Tribute to Jean-Claude Lefort, former president of the AFPS, died at 79

Tribute to Jean-Claude Lefort, former president of the AFPS, died at 79

We learned Thursday afternoon of the death of our former president and friend Jean-Claude Lefort. It is an immense sadness for all the members of the AFPS who knew him and for all his friends in Palestine, a disappearance difficult for all of us to realize.

At 79 years old, we knew Jean-Claude was very ill even if he hardly spoke about it. He died on June 20 from cancer against which he fought his last battle. Our warmest thoughts immediately go to his daughter Elsa Lefort-Hammouri, Salah Hammouri and his grandchildren.

Before becoming president of the AFPS in May 2009, Jean-Claude Lefort was already the type of man who, through his commitments and his political action, participated in writing the history of the labor movement.

He first devoted his life to the struggles led by the French Communist Party of which he was a member for 60 years. After having been a leader of the communist youth, he will be at the time of the Common Program the private secretary of Georges Marchais, member of the Central Committee, then secretary of the large federation of Val-de-Marne (300,000 members at the time) , then deputy for this department, constantly re-elected from 1988 to 2007. During the discussion of the “anti-headscarf” law of 2004, he delivered one of the most beautiful speeches against its adoption.

Becoming a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly for three legislatures, Jean-Claude Lefort participated in numerous international negotiations and traveled the world.

In 1998, it was he who proposed the creation of a “Commission of inquiry into the share of French responsibilities in the genocide in Rwanda”. Vice-president of what was, ultimately, the Parliamentary Study Mission on Rwanda. A man of character, he found himself in disagreement with the final conclusions of the Mission’s report and refused to be a co-author.

It was he again, who in memory of the fight against fascism in Spain, was founding co-president of the Association of Friends of Fighters in Republican Spain (ACER), with José Fort and François Asensi. This allowed it in particular to recover part of the archives of the International Brigades deposited in Moscow on behalf of ACER.

A convinced internationalist activist, Jean-Claude did not let himself be counted on and did not back down easily from adversity, especially when it is embodied in authoritarian or colonialist regimes which flout the right of peoples to self-determination.

It is this strong conviction that will lead him, after passing the baton of his mandate as deputy to Pierre Gosnat, former mayor of Ivry in 2007, to commit himself completely to solidarity action with the Palestinian people. within the AFPS.

Quickly becoming a member of the National Council, he succeeded Bernard Ravenel, to become the second national president of the AFPS in May 2009. Jean-Claude Lefort was convinced that the centrality of the Palestinian question made it the solution and not the problem of situation in the Middle East. He recalled that the parameters of peace are known and that they have a name: the application of international law, nothing but international law, but all international law.

President of the AFPS, Jean-Claude proved to be particularly sensitive to the process of democratic construction of the association and played an essential role in its organization and structuring. He was one of those who strongly insisted that young members take their full place at all levels of the AFPS and be able to highlight their own initiatives.

In activist memories, among many other things, will remain the memory of his investment in several campaigns which had strongly mobilized the activists of the AFPS and still continue today to resonate strongly in the news; that on the recognition of the State of Palestine and that on support for Palestinian political prisoners. Without forgetting his commitment to the boat to Gaza which earned him a very long ban on entry into Palestine and Israel.

Tirelessly, he was one of the spokespersons with his daughter Elsa for the campaigns for the release of Salah Hammouri, detained several times in Israeli jails and later became Elsa’s husband. It was during these campaigns for the release of Salah that many local AFPS groups got to know Jean-Claude until 2018.

Throughout his life, Jean-Claude was an activist, a communist and a tireless anti-colonialist. He served the Palestinian cause with strength and determination and played an immense role in the development of the Palestine solidarity movement.

We will remember his complete humanity, his intelligence and his smile as well as his often salutary rants…

The Palestinian people have just lost one of their most faithful friends. We will pay tribute to him, as we should, by continuing the essential fight for solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The AFPS National Office, June 21, 2024