Avigdor Lieberman

‘Israel, stop stoking anti-semitism’

Israel’s controversial defence minister has been accused of stoking antisemitism following his claim that Jews should leave France if they want to practise their religion.

Leaders of France’s Jewish community fear that Avigdor Lieberman’s outburst will inflame religious tensions.

Mr Lieberman, 58, head of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, told Jews that France was an inhospitable land where they would be forced to abandon their religion.

His comments provoked a furious reaction from Jews in France, who fear a rise in far-right antisemitism as a result.

He was speaking after Paris announced plans to stage a Middle East peace conference next month. The plan is opposed by Israel’s government, which says it prefers direct negotiations with Palestinian leaders, but Mr Lieberman expressed his hostility in particularly virulent terms.

He said the conference would put Israel in the dock and compared it to the 1894 trial of Alfred Dreyfus, a French Jewish artillery officer convicted on trumped-up spying charges against a backdrop of antisemitism.

Read the full article by Adam Sage and Gregg Carlstrom at The Australian.