Jewish group cancels study tours to France

NEW YORK -- Dissatisfied with the French government's response to a series of violent anti-Semitic incidents in France this spring, the American Jewish Congress announced in a June 17 advertisement in the New York Times that it had canceled its educational tour programs to the country indefinitely.

Denying the 50,000-strong AJC was calling for a formal boycott of France by Jewish-American travelers, executive director Neil Goldstein said the New York-based organization received complaints from some members regarding its study tours to the country.

"The general feeling is that it's inappropriate to promote travel to France until the French government does more to address anti-Semitism," he said. "We're responding to our marketplace and our consumers, who happen to be our members."

The AJC sends several hundred Jewish-Americans on trips to France each year, according to a spokesman.

A spokesman for the French Consulate in New York expressed surprise and called the AJC's depiction of France "unfair," noting French diplomats met with the Jewish group earlier in the month and presented evidence of a strict crackdown on anti-Semitic provocations.

"And there's a contradiction in the AJC's position," the French consulate spokesman said, noting that the group's Southwest Pacific chapter based in Los Angeles maintains a Web site called

Goldstein stressed that the L.A. chapter Web page -- despite its domain name -- clearly states the AJC has not called for a formal boycott.

Monday's newspaper ad echoes a similar one, published by the AJC on May 8 in the entertainment trade paper, Variety, that called on American Jews either to avoid last month's renowned Cannes film festival on the French Riviera, or to attend and force public discussion of anti-Semitism in France.

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