BBC Report: French Jews Are ‘Afraid to be Jewish’ (VIDEO)
by Shiryn Ghermezian
An increasing number of French Jews are moving to Israel because they are “afraid to be Jewish” in France, BBC News reported.
“It’s not just the attacks, it’s the looks. The insults. The tensions you feel every day,” said Dr. David Tibi, president of the the greater Paris region’s Jewish community. “And so life becomes more and more difficult.”
Tibi is a successful dentist in Paris and is married to an equally accomplished doctor, but this summer the couple and their five children will move to the Jewish state.
The Jewish Agency in France helped 3,200 people migrate to Israel last year, a 63 percent increase from the year before.
The spike is in part motivated by a rise in anti-Jewish hate crimes in the country, according to the report.
Documentation compiled by SPCJ, Service de Protection de la Communauté Juive, a security focused organization which serves France’s Jewish communities, said 423 anti-Semitic acts were recorded in the country in 2013 alone. Research also indicated that last year, 40 percent of all racist violence perpetrated in France targeted Jews.
French Jews often fear outwardly appearing Jewish. A European Union survey published recently suggested that 40 percent of Jews in France will avoid wearing clothing that identifies them as being Jewish, according to the BBC.
Anti-Semitic attacks in France are reported with some regularity.
In March, a 59-year-old Jewish teacher was severely beaten by a group of young men who cursed him, broke his nose and drew a swastika on his chest with a marker.
Earlier that month, a young Jewish woman was assaulted at a laundromat in a suburb of Lyon by a mother and daughter of Arab descent who shouted, “Dirty Jew, go home to your country, Israel.”
During a Paris rally in January, a day before Holocaust Memorial Day, at least 17,000 people marched in the streets while shouting “Jews, get out of France.”
Ariel Kandel, a representative of the Jewish Agency, told the BBC that more French Jews are moving to Israel because “many feel unwelcome here in France and with the economy going so badly many ask themselves, ‘why stay?’ ”
France faces an 11 percent unemployment rate as opposed to Israel’s 6 percent, the BBC noted. The Israeli government has also taken steps to encourage the immigration of French Jews, offering to provide aid for those that make the move as well as more liberal recognition of French diplomas and qualifications.
However, Paris-based Rabbi Mendel Azimov told the BBC that Jews packing up and leaving France is nothing new.
“If I’ll be running the aliyah office, its for sure that the aliyah is going crazy. I get phone calls all day… but at the same time this is only a small little percentage,” he said. “The aliyah always existed, and sometimes even more numbers than today.”
Watch the BBC report in the video below: