Jewish Leader Calls for Urgent Online Campaign to Combat Antisemitism in France (INTERVIEW)
A widespread online campaign to infiltrate social networks and disrupt a dialogue of antisemitism and Holocaust denial is necessary to stem the growing tide of antisemitic attacks in France, the vice president of one of France’s largest Jewish umbrella organizations told The Algemeiner on Monday.
The Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions believes that antisemitism in France is spread among today’s younger generation — where the trend is most severe — through the Internet, said Vice President Yonathan Arfi. Therefore, that’s where the fight must be trained.
The French government recently pledged 100 million euros to combat antisemitism, but antisemitic incidents were already up 84 percent in the first quarter of 2015, a survey by the SPCJ French security service for Jewish communities revealed on Monday. Of the antisemitic incidents reported this year, 23%, or 121 attacks, were violent, said the group.
Arfi explained that antisemitic attacks generally increase following a severe incident, such as the siege at a Paris Kosher supermarket in January where a lone gunmen killed four people. He said there was a similar spike in incidents in 2012 following an antisemitic attack against a Jewish school in Toulouse.
While the French government pledged to boost education about the Holocaust and antisemitism, that was a “long-term issue,” said Arfi, and “short-term efforts” are also crucial. Calling on the U.S. for additional support, he said policy must be crafted to crack down on known antisemities online and in social networks.
The vast majority of French are not antisemitic, said Arfi, which is underlined by a recent Anti-Defamation League survey indicating a substantial dip in antisemitic attitudes among the French, from 37% expressing antisemitic beliefs of some sort in 2014 to 17% this year so far.
But antisemitism is growing among a younger population of immigrants and children of immigrants, which many fear is susceptible to radicalization by groups such as the Islamic State, which is known to spread its ideology and recruit through online fora.