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Monday, July 25, 2011

Shocking Facts About Anti-Semitism in France

Nadene Goldfoot
History recalls that 6 decades ago France's collaborationist Vichy regime took part in rounding up French Jews and turned them over to the Nazis.  About 110,000 French Jews were murdered by the Germans.  Now they are certainly not moving to stamp out any future anti-Semitism that has started again. 

Charles Krauthammer proclaimed an anti-Semitic renaissance in France.  It was Jean-Marie Le Pen's victory over socialists in the French presidential election that confirmed many people's feelings that anti-Semitism had returned to France. He had come in 2nd, being more popular than the prevailing socialists.    French society has changed.  Pen is a genuine anti-Semite known for his trivialization of the Holocaust and his ethno-centric nationalism and had accused his rival, President Jacques Chirac, of being owned and held hostage by the B'nai B'rith, a Jewish organization.  There is a growing tension between the large Jewish and Muslim communities in France.  The North African youth,  Maghrehin, have felt frustrated in the economic situation.  The month before Le Pen won was a month of attacks on Jewish places of worship and property. 

Since 2000, anti-semitism has been growing in France.  It is home to the 3rd largest Jewish population outside of Israel with 600,000 Jews who have been outspoken in their support of Israel.  Paris is known for its Jewish cultural life and brags that they have more kosher restaurants than any other city outside of Israel.  It is also home to the largest Muslim population in Europe.  It has been seen as the European country with the greatest potential for religious conflict. 

In 2001 there were 320 anti-Semitic incidents which amounted to nearly one every other day.  In January there were 3 violent anti-Semitic attacks including an assault on a synagogue in a Paris suburb of Goussainville.  A gang of thugs hurled rocks and firebombs and smashed the synagogue's windows and damaged the building. In October a Jewish elementary school in Marseilles was attacked by arsonists who burned down part of the school and then left graffiti reading "Death to the Jews."   By December 30, vandals attacked a Jewish school in SE Creteil outside of Paris, Otzar Hatorah, with firebombs.  Two exploded and caused much damage to several classrooms.  E-mail from a Jew in France related that a Jewish sports club in Toulouse was attacked with Molotov cocktails and on the statue of Alfred Dreyfus, in Paris, the words, "dirty Jew" were painted.  In Bondy, 15 men beat up members of a Jewish football team with sticks and metal bars.  A school bus going to Aubervilliers had been attacked 3 times in the last 14 months.  Paris police reported seeing 10-12 anti-Jewish incidents per day in the past 30 days.  Walls in Jewish neighborhoods were defaced with proclamations saying :Jews to the gas chambers and Death to the Jews. A Jewish couple was beaten up by 5 men in Villeurbanne and the woman was pregnant.  A Jewish school in Sarcelles was broken into and vandalized.

Late December also found the French ambassador to England, Daniel Bernard, remark openly some anti-Semitic remarks at a dinner party in London.  This was published in the December 17th  Daily Telegraph.  He had said that current troubles in the world were all because of "that shitty little country Israel....Why should the world be in danger of WWII because of those people?" The reaction of the French government was to defend him, refusing to fire him.  Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior of Israel has labeled France "the worst Western country concerning anti-Semitism" when interviewed with the French daily "Le Monde." 

Israel's government had been very worried that the 600,000 Jews there might be in "great danger."  They said that France was the "worst western country" being so anti-semitic.  All this has sparked more interest in French Jews in making aliya to Israel .  In 2001 some 1,200 emigrated to Israel, 20% less than in 2000.   It's probably very hard for them to remove themselves from what they are familiar with such as the Riviera or Paris.  However, many are joining other Jews from Argentina, Russia and even the USA to be back home again. 

There has been a rise of anti-Semitic incidents in France since the Palestinian intifada began.  In Orly airport ouside Paris, Palestinian and Israeli demonstrations turned violent with fistfights.  Signs could be read saying "Killer Sharon" and "Killer Arafat,".  Recent days had witnessed a string of anti-Jewish attacks, blamed on Arabs who immigrated to France.  Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin asked for calm.  On Saturday morning masked assailants smashed stolen cars into a synagogue in Lyon, then set them on fire.  One to five young men stormed the building.  The synagogue was destroyed.  Another synagogue in Marseille was burned to the ground over the weekend.  Last October the same synagogue was damaged by assailants hurling a Molotov cocktail at it.  The Police had completed a patrol being part of tighter security around Jewish sites in France.  The assailants also tried to burn down a pavilion at the Jewish cemetery in Strasbourg and fired at a Jewish butcher shop near Toulouse over the weekend.  This had shades of the 1938 German Kristallnacht to the Jewish leaders.   Chirac showed up at a synagogue to show his support to the Jews.

The 2009 annual report from the Jewish Community Protection Service showed that anti-Semitism was still rising sharply. 832 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded compared with 474 in 2008:  a 75% increase.  They surmise it reflects the French populations' anger at Israel during Operation Cast Lead in January when after 6 years of being shelled, Israel finally retaliated.  354 incidents were recorded in January 2009 alone.  In 2007 the incidents amounted to 386, lower than in previous years.  Even before Cast Lead, the 2008 figures had risen 22% than the previous year.  As of 2003 there were about 5 to 6 million Muslims living in France but by 2007 there were 8 million.  In 2008 there were 490,000 Jews living in France.  They were outnumbered. 

Dominique Gaston Andre Strauss-Kahn  is not helping the Jewish reputation by his being arrested for his sexual antics in New York in May 2011.  This French economist, lawyer and politician is a member of the French Socialist Party and is Director of the International Monetary Fund.  In 2007 he ran for president but lost.  The mention of his name is usually followed by "Jew." As it turns out, the maid involved has been found to lie a lot.  Charges may be dropped. 

Not surpisingly, it's reported that the #1 bestselling book in France is "11 Septembre 2001:  l'Effroyable Imposture" or "September 11th:  the Frightening Fraud" that was printed in 2002 -saying that no plane ever hit the Pentagon! 

 Anti-Semitism in France by Jean-Marc Dreyfus, Institut d'Etudes Politiques, Paris and Jonathan Laurence, Center for European Studies, Harvard University
E-mail from a Jew in France

1 comment:

Nadene Goldfoot said...

Le Pen, born in 1928, ran 5 times for President is 1974, 88, 95, 2002 and 2007. He came in 2nd in 2002, at the height of anti-semitism. My statement, "It was Jean-Marie Le Pen's victory over socialists in the French presidential election that confirmed many people's feelings that anti-Semitism had returned to France" did not say that he won the election but that he had a victory over the socialist party. He had been the founder and head of the Front National Party or FN in 1972 on, so was not with the popular socialists. .

Michael Melchior, Deputy of Foreign Affairs of Israel. He was born in 1954 in Denmark, became a Rabbi and was Chief Rabbi of Norway from 1980 on. Then he became the Deputy of Foreign Affairs after making aliya to Israel and held this title from 2001-2002, again, a time of more extreme anti-semitism.