The French Aliyah
On Sunday, July 18th, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called on France's 600,000 Jews to immigrate to Israel "immediately." The French President immediately replied that Sharon was no longer welcome in France. But it appears that neither is French Jewry. The reason is simple. With the Islamic Council in France now controlled by Islamic fundamentalists, and with over 20% of the French voting electorate now Muslim, it comes as no surprise that there have been 309 anti-Semitic incidents in the past 15 months in the Paris region alone, and more than 550 since the second Palestinian intifada broke out in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in September 2000.
The National Consultative Committee on Human Rights, a government-funded body, reported a six-fold increase in acts of violence against Jewish people and property in France from 2001 to 2002. Since the beginning of the latest intifada in September 2000, 147 Jewish institutions - schools, synagogues, community centers and businesses - have been attacked. France has suffered what is widely considered the worst epidemic of anti-Jewish violence since the end of the Second World War, much of it at the hands of young, disenfranchised French Muslims.
Jewish cemeteries are desecrated constantly.
A French-language news web site noted that a Jewish DJ in Paris had been brutally murdered on November 19, 2003 and that a radical Muslim organization was suspected.
In January 2004, a Jewish teenager was injured in an attack by Muslim youths at an ice-skating rink near Paris. The same day, Muslim speakers at a Paris rally against a proposal to ban Islamic scarves in French schools attacked Jews and Israel describing Zionism as "an apartheid ideology that we should fight like we fight Nazism.”
On French television, a comedian wearing a Jewish skullcap gave a Nazi salute while yelling, "Isra-Heil!"
In French schools, Jewish children are beaten with impunity, and teachers dare not talk about the Holocaust for fear of provoking Muslim pupils.
In Strasbourg, a Jewish school bus was set on fire and rocks were thrown at a synagogue in the center of the city.
In Macon, a concert by an Israeli singer was interrupted repeatedly by anti-Semitic shouts of "Death to the Jews" and "Dirty Jew."
Observant Jews are told to cover any outward signs of their faith for their own personal safety.
A 14-year-old boy wearing a yarmulke came out of the Ourq metro station and was followed by two young men. They called him a "dirty Jew" and robbed him in front of a crowd of witnesses. The men knocked the boy down, beat him on the head and broke his nose. The boy begged for help from passers-bys. No one bothered to stop.
In central Paris, a teacher from a Jewish school, was beaten up by young men, who ripped the Star of David from the teacher's neck and trampled her. They called her a "dirty Jew" and lit her hair on fire. They also told her, "We're going to burn all you Jews."
A group of four young men interrupted a class in the auditorium of the University Medical School of Saint-Antoine in Paris screaming: "We're going to kill all the Jews" and, "We're armed and we're going to take you all down." When a Jewish student confronted the men, they beat him and robbed him. The professor who was teaching the class said nothing and the men walked out without a care in the world while the class looked on in silence. The Dean of the University (as at the date of this writing) had not responded.
On the walls of the Rue Des Rosiers (in the Marais, the Jewish quarter), Stars of David in yellow paint accompanied by the slogan, "And don't forget the showers of Zyclon B," appear - a reminder of how a previous generation of French collaborators assisted the Nazis in transporting Jews to the gas chambers of the Third Reich. Also in Paris, a 12-year-old girl coming out of a Jewish school was attacked by two men who beat her, held her down and slashed her face with a box cutter. They then carved a swastika into her face and walked away.
And the violence in France parallels incidents throughout Europe, where attacks on Jewish institutions and other expressions of anti-Semitism have risen over the past few years, as has strong criticism of Israel.
But in many ways, France - with 6 million Muslims and 600,000 Jews, the largest population of each group in Western Europe - is unique. As the president of the Jewish Citizens Forum, an organization founded largely by Sephardic Jews said recently: “. "We have begun to ask ourselves if we can even stay in France. Are we really French citizens? We have the feeling that we were a people apart." In the end, by December 2003, 3,236 French Jews had chosen to immigrate to Israel, the largest annual influx since the 1967 war, and double the figure for 2002! In fact, a recent poll by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency suggests that more than 25% of France's Jews are considering leaving.
Personally, I couldn’t care less about the pompous pretension of the French to the grandeur they shed 50 years ago when they lost their honor under Vichy, and their loss of empire relegated them to the rank of a second-class power. Chirac and Schroeder may make pronouncements that they cannot sanction the death penalty for Saddam Hussein but who cares, and besides, who asked them?
What I cannot forgive is the sacrifice that this country has made in two world wars to liberate the French only to see them return to their old appeasement policies and feign innocence. For America, they have become more than a hindrance; they have become a major security threat because of their constant negative interference in NATO peacemaking efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But for French Jewry, it's qualitatively worse. The coming Muslim resurgence in Europe combined with age-old French anti-Semitism and appeasement is now threatening the future of French Jewry. While France ingratiates itself with the Arab world, French Jewry must hide its identity, seek state protection, and run the gauntlet of Muslim rage. Sadly, the reality of the day is that the rogue Islamists, the rising global Left, and the traditional anti-Semitism of European conservatives are mixing together in a dangerous cocktail for the Jews, and many have now had enough.
In the end, the Jewish community of France is gradually coming to the realization that there is only one nation, Israel, that will welcome them unconditionally, and it is important that we assist them; that we support and finance their efforts to make aliyah by contributing to UJA Campaigns around the world, and that we continue to support Israel for, in the fullness of time, no one truly knows what the future will bring for us as well.