French Jews ‘on edge’ as ter­ror trial starts

The Sunday Telegraph - - World news - By David Chazan in Paris

CON­CERNS over anti-Semitism in France are set to be reignited to­mor­row when the trial opens of the brother of Mo­hamed Merah, whose at­tack on a Jewish school in 2012 sparked an ex­o­dus of French Jews.

Ab­delka­der Merah, 35, is ac­cused of help­ing his brother to plot his ram­page. He shot dead three sol­diers and four Jews, in­clud­ing three pupils at a Jewish school in the south­ern city of Toulouse. Mo­hamed Merah, a self-pro­claimed Is- lamist, died in a po­lice raid after the killings. About 300 Jewish fam­i­lies have since left Toulouse for Is­rael or other coun­tries, the French Jewish coun­cil CRIF es­ti­mates. Some 20,000 French Jews em­i­grated from 2014 to 2016, mainly to Is­rael, Bri­tain, the US and Canada.

Jérôme Four­quet, of the IFOP polling firm, said the at­tack on the Ozar Ha­torah school in Toulouse was a “de­ci­sive event that prompted Jews to leave France or to con­sider leav­ing”. Haïm Kor­sia, France’s chief rabbi, said French Jews felt aban­doned by the na­tion in the af­ter­math of the school killings.

“There was a sort of dis­tanc­ing, an in­dif­fer­ence. We felt very alone at demon­stra­tions and cer­e­monies. We had to wait un­til Jan­uary 2015 [after the Char­lie Hebdo and kosher su­per­mar­ket at­tacks in Paris] to ex­pe­ri­ence the fra­ter­nity we would so much have liked to feel then.”

Emi­gra­tion has now slowed, but Europe’s largest Jewish com­mu­nity, es­ti­mated at 500,000, “re­mains on edge,” Mr Four­quet said.

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