An­ti­semitic acts surge in France, govern­ment prom­ises ac­tion

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS -

PARIS (Reuters) – Vi­o­lence against Jews and other acts of an­tisemitism have surged in France in the past nine months, Prime Min­is­ter Edouard Philippe said on Fri­day, promis­ing stepped-up ac­tion against per­pe­tra­tors.

Cit­ing new govern­ment sta­tis­tics, Philippe said acts of an­tisemitism had risen 69% in the year to Septem­ber, com­pared with the same pe­riod in 2017, an in­crease he said should worry ev­ery­one in France. In the two pre­vi­ous years there had been a down­ward trend in the fig­ures.

“Not re­main­ing in­dif­fer­ent means taking bet­ter care of vic­tims, ac­knowl­edg­ing their com­plaints and more ef­fi­ciently pun­ish­ing those who carry out at­tacks,” Philippe said on Face­book.

Jewish com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions have re­ported par­tic­u­lar hos­til­ity in low-in­come French sub­urbs with large Mus­lim pop­u­la­tions. France has both Europe's largest Jewish com­mu­nity of 400,000 peo­ple and big­gest Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion of 5.7 mil­lion.

In re­cent years there have been a num­ber of high-pro­file at­tacks tar­get­ing the Jewish com­mu­nity, most no­tably the killing of four Jews in a kosher su­per­mar­ket in Jan­uary 2015.

That at­tack, car­ried out by an Islamic State-in­spired ter­ror­ist, prompted an in­crease in Jewish em­i­gra­tion to Is­rael.

In March, an 85-year-old Jewish woman was stabbed to death and set alight in her apart­ment in Paris by two at­tack­ers, who were charged with mur­der mo­ti­vated by an­tisemitism.

There have also been a num­ber of Jewish tombs des­e­crated, an­ti­semitic graf­fiti scrawled on walls near syn­a­gogues, or on the doors of homes and busi­nesses owned by Jews.

“We have seen a very strong in­crease in an­ti­semitic mes­sages on the In­ter­net,” said Fran­cis Kal­i­fat, pres­i­dent of Crif, an um­brella or­ga­ni­za­tion rep­re­sent­ing French Jews.

“We have also seen a de­vel­op­ment of ha­tred to­ward Is­rael that trans­lates into a vir­u­lent anti-Zion­ism, which has, like the pres­i­dent said, be­come a rein­vented form of an­tisemitism.”

Philippe said the govern­ment would ap­point spe­cial mag­is­trates and pros­e­cu­tors to tackle the prob­lem and launch aware­ness pro­grams in pub­lic schools.

The govern­ment will also act to curb hate on so­cial net­works, said In­te­rior Min­is­ter Christophe Cas­taner.

“The feel­ing of in­se­cu­rity is real and jus­ti­fied,” Mario Stasi, chair­man of France's league against racism and an­tisemitism, told BFMTV. “Some Jews are leav­ing ar­eas within France to seek haven else­where.”

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