France moves to disband radical Jewish group after clashes with pro-Palestinian activists

People holding signs reading "Dissolution of the LDJ! (Jewish Defense League)" during a demonstration in front of the "Resistances" bookstore in Paris to call for the banning in France of the Jewish Defense League (Ligue de Defense Juive) on July 8,
People holding signs reading "Dissolution of the LDJ! (Jewish Defense League)" during a demonstration in front of the "Resistances" bookstore in Paris to call for the banning in France of the Jewish Defense League (Ligue de Defense Juive) on July 8, 2009. The French government is seeking to disband a radical Jewish group involved in recent clashes with pro-Palestinian activists during rallies against the Gaza offensive, a source told AFP Thursday, July 31, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - The French government is seeking to disband a radical Jewish group involved in recent clashes with pro-Palestinian activists during rallies against the Gaza offensive, a source told AFP Thursday.

News of the mooted ban came as France's main Jewish group prepared to stage a pro-Israel gathering in Paris, in response to weeks of protests marred by clashes, arrests and allegations of anti-Semitism.

The presence of fired-up Jewish Defence League (LDJ) activists on the sidelines of recent rallies was seen as one of the reasons they turned violent, with clashes outside a synagogue on July 13 leading to a ban on subsequent pro-Palestinian protests.

"We are carrying out an extremely fine analysis of the law," a source close to the case told AFP, confirming a report by French newspaper Liberation of the move to disband the LDJ.

Last week Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the group's actions were "excessive" and "should be condemned".

The LDJ denies breaking French laws. It takes inspiration however from the far-right Jewish Defense League, labelled a terrorist organisation by the FBI in 2001.

It also uses the emblem of a banned Israeli far-right party, the Kach, a raised fist inside a black Star of David, set against a yellow backing.

French far-left and Muslim leaders have been calling for action against the LDJ, with the French Muslim council branding it "an extremist, racist and violent association." Leaders of France's half-million strong Jewish community have clearly distanced themselves from the LDJ, insisting it has not been asked to defend French synagogues.

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