Globe Briefs February 17

Globe Briefs February 17

Marine Le Pen: No more dual nationalities for Israelis

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front party, said she favored making it illegal to be a dual citizen of France and other countries outside Europe — including Israel and the United States.

Le Pen, who according to some polls is the leading candidate in France’s presidential elections in May, spoke about dual French-Israeli nationality in replying to a question Thursday during a two-hour interview on the France 2 television channel.

Nearly an hour into the interview, the French-Lebanese journalist Lea Salame asked Le Pen to “clarify” certain aspects of her plan to outlaw dual nationality in France for French citizens who are also nationals of non-European countries.

Asked whether this applied to Russia, which is in Europe but is not a member of the European Union, Le Pen said: “You know very well I want a Europe of nations and Russia belongs to it.”

Le Pen then was asked whether her plan was to make it impossible for Moroccans and Americans to have dual passports, while allowing it for Russians.

“Yes, that’s what it’s like in Germany,” Le Pen responded.

“Does your Europe extend to Israel, and let me clarify: Will you demand that French Jews renounce their Israeli dual citizenship?” Salame asked, to which Le Pen replied: “Israel is not a European country and I see that Israel itself accepts this assertion and opinion. So I’m against dual nationality outside Europe.”

Since its establishment by Jean-Marie Le Pen, Le Pen’s father and the owner of multiple convictions for Holocaust denial and incitement to hatred against Jews, National Front has been accused of espousing anti-Semitism, hatred of Muslims and other forms of xenophobia.

Under Marine Le Pen, the party has softened its image, including by kicking out anti-Semitic members like Jean-Marie Le Pen, who was excluded from the party in 2015. Marine Le Pen has wooed Jewish voters, promising to be their “shield” against radical Islam. In this framework, she said French Jews should be banned from wearing kippahs in some public spheres to preserve equality and facilitate further bans on wearing Muslim religious clothing. She asked French Jews to make this “sacrifice.”

Repeating her question, Salame during the France 2 interview asked Le Pen: “So you would ask French Jews who have dual nationality with Israel to renounce their Israeli nationality?” To which Le Pen replied: “Excuse me, them and others. They can remain Israeli. I’m asking them to choose their nationality.”

Many countries, including the Netherlands and other EU member states, have laws forbidding their citizens from assuming a second citizenship or requiring them to relinquish any foreign nationality.

Le Pen added that even “if they renounce their French passports, they don’t need to leave France, which is perfectly capable of welcoming them on its soil, or at least those of them, and this applies to everyone, who respect France’s laws, values, because we are seeing this is a problem when it comes to immigration with people … and this is not a problem with Israel necessarily, that’s for sure.”

McGill University student leader urges Twitter users to ‘punch a Zionist today’

A student union leader at McGill University urged people on Twitter to “punch a Zionist today.”

Igor Sadikov, a member of the legislative council, posted the tweet Monday, prompting calls for the third-year political science major to resign from his elected post.

“This is clear incitement to violence, which should not be tolerated on the part of any student, let alone a student politician,” Amanda Hohmann of B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights said in a prepared statement.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs also condemned the post, which was later deleted.

Sadikov, who is also active in the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, denied he is anti-Semitic, noting that his father is Jewish and his mother is half-Jewish.

“This tweet was not an attack against Jewish students, but on the adherents of a political philosophy,” he told The National Post.

Some said the tweet only added to what they see as a toxic atmosphere on campus for pro-Israel students, who say they have faced harassment after a pro-BDS motion failed to be ratified last year.

In Britain and France, government officials last year said the term “Zio” and “Zionist” were used on campuses as substitute for “Jew” in anti-Semitic hate speech.

Israel immigration authority apologizes for questioning of New Israel Fund leader

The agency that manages Israel’s border crossings apologized for any “anguish” caused by the questioning of the leader of the New Israel Fund at Ben Gurion Airport.

The Population and Immigration Authority said Thursday that its interim director general, Amnon Shmueli, had spoken to the New Israel Fund’s president after the group’s vice president, Jennifer Gorovitz, was detained for questioning upon arrival in Israel last week, Haaretz reported.

“Shmueli made it clear that the questioning of Gorovitz was routine and that there was no intent to insult her. The director general apologized if she was caused any anguish,” the authority said.

Gorovitz reportedly was held for 90 minutes, prompting an opposition lawmaker to declare that she was being subjected to “political persecution.” NIF is an American-based nonprofit organization dedicated to social justice and equality that funds a number of organizations that have been highly critical of Israel.

The questioning of Gorovitz prompted Knesset member Tamar Zandberg of the left-wing Meretz party to complain to Interior Minister Aryeh Deri.

“This is political persecution, harassment and an attempt to silence those who fight for Israeli society,” Zandberg wrote in a letter to Deri.