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
"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 BoycottFrance.com.
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.