The Steps Ahead After France Are Not Easy
It was a Kumbaya moment in the Lincoln Square Synagogue as leaders addressed the latest outrages in France at a memorial service. The speakers declared that, “We are all in it together.” But what will happen in the future? There have been years of political correctness, of not identifying the dangers of radical Islam, of permitting Sharia Zones throughout France. There have been years of false accusations and unjust condemnations of Israel in the media, which incites hatred. Riots in the streets against Jews have not been adequately prevented.
Today, there are French Muslims who do not condemn the most recent attacks. In the coming weeks no doubt, the French intelligentsia will dismiss these threats as the acts of a few deranged individuals.
Where do we go from here?
Ten years ago, the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon bluntly warned French Jews to leave France and move to Israel. Sharon’s words were met with opposition. The French foreign ministry called the comments, “unacceptable.” French Jewish leaders were also indignant. Theo Klein, the honorary president of the national French Jewish organization, CRIF, stated, “It’s not for him to decide for us.” Patrick Gaubart of the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism said, “These comments do not bring the calm, peace, and serenity that we all need.”
The Prime Minister’s words were not meant to soothe, but to warn. The violence was already erupting. He knew something sinister was emerging in the third largest Jewish community in the world.
Ten years later, the message from CRIF has changed. Following the home invasion and rape of a 19 year-old Jewish woman in the Paris suburb of Creteil in December, after a year rife with Jew hatred in France, Roger Cukierman, the current head of CRIF, called upon the government to take more action against the rise of anti-Semitism. “We feel something has changed. It’s no longer just graffiti or minor incidents, these are death threats.” He added, “It can not go on like this.”
Over the summer, the streets of Paris were awash with anti-Israel riots. In the Sarcelles suburb, which has been the scene of so much violence, thousands of French Muslims ransacked Jewish stores, set fire to automobiles, and chanted “Kill the Jews.” Where were the police to stop the savagery? They acted, but often too slowly and, at times, they themselves were under attack.
French President Francois Hollande spoke of countering anti-Semitism in his New Years address, yet he made no reference to the most significant source of the hate: radical Islam. Over the past three years, an astounding 20,000 French Jews have moved to Israel. According to a recent poll before the most recent horrors, 74% were contemplating a move from France.
An eyewitness to French Muslim riots this summer during the Gaza War stated, “They were shouting ‘kill the Jews’ and ‘slit Jews’ throats.’ It took us back to 1938.”
In France, it is dangerous to be a Jew. It is dangerous to wear a Kipa outdoors, to wear a Star of David necklace, to live openly as a Jew.
In the context of history, the problem does not face French Jewry alone. Don’t think that this is simply the problem of France or of Europe; it can be also become an American problem overnight.