France Mulls Banning Far-right Jewish Group

Jewish Defense League leader denies claims, which emerge after extremist group defends wave of attacks by pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

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Tear gas engulfs protesters during a clash with riot police at Paris' Place de la Republique.Credit: AFP

France is considering a ban on a Jewish far-right group, French media reports.

According to the left-leaning Liberation daily France’s interior ministry is looking into the possibility of banning the Jewish Defense League, or JDL, whose counterparts in the United States and Israel are designated as terrorist groups.

Reuters France and AFP cited anonymous sources who confirmed the Liberation daily’s report.

The reports emerged after Muslim community leaders earlier this week called on authorities to ban the group, which is ideologically close to the American and Israeli branches of the JDL.

Following the reports, a JDL leader dismissed as rumors reports that officials were considering banning his far-right group.

“There are rumors that officials are looking into the possibility of maybe banning LDJ,” Serge Salfati told JTA Thursday, using the French-language acronym of the Ligue de Defense Juive.

Several JDL members have been convicted of violence in France, most recently this month when four of its activists were sent to prison for placing a homemade bomb under the car of an anti-Zionist Jewish journalist, Jonathan Moadab.

The group also has organized defense units around synagogues and Jewish buildings in France amid a wave of attacks by pro-Palestinian demonstrators, who have targeted Jews for Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip.

“While the reports are rumors at this point, there is a chance the government will seek action against LDJ to demonstrate an evenhanded approach to Arabs and Jews,” Salfati said.