Ersilila Soudais is a member of the French Parliament who belongs to Jean-Luc Melenchon’s far left party, La France Insoumise. She, like her party, is virulently anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. On April 18 in Paris, there was a fracas at a meeting staged by a group of Palestinian NGOs that featured a convicted Palestinian terrorist and PFLP member, Salah Hamouri, between the sponsors of the meeting, and members of the French Union of Jewish Students (UEJF) who had come to protest. The Jewish students were set upon by violent pro-Palestinian members of the audience, intent on intimidating the Jews into silence, and quickly removing them from the room. Among those who were attacked was the Union of Jewish Students president, Samuel Lejoyeux. More on this violence visited upon the Jewish students can be found here: “French Jewish Students Face Off in Legal Battle With Far Left MP Following Clashes at Paris Meeting,” by Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, April 21, 2023:
Salah Amouri — a lawyer for Adameer, a Palestinian prisoner organization — was sentenced in 2005 for a plot to assassinate Israel’s then Sephardic chief rabbi, Ovadia Yosef, serving six years in jail before being placed by the Israeli authorities in administrative detention until 2022.
The convicted terrorist Salah Amouri was allowed by Israeli authorities to study for a law degree while in prison. That explains how, after serving a very mild sentence of six years for his part in a plot to murder Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi, he was able to go to work as a lawyer for Adameer, an NGO that agitates for better treatment of Palestinian prisoners. Such agitation is quite unnecessary. Israeli prisons are, in fact, far milder than any others in the West, save possibly for those in the Scandinavian lands.
When the UEJF activists confronted Ersilia Soudais [as she left by the back entrance] — a member of parliament for the far left La France Insoumise (“France Rising” — LFI) party — she accused them of violent behavior and filed a legal complaint. In response, the UEJF filed a legal complaint against Soudais for defamation on April 20.
There was no “violent behavior” by the UEJF students who had come not to shout down the meeting, nor to attack its pro-Palestinian participants, but simply to engage in a discussion, to refute such canards as “Israel is an apartheid state.” Instead of such discussion, they were met with violence inside the room where the meeting was to be held by the pro-Palestinians. Ersilia Soudais was there; she knows perfectly well who was doing the attacking, and who was on the receiving end of the violence. And the videos of that violence do not lie.
She is now suing the Union of Jewish Students for their “violent behavior,” but as the videos show, all the violence came not from the Jewish students, but from the pro-Palestinian students who used force to silence them, and to remove them from the room. At that point, the Jewish students left the meeting, and stood outside the building to wait for Ersilia Soudais to exit, in the hope of engaging her in a discussion that she had refused to have with them at the meeting itself. As the meeting broke up, they realized she was going to exit by the back entrance, so they went around the building to await her, in the hope of having a discussion about the propriety of honoring a convicted terrorist, and to answer Soudais’ oft-stated charge about Israel being “an apartheid state.”
In an interview with her party’s website, Soudais claimed that security staff at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, where the meeting took place, were attempting to remove the UEJF activists just as she arrived at the venue with her husband. She said that one activist had approached her with a raised fist, shouting “your ideas are disgusting,” before her husband stepped in to prevent an escalation. Once the meeting ended, she continued, she left the building through a back entrance where Lejoyeux and other UEJF members were waiting. The group tried to engage her in discussion, she said, but she refused, telling them “I don’t debate with people who assault me.”
So Soudais admits that even before the meeting started, the pro-Palestinians who were sponsoring the talk by a convicted terrorist had demanded that the security staff remove the UEJF activists before they had uttered a syllable of protest. And the pro-Palestinians did not wait for their removal by others; they immediately began attacking the Jewish students. This meeting, we should note, was held in a public space – a room at the Ecoles des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales – and should, therefore, have been open to the public.
Let’s go over that supposedly “violent” encounter outside the back entrance to the building, between Soudais and the Jewish students who were waiting to talk to her there, since they had been silenced by force inside the meeting room. They didn’t scream that she was the progeny of “apes and pigs,” they didn’t use obscenities of any kind, as the pro-Palestinians routinely shout at Jews, they didn’t make a move to detain her or tor to hold her down as had just been done to Jewish students at the meeting. She refused to talk to them, saying that “I don’t debate with people who assault me.” But in fact, no one had assaulted her, either inside the building or when she exited by the back entrance. The worst she suffered was someone shouting “your ideas are disgusting.” An eagerness to discuss and argue, as civilized people will do, is not an assault.
Soudais has now sued the UEJF for “violent behavior” toward her.
In turn, the UEJF responded that it was they who had been victims of violent conduct, posting three videos to Twitter that showed members of the audience – supporters of the PFLP terrorist Salah Hamouri — engaging in physical abuse just as soon as the Jewish students entered the room, shoving some UEJF members, and pushing others to the floor.
One video showed Lejoyeux being violently pushed by another attendee. A second showed a UEJF activist lying on the ground following a scuffle. Others show Jewish students being dragged along the ground toward the exit. A statement from the UEJF noted that the activists had protested Hamouri’s affiliation with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a hardline terrorist group, asserting: “We were victims of violence and prevented from expressing ourselves.”
Soudais is no stranger to disputes with the French Jewish community. In February, she was appointed as a vice-president of the French parliament’s study group on antisemitism, sparking concern among Jewish groups over the anti-Zionist stance of NUPES, the coalition of which LFI is a part, which has included tabling a parliamentary resolution in July last year denouncing Israel for its alleged “apartheid regime.” A few days after that announcement, Soudais caused outrage when she tweeted about her meeting with three Palestinian solidarity activists to discuss “the fight against antisemitism and solidarity with the Palestinian people.” The tweet ended with the hash tag “Free Palestine.”
Now the Union of French Jewish Students is suing Ersilia Soudais for defamation, for she has falsely accused the group of “violent behavior” toward her and others at the meeting. The videos will show who was attacking whom. They do not lie. And if justice is done, the egregious Ersilia Soudais will come to regret her suit against the UEJF.