Following Massacre, Jews of Nice ‘Very, Very Anxious’ About Being Next Target of Jihadist Attack
A rabbi in Nice said the city’s Jews are afraid to become the next targets of jihadist activity, Newsweek reported on Sunday.
According to Rabbi Jeremy Zaoui of the Sephardic Synagogue Corniche Fleurie, the city’s approximately 25,000 Jews “are very, very anxious,” and believe it is only a matter of time before they are singled out.
“In my synagogue, in general, we have 150 people. People are not coming a lot, it’s not like Shabbat. There were maybe 80 people,” he said. “People are scared, because in Paris, first it was all people, and after it was Jewish people.”
Zaoui’s comments came on the heels of Thursday’s massacre, perpetrated by 31-year-old Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who plowed a large truck through groups of pedestrians gathered to celebrate Bastille Day. At least 84 people were killed in the attack — 10 of them children — and more than 300 injured.
On Sunday, Raymonde Mamane, a French Jew wounded in the attack, succumbed to her injuries. Her sister, 80-year-old Clara Bensimon, also injured in the attack, remains in critical condition — on life-support, with both of her legs amputated. Five other Jews are among the injured and missing, Rabbi Yossef Pinson, director of the local Chabad House, confirmed.
French Jewish groups condemned Thursday’s attack, urging the government to increase its vigilance against terrorism. As reported by The Algemeiner, Joël Mergui, president of the French Consistoire — a Jewish community umbrella group — called on French leaders to act against Islamic extremism, which he compared to Nazism.
“Like the United States and Israel, whose population is also affected by this new type of unconventional warfare on a global scale, our country must resist Islamism, this new denier of human rights, today’s Nazis,” he said.
“The hijacking of a truck and making it a weapon of war shows once again that the enemies of democracy will stop at nothing to bring death, chaos and terror, with the sole objective of imposing their jihadist vision on the world,” Mergui added.
For many Jews in France, the Nice attack is yet another reminder of their fragile situation. Still fresh in their minds are other high-profile terrorist assaults — such as the 2012 shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse, and an attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris in 2015. In addition, they have been experiencing a growing tide of antisemitism in the country as a whole.
According to Israel’s Jewish Agency, in 2015 alone — following the Charlie Hebdo massacre — a record 8,000 Parisians moved to Israel. Since 2000, nearly one tenth of the Jewish community has made aliyah.
Over the years, Nice has become a breeding ground for radicalization, with security officials estimating that dozens of locals have fled to Syria to join the fighting there.