French Jewish Representatives Demand ‘Zero Tolerance’ for Antisemitism, as Attacks Multiply During January
The representative body of Jews in France has called on the government to take “all necessary measures” to deter further antisemitic attacks, following a spate of hate crimes targeting Jews this month.
“In recent days, several serious incidents have occurred in the Paris region,” a statement issued this week by France’s leading Jewish communal organization CRIF said. The organization said these incidents were “evidence that a worrying and dangerous climate is settling over our country, creating a real concern for the Jewish community.”
The antisemitic incidents listed by CRIF as part of its “Zero Tolerance” call included the vandalism and subsequent arson of two stores selling kosher products in a mall in the suburb of Créteil and an anonymous threatening letter sent to a synagogue in the suburb of Saint-Maur.
Decorated with Nazi swastikas, the letter to the synagogue warned, “dirty jew bastards, Hitler will win,” and “you will burn.”
Undeterred by the threat, the Saint-Maur community announced on Sunday that a planned Bar Mitzvah party would be going ahead, with security provided and paid for by the family hosting the celebration. Michel Dluto, a representative of the synagogue, told local newspaper Le Parisien that security arrangements at the majority of communal events were now being funded by the community itself. “It’s been over a year since we had troops standing guard outside the synagogue,” Dluto said.
— CRIF (@Le_CRIF) January 16, 2018
In the most serious incident, a 15 year-old Jewish girl was slashed in the face by a knife in the suburb of Sarcelles. Home to a large community of North African Jews, Sarcelles was the site of an antisemitic riot in July 2014 – at the height of the war in Gaza – when a Muslim mob wielding clubs and batons attacked Jewish-owned businesses.
The girl was slashed by an unidentified assailant who fled the scene immediately, Paris media outlets reported.
François Pupponi, the Socialist Mayor of Sarcelles, said he had no doubt that the attack on the teenager was antisemitic.
“In Sarcelles, everyone knows who is a practicing Jew, given the clothing they wear – and the delinquents also know it,” Pupponi – who has served as mayor since 1997 and has frequently urged more protection for Jewish residents – said in a statement.
“That an individual slashes the face of a young girl with a knife, while she is dressed like many women of the Jewish community, leaves no room for doubt,” Pupponi said in a statement. “In recent weeks, in Paris, Créteil and Sarcelles, we are experiencing a resurgence of antisemitic hostility. More than ever, we must be vigilant and mobilized against these acts to defend the values of the Republic.”
Meanwhile, details continue to emerge of a brutal attack on a Jewish man at his home in Montreuil, near Paris, on December 18.
According to the BNVCA, a Jewish communal security organization, the man – named as “Mr. S H” – was awoken at 2 am by three masked individuals, who tied up, beat and robbed him. Though badly injured during the assault, the victim, who remains in hospital, managed to escape and notify police.
The BNCVA said that the “method” of the Montreuil intruders brought to mind the home raids last year on the Pinto family in Livry-Gargan, as well as the gruesome murder in April last year of the Jewish pensioner Sarah Halimi.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Algemeiner on Jan. 9, Francis Kalifat, the President of CRIF, noted that there had been up to 1,000 antisemitic incidents in France annually since 2000 – when a renewed Palestinian intifada against Israel was launched by the Palestinian Authority.
There are 450-500,000 Jews in France, making it the country with the third-largest Jewish population in the world after Israel and the United States.