Former French PM slammed for antisemitic comments made on TV

Dominique de Villepin — who served as France’s prime minister from 2005-2007 implied that actors lost their roles because they supported Palestine and that the Jewish ‘financial domination over the media weighs heavily.’

By Ben Cohen, The Algemiener

The head of the French Jewish community castigated a former prime minister on Monday for comments made during a recent television interview in which he suggested that Jewish financial clout in the United States muzzles dissenting voices in culture and the media.

Dominique de Villepin — who served as France’s prime minister from 2005-2007 and was previously both interior minister and foreign minister — expressed “insidiously antisemitic rhetoric unconsciously designating Jews as the party of international finance and puppeteers of media and artists,” Yonathan Arfi, the head of the French Jewish communal organization Crif, declared in a post on X/Twitter.

Interviewed last Thursday by broadcaster TF1 on the ongoing war between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza, de Villepin was asked to comment on the backlash faced by actors Susan Sarandon and Melissa Barrera following their pro-Palestinian outbursts in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre in southern Israel, in which more than 1,200 people were murdered and over 200 kidnapped. Sarandon was booted from the United Talent Agency, which previously represented her, after claiming that American Jews fearful of rising antisemitism triggered by the conflict were “getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Muslim in this country,” while Barrera lost her role in the “Scream” series of movies for stating in an Instagram post that Israel was guilty of “genocide and ethnic cleansing.”

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While de Villepin did not mention the word “Jew” in his answer, the thrust of his remarks chimed with long-established conspiracy theories about Jewish financial power.

“We can see in the background how heavily financial domination over the media and the worlds of art and music weigh,” de Villepin said. “They cannot say what they think because the contracts stop immediately. The financial rule that is imposed on the United States in cultural life weighs heavily. Unfortunately, we also see it in France.”

In response, Arfi charged de Villepin with trafficking in “conspiracy rhetoric,” “salon antisemitism,” and “passionate anti-Americanism.”

French politicians also condemned de Villepin. Eric Ciotti, the leader of the Les Republicains (LR) Party, remarked that the former premier’s words “remind us of dark times,” while Meyer Habib, a vocal Jewish parliamentarian, asserted that de Villepin’s “pathological hatred of Israel” had morphed into antisemitism.

In a separate interview on Monday, former French President Francois Hollande said that he had known de Villepin “for a long time” and didn’t “want to believe that he had that intention” when asked whether his comments were antisemitic. However, Hollande also warned of the need to “be careful with this idea that there would be a kind of oligarchy that would be infiltrated, structured with the Jews. Faced with this threat, this reality, of antisemitism, we must be very careful,” he told broadcaster Franceinfo.