Miss Provence April Benayoum
(photo credit: AFP/LOIC VENANCE)
A flood of antisemitic
insults, threats, and violent comments were spread on social media over the weekend targeting Miss Provence, April Benayoum, first runner-up in Miss France 2021 pageant, after it was revealed Saturday night during the final competition that she has an Israeli father.
“I have an array of origins: my mother is Serbo-Croat, my father Israeli-Italian. This gave me a passion for geography and the discerning of other cultures,” Benayoum said in response to one of the judge’s questions.
“Hitler forgot to exterminate you, Miss Provence.”
“Uncle Hitler forgot to exterminate you.”
“#MissFrance2021 do not vote for her. The reason: She is Jewish.”
“Miss Provence has a link with Israel. Get rid of her.”
“Miss Provence is Israeli. So the one that is voting for her, his mother is a prostitute.”
Leading French-Jewish groups, the Israeli Embassy in France, and numerous local politicians strongly condemned on Sunday this storm of antisemitic attack against the Miss France contestant.
The Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (Crif), the umbrella organization of France’s Jewish community, called the attacks on Benayoum “vile and unacceptable!”
“All occasions appear to be good for spreading hatred of Jews and Israel,” the group added, demanding that Twitter take responsibility for what had happened.”
The International League Against Racism and Antisemitism (LICRA), demanded that the social media assailants
face legal consequences for turning Twitter “into an antisemitic cesspool” and urged users to report antisemitic tweets.
The Israeli Embassy in France also reacted, condemning “in the strongest possible terms the surge of antisemitic and anti-Zionist hatred on social networks last night,” pledgeding “full support” for Miss.
Local French politicians also expressed anger at the incident, with the country’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin tweeting, “I am deeply shocked by the rain of antisemitic insults against Miss Provence. We must not let anything go. Shame on their authors,” adding that “the police and gendarmerie services are mobilized.”
The Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, described the antisemitic hate speech as “despicable.” He added, “All my support to April, magnificent first runner-up last night.”
The winner of the competition, Normandy’s Amandine Petit, was quick to offer support for her colleague saying on Sunday morning in an interview with French broadcaster BFM TV she was “extremely disappointing.”
The TV channel on which was broadcasted the event, TF1, also condemned on his Twitter account the antisemitic attack Miss Benayoum faced, reaffirming its strong support to the contestant.
Internationally, the reactions were not long in coming also.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin published on his twitter account in French a message of support to her, saying that the attacks against her were disgusting, and that “we cannot stay silent” about them.
In a letter to Miss France Competition Director-General, Sylvie Tellier, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, expressed outrage at the wave of Twitter attacks against April Benayoum, Miss Provence and first runner-up in Miss France 2021.
“There have been critiques of feminist organizations who consider beauty competitions as debasing to women, but this year – the Miss France centenary – will be remembered as a sick exercise in Jew-hatred,” said Samuels.