Violence among Paris anti-Israel protesters clearly anti-Semitic

There has been a lot of news in recent days about Parisian pro-Palestinian demonstrations against Israel's ground incursion into Gaza, which had turned violent against French Jews. On Sunday, the situation took another turn for the worse.

The hashtag #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies is now circulating on Twitter, with users sharing pictures of interfaith couples and people of both religions joining together in a message of hope. Credit: YouTube screenshot.

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters turned up in "Little Jerusalem," the Jewish neighborhood in the Parisian suburb of Sarcelles, where they threw a Molotov cocktail at a Jewish religious institution, set fire to a Jewish pharmacy and mini-market, burned vehicles, and destroyed other property, Haaretz reported.

These violent hostilities took place after the French government had decided to ban some planned pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the wake of last week's violent attacks on Jews during similar rallies in and around Paris. A group of the rioters had tried to break into the Don Isaac Abravanel synagogue in eastern Paris wielding chairs and bats on July 13. Another synagogue on Rue de la Roquette in Paris was attacked by rioters hurling stones days earlier. Some of the rioters chanted "Death to Jews" and "Hitler was right."

Whether or not demonstrations against Israel, or criticism of Israeli policies in general, constitutes anti-Semitism is not a new debate. But consider this question:

As Hamas continues barraging Israel with hundreds of rockets from Gaza, how many Jews around the world go out in mass shouting "Death to Muslims?" How many throw Molotov cocktails at mosques and loot Muslim shops?

Of course, there are always some extremists among any group of people, including among Jews, but a simple Google search will make the picture abundantly clear.

"When you head for the synagogue, when you burn a corner shop because it is Jewish-owned, you are committing an anti-Semitic act," Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters outside the Sarcelles synagogue, reported Business Insider. 

Suffice to say that when the fight gets down to such a level, it stops being a fight about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and becomes simply about hate.

In the meantime, here's a small glimmer of hope: The hashtag #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies is now circulating on Twitter, with users sharing pictures of interfaith couples as well as other Jews and Muslims joining together in a message of hope. 

"Refuse to speak the language of hatred. If hatred prevails the world is a lost place," one tweet states.

Posted on July 21, 2014 .