The French Jewish community has intensely debated the role of "Le Monde" in the rise of anti-Semitism against Israel and the recent attack against the Jewish Community of Oporto by a leading reporter at the request of some friends from Portugal involved in a case of Soviet anti-Semitism against the only Community strong in the country.
The case gains more and more relevance this March after the Portuguese Soviets used the news from "Le Monde" in Portugal as if it were something objective and loaded with new discoveries (after all, it was made to order) to once again attack the Community. It should be recalled that the Jewish Community of Oporto celebrated "The Day of Shame" on March 11 with the lighting of a Menorah and the release of a video entitled Soviet Style Antisemitism in Portugal.
The Jewish Community of Oporto also wrote to the President of Portugal saying that he should issue an apology for all the damage caused by a Soviet program based on anonymous denunciations and other wrongdoing by unscrupulous people.
But what happened to "Le Monde"?
This was the community's right of reply spread in the French Jewish media reproduced here on the PJN on February 28, 2023:
Raphaëlle Rérolle, grand reporter of Le Monde, in Paris, has just published a piece entitled "How a Portuguese citizenship loophole became a door into the EU", giving voice to people who took part in a Soviet antisemitic campaign but not hearing the opinion of the Jewish community of Oporto, which was the major victim of that highly biased report.
The objective of the piece was to vilify the only strong Jewish community of Portugal and the 2013/2015 legislation that allowed Jews of Sephardic origin to acquire Portuguese nationality. In Rérolle’s words, it was reduced to business dealings of unscrupulous people who are now having to face justice.
Those interviewed and the arguments used in the piece were extras in a case of Soviet antisemitism in Portugal which has already been denounced by the Jewish community of Oporto to the international instances and in the books: “The First Major Antisemitic Conspiracy of the 21st Century" and "Two Millenia of the Jewish Community of Oporto".
Young sports journalists or those who gave voice to anonymous sources convicted in criminal courts for acts of discrimination and defamation were described in Le Monde as “investigative journalists”; influencers, who in the past insulted international Jewish organisation or whose only résumé is base calumny were highly regarded in the piece. Even a politician who had compared the Jews to the Coronavirus appeared as a hero and victim.
Significantly, there was no mention at all of the former foreign minister, Augusto Santos Silva, the man who because of a “Palestine cause” demanded the end of that legislation, or of the former minister of Justice Francisca Van Dunem, the woman who attached anonymous denunciations from the scum of society, appointed the leaders of the authorities who investigated the case, destroyed the nationality law with a murderous regulation and fired the director of SIRESP a few days after the latter had been robbed. (We will touch on these robberies below.)
Regarding the legislation that the Le Monde journalist wished to ridicule, as she was asked, her focus was on 2013, on the former president of the Socialist Party and a nephew of hers, who was a member of the Jewish community of Oporto. The journalist failed to mention that the wording and its preamble of this law were written by members of the Lisbon Jewish community.
It was not revealed that the fact that the Jewish communities were added to the certification process occurred due to the 2015 regulation of the Social Democratic Party, that the Jewish community of Oporto suggested the creation of an international commission (Opinion of 05-11-2013, as per pp. 253 et seq. of the book on https://oportojewishheritage.com/) and that the Jewish community of Lisbon was the only one in personal contact at the time with the then justice minister.
Attempts were made to link the Jewish community of Oporto to legal business dealings and interests surrounding the nationality law, which is false. It was not revealed that a leader of the Jewish community of Lisbon at the time certified applicants, signed certificates and was a lawyer in nationality processes.
The Lisbon community was presented as an example of honesty, because its certification team relied on non-Jews and because it certified the Sephardism not only of Jews, but also of Muslims, Buddhists and Christians, and so on. At no point was it ever said that if this had been the legislators’ intention, the State would have had no need of the Jewish communities for the certification process.
The Jewish community of Oporto was accused of only certifying Jews on a religious basis, when the fact is that being Jewish is not practicing a religion, but a tradition-based matrilinear genealogy. Similarly, migration to Israel or the acceptance of people in synagogues and the traditional Jewish world depends on that condition, which requires the collaboration of rabbinates recognised by the Grand Rabbinate of Israel.
Comparisons were, shockingly, made regarding the number of people certified by the Oporto and Lisbon communities, as if certifications by a rabbinate can be compared with the certification of Christians or Hindus claiming an alleged Jewish origin dating back 20 generations, presenting as evidence many generations of easily forged pieces of paper and genealogies.
To show how the Jewish community of Oporto grew tremendously rich with the nationality law, it was described as being “very poor in 2015”, as if a very poor religious organisation could have, as it then did, the largest synagogue in Sepharad, impeccably restored and functional, a kosher hotel, a kosher restaurant, a tourist department serving thousands of visitors every month, as well as a team comprising a rabbi, assistant, museologist, security staff, accountant, and office staff, etc.
As regards the “increased wealth” of the Jewish community of Oporto after 2015, with fees of 250 euros, no mention was made of the construction of the Oporto Holocaust Museum, the Oporto Jewish Museum, the Oporto Jewish cinema, the production of feature films on the history of the Jews in Portugal, the film that received the most international awards ever in Portugal, the kosher restaurants, the achdut centres, the Jewish Cemetery of Oporto, a network of solidarity created in 14 countries and the major constructions carried out with the support of the Community, such as the largest Chabad Centre of Europe and schools, cemeteries and mikvaot centres in Israel and in other countries.
Lastly, the article employed against the Jewish community of Oporto the magic word Russia. Deliberately, it concealed that between 2015 and 2022 the Jewish community of Lisbon certified more Russian Jews (such as Alexander Kopylkov) than did the Oporto community, concealed also that in Russia (as in all Eastern Europe) there are thousands of Ashkenazi Jews of Sephardic origin, and charged the Oporto community of having certified a Russian millionaire who had paid for a museum for the community when, like all other applicants, he merely paid the fee of 250 euros and no more.
Similarly concealed were all legal elements that enabled that certification, and the name of Vladimir Putin soon popped up, which is ludicrous in this case of Soviet antisemitism in Portugal which employed KGB methods, not forgetting the press, a journalist from Le Monde, a journalist from Reuters and half a dozen Portuguese journalists who joined together to raise a huge fuss.
The fact that the Court of Appeal said that the police operation in March was “based on nothing”, means little to Rérolle. That is no cause for scandal, not for her or for any of the Soviet antisemites who commissioned the pieces. She does not care that a synagogue was invaded based on nothing; that an Ehal was searched by police based on nothing; that in the house of the granddaughter of the Portuguese Dreyfus searches were made for alleged suitcases filled with cash, that young and old Jewish members of the Community were humiliated for months in Portugal.
However, the highlight of the Soviets was a community leader whose civilian name is David, who was treated in the item by his company name. A Jew married in the light of Halacha and with Jewish children, he was described as descended from a Christian writer who never had children and was falsely accused of having been prevented from leaving the country and from speaking to the rabbi, when in fact he was never subject to any restrictive measure following the unlikely anonymous denunciations produced by convicted people at the request of agents of the Portuguese State.
While the Soviet antisemites pursue their efforts, visitors to the Jewish Museum of Oporto are able to read the following messages:
How a Law of Return became an antisemitic campaign against significant jewish realities in Portugal and the strongest community:
1. Use of mentally ill and convicted people to make anonymous and slanderous denunciations against the Jewish Community of Oporto – Cases 10444/16.0T9PRT, 1557/08.3PPPRT and 843/17.6JAPRT.
2. Use of nighttime robbers to steal the server from the office of a Community lawyer – Case 35/22.2PJPRT.
3. Use of robbers to break into the home of a lawyer who was wrongly associated with the Community – Case 1047/22.1PIPRT.
4. Use of professional robbers to steal the two computers of the President of SIRESP and attempt to incriminate a Sephardic Jew – Case 00/022LSB
5. Use of journalists who months on end created an atmosphere of great suspicion around the Community - Case 1903/22.7T9LSB
6. Use of Lisbon police to invade the Oporto synagogue and arrest the Chief Rabbi based on nothing – Case 183/22.9T9LSB
7. Use of anonymous socialist sources to hunt out a philanthropist of the Jewish Community of Oporto – Case 1536/22.8KRPRT
8. Use of corruption to damage the company belonging to a Sephardic Jew who employs many people – Case 24/22.7TPEUR
9. Use of false police notifications to terrify a Community leader, linking her to child pornography – Case 80549/2023PRT.
10. Use of murderers against a young man who was the first signatory of a petition addressed to the State asking it not to persecute the Community – Case 2042/22.6PIPRT."
The basis for Soviet-style antisemitism was primarily the use of criminals, the press and the police to defame the most important Jewish communities and to associate them with immoral businesses.
The Jewish Community of Oporto was slandered throughout the world, in 200 countries, and will never regain its good name. Its partners fled in terror, its children cried, its older members were humiliated. No one has ever apologised to the Community.
“How painful the sense of isolation, difference, and vulnerability can be for Jewish communities around the world”- Isaac Herzog, President of Israel, Nov 27, 2022, letter to the Oporto Jewish Community (https://oportojewishheritage.com, page 289 of the book).