the political status of Jerusalem. There is a huge passion for Israel and Jerusalem, because everything comes from there, at least as far as our European, Middle and Near Eastern civilizations, and part of Asia are concerned.
So every time you touch something it's nitroglycerin. Look what happened when we closed the Esplanade [Temple Mount], the [Western] Wall, the work of archaeologists. Here it is not archeology when it comes to finding a Gallo-Roman villa in the south of France. It takes a very powerful symbolic proportion.
Israeli governments know this well. This dimension must be apprehended by everyone.
Do you think that the time has come for the world, especially the Arab world, to recognize Israel as the state of the Jews, as Netanyahu wishes before the negotiations?
The subject is abrasive, sensitive. This is not my conception of things elsewhere. I am French, I am a French political leader, a Republican attached to secularism.
But who will deny the reality of the foundations of the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, even if it is founded by atheistic socialists, weapons in hand. But this subject concerns more the inhabitants of this region.