French Jews face surge in hatred

There is "underlying violent and raging antisemitic sentiment" through the republic, CRIF official tells JNS • "Antisemitism has no place in France," says a source close to Marine Le Pen.

The "Mr. Shnitz" kosher restaurant targeted with antisemitic graffiti in Levallois-Perret, France, on Aug. 19, 2023. Source: X.
The "Mr. Shnitz" kosher restaurant targeted with antisemitic graffiti in Levallois-Perret, France, on Aug. 19, 2023. Source: X.

“The number of antisemitic acts [in France] has exploded,” French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said last week.

More than 1,000 incidents were recorded and some 500 related arrests were made in France since Hamas’s massacre of 1,400 people in Israel on Oct. 7.

Darmanin, at a session of the French National Assembly, reiterated his commitment to canceling the residency status and visas of foreigners who perpetrate antisemitic crimes. He noted that a foreign national was deported for shouting, “Death to the Jews! Death to Israel!”

Serge Dahan, vice president of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF), confirmed to JNS the alarming rise of Jew-hatred.

“We feel a red line was crossed since Oct. 7. What used to be isolated events is now a general feeling of insecurity due to an underlying violent and raging antisemitic sentiment. It’s all over France,” said Dahan.

He nevertheless welcomed the government’s mobilization of 10,000 police to protect some 950 Jewish sites across the country.

France has been rocked by acts of antisemitism of late, including the stabbing of a Jewish woman in her apartment in Lyon on Saturday. The attacker drew a swastika on her front door before fleeing.

Other high-profile incidents include former French Foreign Ministry employee Sophie Pommier being filmed ripping down posters of Israeli hostages being held in Gaza; dozens of Stars of David graffitied on the homes of Jews in the 14th arrondissement of Paris so as to “mark” them; and a bomb threat that forced the evacuation of 20 Jewish schools in the city.

Suspects have been detained with knives near Jewish schools and synagogues; a drone equipped with a camera was spotted over a Jewish cultural center; and Pakistani-French influencer Haneia Nakei asked on social media what seasonings were used and what side dishes were served with the Jewish infant Hamas terrorists reportedly baked in an oven at Kibbutz Kfar Aza on Oct. 7. 

Yossef Murciano, the national secretary for the Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF), told JNS the hatred extends to campuses.

“The slogan ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ is everywhere at universities; or when sitting in the cafeteria and you hear people claiming that the Jews control the media,” said Murciano.

“It’s all to make you think that you as a Jew are guilty for what is happening in the Middle East,” he added.

“But we will not hide, we will not stop and we will certainly not leave. We’ll continue to organize protests, to paste the faces of the hostages on France’s walls and demand their release, and we’ll carry out our battle against antisemitism in universities. We are Jews and proud of it, we’ll continue to shout it out loud,” he said.

Aliyah inquiries

France’s Jewish community at 500,000 is the third-largest in the world after Israel and the United States.

However, this could change. 

This week, Israel’s Aliyah and Integration Ministry noted “a jump of 149% in the opening of cases of those interested in aliyah from France.”

Aliyah and Integration Minister Ofir Sofer predicted that “the number of immigrants will increase significantly in the coming year,” adding that “the situation is now an emergency.”

On Saturday, thousands took to the streets of Paris calling for the boycott of Israel and demanding to stop the “genocide” against the Palestinians. Protesters shouted slogans such as “Piss off, Israel, Palestine is not yours!”

It was the first authorized anti-Israel protest since the Interior Ministry banned them on Oct. 12 amid a rise in antisemitism. 

The ban did not, however, stop pro-Hamas groups from gathering and defacing the monument at the Place de la République in central Paris with the words “Free Palestine.”

French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Israel late last month to express “full solidarity” with the Jewish state amid the ongoing war.

He also pressed for the “preservation of the civilian population” in the Gaza Strip, “halting the colonization” of Judea and Samaria and the “resumption of a genuine peace process” to create a Palestinian state, according to his office.

Avi Pazner, former Israeli ambassador to Paris, pinned much of the blame for the situation on the policies of France’s political left.

“The far left has taken a very anti-Israel stance which folds into antisemitism,” said Pazner. [Former presidential candidate] Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s refusal to condemn Hamas was antisemitic. After the Holocaust, we knew that raw antisemitism would return and today it has.”

In contrast, Pazner was surprised by the supportive stance taken by National Rally leader Marine Le Pen.

“While we cannot forget that the roots of her party founded by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, are deeply antisemitic, it might be time to take a careful new look,” said Pazner.

“We used to have two enemies: the far right and the far left. It is possible that now the far left has become way more dangerous for Jews,” he added.

A source close to Le Pen told JNS that “antisemitism has no place in France.

“We should not show leniency toward those who organize rallies if they include antisemitic opinions or chants. We call to prohibit all protests that could pose a threat to public order or turn into antisemitic gatherings,” said the source.

“Every single foreign national who expresses antisemitic views should be expelled. Every foreign national who shares Islamist values and principles should be expelled,” added the source. “Macron and his government must take strong measures now.”

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