Reposted with thanks to Times of israel 

Although the burkini affair was definitely put to rest by France’s highest administrative court, it left many Americans wondering about the level of islamophobia in France. Understandably, the media coverage relied heavily on the voices of influential French Muslim activists who have been at the forefront of the fight against islamophobia. The message of these activists has been especially damaging to the French government, whom they accused of being the main driver of racism against Muslims.

What got lost in translation is what makes French government officials, and indeed many French citizens, so uneasy about these activists and their message: hatred. Although they present themselves as human rights activists, and often refer to the American civil rights movement as a model for their struggle, they are not your typical humanitarians. In fact, the most prominent of them use hate speech against Jews or LGBT on a regular basis, a fact that somehow did not make it to the many articles that quoted them in the burkini affair.

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Noam Ohana is a current member of the NY 16 Class in the Wexner Heritage Program. By day he is a New York-based French-Israeli financier and in his spare time he is the founder and President of Tsarfat, the voice of French Jews in the US. His articles on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and on anti-Semitism have appeared in leading publications (including Le Monde, the Huffington Post, Liberation, Slate, The Daily Beast). Mr. Ohana is a graduate of Sciences Po and Stanford University and served in the Israeli special forces during the Second Intifada. Noam can be reached at