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What’s Wrong With ‘Marwan Barghouti Street’?

A watchdog on anti-Semitism vowed legal action against a French municipality that named a street after Marwan Barghouti, a popular jailed Palestinian leader.

The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, on Wednesday prepared to motion an administrative court to void the move by the municipality of Valenton near Paris, BNVCA founder Sammy Ghozlan told JTA. BNVCA also will complain to police of incitement to commit a crime, he added.

“This celebration of a murderer is unacceptable,” Ghozlan said of the dedication in Venton last month of a street honoring Barghouti, a Palestinian man whom an Israeli court in 2004 sentenced to multiple life sentences for planning dozens of deadly terrorist attacks.

During the Sept. 15 inauguration of Marwan Barghouti Alley, Valenton’s mayor, Françoise Baud, called Barghouti “the face of the unwavering resistance of the Palestinian people against the occupation, the crimes, the destruction, the apartheid and the colonization perpetrated by the Israeli government.”

During the same ceremony, Baud, who is a member of the French Communist Party, also inaugurated a square honoring Nelson Mandela, a former president of South Africa and anti-Apartheid activist.

“Referring to both men in the same breath is no distinction for Barghouti, but a diminution of Mandela’s personality,” Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director for international relations, told JTA.

Ghozlan added that in light of the increase in anti-Semitic violence in France because of Israel’s actions, “this is a signal that encourages more attacks on Jews.”

Barghouti was made honorary citizen of Valenton five years ago. The municipality intends to sign a twinning agreement with the Balata refugee camp in the West Bank, Baud said in her speech.

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