French pro-Palestine protestors accused of "apology for terrorism"

Crackdowns on free speech and the expression of solidarity with Palestinians aren't just limited to American Universities. As it turns out, the French government has a similar enthusiasm for throwing the book at critics and peaceful protestors with strong convictions.

Many students, politicians and critics of France's involvement with Israel have faced charges of being complicit in  "apology for terrorism", a legal recourse that seems at once nebulously defined and conveniently pointed.

France Insoumise has sought to position itself as the political outlet for French people disgusted with their government's support for the Israeli state and its refusal to bring pressure to bear on Netanyahu. In that regard, the possible targeting of two of its spokespeople is an extension of the French justice system's growing recourse to "apology for terrorism" charges against critics of Israel, which have surged since October in response to the outpouring of protest provoked by the siege and invasion of Gaza.
In an October 10 policy circular issued to state prosecutors, justice minister Éric Dupond-Moretti called for a "rapid and firm penal response" against "public statements that praise the aforementioned attacks, presenting them as a legitimate resistance to Israel, or the public dissemination of messages inciting favorable judgement of Hamas or Islamic Jihad." 


Comedians, leftist politicians, union leaders, and youth en masse have voiced their disillusionment with the French government's complicity in the atrocities in Gaza. On university campuses, it's led to administration tipping off state authorities about the activities of its vocal student body.

In practice, the pretense of academic neutrality is foreclosing discussion and inquiry into the deep causes of the October 7 Hamas-led attack and the colonial nature of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Beyond the school's foot-dragging in coming out in opposition to the war, members of the EHESS community decry an implicit bias in the school's presentation of the conflict in the leadership's internally distributed statements, and in a series of public forums hosted this winter.

[…]In tipping off state authorities, EHESS leadership is applying a line directed by the central government. On October 9, higher education and research minister Sylvie Retailleau issued a public letter calling for school administrators to apply "disciplinary sanctions" and "appropriate legal steps," including notifying state prosecutors, for any possible infractions among their school communities. Contacted via email, the EHESS administration did not provide any specific response to Jacobin's questions on the potential pursuits against those students — as well as the broader accusations leveled by the school's Palestine solidarity movement about a university bias, or about promises made in meetings between students and directors this spring that the school would come out in favor of a cease-fire.

"Accusations for apology for terrorism are being leveled against people who express their solidarity with Palestine, but the declarations we've made are in complete accordance with international law," said one student, among the six who had to respond to police summons in February. "What we're really making the apology for is international law! We're not supported by the school and it speaks volumes about the climate here."


Previously: Ireland, Norway and Spain recognize Palestinian state