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France unveils plan to combat antisemitism

Student visits to historical sites connected to hatred is just one the initiative’s 80 measures

Every student in France will be given the opportunity to visit historical or memorial sites linked to antisemitism or racism as part of the country’s newly unveiled plan to combat hatred.

The National Plan to Fight Racism, Antisemitism and Discrimination Linked to Ethnic Origins for 2023 to 2026 was unveiled on Jan. 30 and is an update to the original plan, which was first announced in 2018.

The plan contains five primary goals, which are to measure the reality of racism, antisemitism and discrimination in France; accurately describe the reality of hate; provide better education and training for combating discrimination; sanction perpetrators; and support victims.

In addition to the student visits, 80 measures were listed in the plan. They include training civil servants on discrimination; studying discrimination in hiring and access to housing; streamlining the process for victims to file complaints; and making harsher penalties for government employees who participate in racist or antisemitic speech or actions.

Representatives of the American Jewish Committee, which worked with the French government to devise the plan, were among the audience at its unveiling. AJC’s Paris director Anne-Sophie Sebban praised the initiative, saying it is “essential for the government to have a robust strategy dedicated to confronting antisemitism in all its forms.” She noted that this plan, unlike its predecessor, creates benchmarks to judge how each component is working.

Antisemitic crime has spiked in France in recent years, with one watchdog group saying there were 589 hate crimes against Jews in 2021, an increase of 36% over the previous year. In 2022, several killings in the country were investigated as being motivated by antisemitism.

France is home to an estimated 500,000 Jews, the largest population of Jews of any country in Europe. While annual emigration statistics fluctuate, several thousand French Jews typically leave the country each year, often relocating in Israel.

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