July 24, 2024
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French Jews Endure a Rash of Anti-Semitic Attacks

France—As Israel continues to defend itself from rockets fired by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Jews in France are defending themselves against new antisemitic violence. The vicious and disturbing attacks leveled against the French Jewish community leave fearing for their safety and resulted in the French president pledging to crack down in order to end the hostility.

Several thousand people took to the streets in Paris on Sunday, July 13 to protest the Israeli airstrikes targeting Hamas militants. After marching behind a large banner that read “Total Support for the Struggle of the Palestinian People,” protesters clashed with police in Bastille Square, who were forced to use tear gas in an effort to disperse the crowd.

A group of protesters stormed two Paris synagogues, using bats and chairs in an attempt to gain entry. Several Jewish men and six police officers were injured in the clashes, as the protestors reportedly hurled stones and bricks at the synagogue. In one of the synagogues, approximately 150 members of France’s Jewish community were gathered for a ceremony held in honor of the three Israeli teens recently killed by Hamas terrorists.

During another demonstration on the 13th, in Belleville, an eastern suburb of Paris, several dozen protesters railed against Israel. That protest featured calls to “slaughter the Jews” and the crowd chanted, “Death to the Jews.”

On July 8, the day Israel embarked on Operation Protective Edge, a man described as having a Middle Eastern appearance sprayed a 17-year-old Jewish girl on a Paris street with pepper sspray near the Gare du Nord (the central train station). The attacker reportedly shouted “Dirty Jewess, inshallah (if Allah wills), you will die.”

On Friday night, July 11, a firebomb was thrown at the entrance to the synagogue in Aulnay-sous-Bois, located in a northeastern suburb of Paris. No one was injured, although the fire resulted in minor damage.

French President Francois Hollande has endeavored to alleviate the tensions. “We cannot have intrusion or efforts of intrusions into places of worship, whether they are synagogues, as happened yesterday, but I would say the same thing for mosques, for churches, or for temples,” he said the day after the two Paris synagogues were attacked. “Religions should be respected, all religions. These places of worship should be protected.”

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls also condemned the attacks. “Such acts targeting places of worship are unacceptable,” he said. France took steps to increase security around the synagogues to prevent additional attacks. In addition, Hollande met with senior representatives of the Jewish community.

According to Joel Mergei, president of the Israelite Central Consistory of France, the recent attacks are a “…new low. I am profoundly shocked and revolted,” said Mergei. “This aggression towards the Jewish community has taken an absolutely unacceptable turn.”

Since 2000, there have been outbreaks of antisemitic acts in France whenever Israel and the Palestinians engage in military conflict. Over the past 14 years, there have been approximately 8,000 antisemitic incidents in France.

“Today, many French Jews are afraid of being subjected to attacks because in France, under the context of defending the Palestinian cause, there are those who go after people of the Jewish faith,” said Sacha Reingewirtz, President of the French Jewish Student Union. “French Jews serve as stand-ins for Israeli targets.”

“We are seeing a massive rise in extremely violent antisemitic statements online that we don’t usually see in ordinary times,” said Marc Knobel, head of studies at the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions. “There are many threats and there are many violent words on the Internet. From the statements made online one can quickly proceed to violent words and finally violent acts.”

In recognizing the dangerous nature of the situation and understanding the need to quell the attacks against the French Jewish community, President Hollande issued a warning to his nation’s pro-Palestinian population. “The conflict between Israel and Palestine cannot be used as an excuse for antisemitism,” he said.

From combined sources

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