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French Jews

Study finds 74% of French Jews have experienced some form of antisemitic behavior.

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

An in-depth study of antisemitism in France has revealed that the vast majority of French Jews — 74 percent — have experienced some form of “antisemitic behavior during their lives, from mockery to physical aggression, including insults or verbal threats.”

Published on Tuesday, the study, jointly conducted by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Paris-based Fondapol think-tank, surveyed more than 1,500 non-Jews on their understanding of the depth and extent of antisemitism, and over 500 Jews on their experiences of bigotry.

The study found common agreement that antisemitism in France is on an upward trajectory, with 64 percent of non-Jewish and 73 percent of Jewish respondents acknowledging the steep rise in prejudice targeting Jews over the last decade.

Muslim and anti-Zionist antisemitism were identified as the main threats to the Jewish community, with 53 percent of non-Jewish respondents citing the denial of Israel’s right to exist as a principal problem — a number that rose to 62 percent among the Jews surveyed. Similarly, 48 percent of non-Jews and 45 percent of Jews cited “Islamist ideas” as a driving factor, alongside conspiracy theories and far-right ideology.

The study found that 15 percent of French Muslims “admit to feeling antipathy towards Jews, a proportion 10 points higher than that measured in the French population as a whole.” It also pointed to enormous discrepancies between Muslims and the population as a whole with regard to antisemitic tropes. While 24 percent of the French population as a whole believe that Jews operate a “stranglehold” upon the media, that number rose to 54 percent among Muslims specifically. Similarly, 51 percent of Muslims agree that Jews dominate the French economy, compared with 26 percent among the general population.

The study also noted that religiosity was a factor in Muslim behavior towards Jews. “Adherence to prejudice is related to the intensity of attendance at places of worship,” the study observed. “For example, 61 percent of Muslims who attend mosque every week believe that ‘Jews have too much power in the field of economics and finance,’ compared to 40 percent among non-practitioners.”

Among young people, the profile of antisemitism as a social problem has grown as well. The study found that in 2021, 63 percent of those in the 18-24 age group had experienced antisemitic insults, compared with 53 percent of those who were surveyed in 2019. Social media platforms were cited as key areas where young people encounter antisemitic invective, but schools were described as “the first place of exposure to antisemitic violence.”

Supporters of extremist parties and movements are more likely to believe that antisemitism is exaggerated, the survey disclosed. Among supporters of the extreme left “La France Insoumise” (“France Rising,” LFI), 22 percent felt that antisemitism was discussed out of proportion to its importance, with 20 percent of supporters of the far-right National Rally (RN) and 22 percent of anti-vaccination activists saying the same.

The French state’s response to antisemitism was also explored in the survey. Asked about the decision of France’s highest court to excuse the murderer of Sarah Halimi, a Jewish woman, from trial on the grounds of criminal irresponsibility due to cannabis intake, 72 percent of respondents said they disagreed. Broken down along religious lines, 75 percent of Catholics opposed the Halimi decision compared with 56 percent of Muslims.

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