French Imam Agrees: Anti-Zionism is Antisemitism

Rue nicolas appert  paris 8 january 2015 025
Photo Credit: Flickr - Highwire 75 / Imam Chalghoumi has worked hard to promote Jewish-Muslim dialogue in France and abroad.

On a recent trip to Israel, Hassen Chalghoumi, the imam of a mosque in Drancy on the outskirts of Paris, agreed that anti-Zionism constitutes antisemitism.

Imam Chalghoumi, a strident activist for equal rights, peace, and the establishing of dialogue between religious communities, spoke to the Jerusalem Post and Israeli President Rivlin this week regarding antisemitism, anti-Zionism, and their overlap in discussions around Israel.  Acknowledging the link between antisemitism and anti-Zionism is extremely important when so many antisemitic attacks are hidden behind a veil of opposition to the Jewish state.

Currently leading a group of French and Belgian Muslims through Jerusalem on a trip hosted by an NGO, Chalgoumi is hard at work promoting Jewish-Muslim dialogue both at home and abroad by exposing Europeans to Israel's reality instead of the BDS sponsored anti-Zionist narrative. He criticized the core tenet of anti-Zionism, saying “what characterizes anti-Zionism is hatred. If we were simply talking about criticism of the State of Israel, we wouldn’t see the hatred and talk of the need to wipe out and destroy Israel.” Although imam Chalghoumi at first thought he would feel unwelcome, he expressed his gratitude for being hosted warmly, especially during his visit to the Western Wall.

Imam Chalghoumi is known in France for his founding of the “Conference of Imams,” a group outlining Muslim law for French Muslims. He is also known for taking strong stances against the Arab Spring and increasing Islamist extremism, especially in the French political sphere. He has been working in human rights activism for years, collaborating with the CRIF (an umbrella organization of Jewish French organizations), and even receiving the “Brotherhood” award (“le prix de la Fraternité”) from the French Senate for his continuous and steadfast work towards peace and reconciliation.

Today, Chalghoumi spends most of his time leading efforts to improve interfaith dialogue between communities and calling attention to antisemitism around France. This is especially pressing at a time when antisemitic incidents in France rose by 74% in 2018. France has been the site of some of the most notorious instances of the past year, notably the murder of a holocaust survivor and innumerable desecrations of Jewish cemeteries around the country.

Thankfully Imam Chalghoumi's activism will continue to support bridge-building efforts between religious groups and help the Jewish communities both in France and abroad.