A report released by the SPCJ, the security unit of the French Jewish community, has reported a 58 percent increase in anti-semitic incidents in 2012 compared to 2011. The report demonstrated that 614 anti-semitic acts were documented in 2012, compared to 389 in 2011. This averages to about 1.6 anti-semitic acts per day. Additionally, attacks where the Jewish victims were physically assaulted doubled. Only 57 such cases were reported in 2011. The report asserted that “2012 has been a year of unprecedented violence against Jews in France,” and claimed that the peak of such anti-antisemitism was the Toulouse massacre of four Jews at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish School and the bombing of a kosher supermarket in Sarcelles, in which two were injured.
This report published by the French Jewish community claimed that “far from raising awareness, the attacks in Toulouse and Sarcelles prompted a dramatic increase in anti-Semitic acts with many anti-Semitic acts in the wake of the Toulouse shooting bearing reference to identification with Merah and his actions.” Indeed, in the ten days following the Toulouse massacre, 90 anti-semitic attacks were reported.
The Ozar Hatorah School itself received numerous anti-semitic phone calls and e-mails immediately following the massacre of the school’s rabbi and three of its students, while during the week following this terror attack, a 12-year-old boy from the Ozar Hatorah School was physically assaulted by anti-Semites near the Ozar Hatorah school and furthermore, earlier this month, an anti-semitic woman attempted to stab a student at this school as well. Yet, as if all of this were not bad enough, in the eight days following the Sarcelles kosher supermarket bombing, 28 anti-semitic attacks were reported.
Evidently, according to the French Ministry of Interior, 55 percent of all racist attacks in France last year were of an anti-semitic nature. In 2012, 175 racist attacks were reported to the French Ministry of Interior, out of which 96 bore an anti-Jewish character while only 70 were racist or xenophobic and a mere 9 were anti-Muslim. This means that anti-semitic attacks are eight times as likely to occur in France as a racist or xenophobic attack is, according to the French government’s own statistics.
Richard Prasquier, the President of the French Jewish RIF organization, asserted that for some members of the French Jewish community, “especially children, walking into a store, a school or a subway can be a source of anxiety and sustained psychological trauma.” Yet, none of this should come as surprising. According to a study conducted by the World Zionist Organization, 40 percent of the French population holds anti-semitic views, with the most popular anti-semitic French belief being that Jews “have too much power in the business world.” Additionally, 47 percent of the French population believes that French Jews are more loyal to Israel than France. 54 percent of Frenchmen with a college-level education or higher think that such antisemitism is based mainly on negative feelings that these Frenchmen feel for the Jewish people and that it has nothing to do with Zionism.
As a result of such anti-semitism, the French Jewish community is living in fear. It has become dangerous for one to speak Hebrew publicly or to wear identifying Jewish symbols on the streets of France. The windows of Jewish buildings are frequently protected to prevent people from being hurt from broken glass. Many French Jews are seeking to make Aliyah to Israel, yet those who remain behind live in dread of the next anti-semitic attack.
By Rachel Avraham