French beauty queen bombarded with anti-Semitic abuse

Although Benayoum’s statement was not political, the admission that her father is Israeli sparked a firestorm on social media.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

When Miss France contestant April Benayoum was asked a question about her background during Sunday’s competition, she had no idea her answer would lead to a barrage of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel abuse.

Benayoum, who was crowned Miss Provence earlier this year, told the judges, “My mother is Serbo-Croat, my father Israeli. This gave me a passion for geography and learning about other cultures.”

The surname Benayoum is common among Maghrebi (North African) Jews, from Morocco and Tunisia.

Although Benayoum’s statement was not political, the admission that her father is Israeli sparked a firestorm on social media.

Users tweeted a stream of anti-Semitic and threatening messages at her, including one tweet that read, “Hitler forgot to exterminate you, Miss Provence.”

Other tweets aimed at Benayoum read “Miss Provence is Israeli. So the one that is voting for her, his mother is a prostitute” and “Don’t vote for Miss Provence. Reason: She is a Jew.”

French Jewish groups and politicians came to Benayoum’s defense.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin wrote that he was “deeply shocked by the rain of anti-Semitic insults” aimed at Benayoum.

“We must not let anything go,” he said. Darmanin added that police were investigating the tweets and that their authors may face legal consequences.

The Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France said the backlash was “vile and unacceptable!”

“All occasions appear to be good for spreading hatred of Jews and Israel,” the group tweeted, alluding to the viciousness of the attacks against Benayoum.

Local politician Clémentine Autain tweeted, “In this matrix of violence, the Jewish people are hated for the sole reason that they are Jewish. My full support for April and all victims of anti-Semitism.”

Amandine Petit, who won the competition and was crowned Miss France on Sunday evening, spoke out in support of Benayoum.

In an interview with broadcaster BFMTV, Petit said the attacks on Benayoum were “extremely disappointing.”

Benayoum, who was the pageant’s runner-up, said she was unfazed by the comments.

“It is sad to witness such behaviour in 2020,” Benayoum told French newspaper Var-Matin. “I obviously condemn these comments, but it does not affect me at all.”