The least surprising thing about yesterday’s turn of events in Paris is that Jews are the target. Because when it comes to home-grown anti-Semitism, France leads the world.
A survey last year from the European Jewish Congress and Tel Aviv University found that France had more violent anti-Semitic incidents in 2013 than any other country in the world. Jews were the target of 40 per cent of all racist crimes in France in 2013 – even though they comprise less than 1 per cent of the population. Attacks on Jews have risen sevenfold since the Nineties.
No wonder Jewish emigration from France is accelerating. From being the largest Jewish community in the EU at the start of this decade, with a population of around 500,000, it is expected by Jewish community leaders to have fallen to 400,000 within a few years. That figure is thought by some to be too optimistic. Anecdotally, every French Jew I know has either already left or is working out how to leave. …
David Tibi, the then leader of Paris’s main Jewish umbrella group, left last July. As he told The Jewish Chronicle: “There is an atmosphere of anti-Semitism in the streets. My daughter was attacked in the tramway, so was my son. The aggressors made anti-Semitic comments and pushed them around. We no longer have a place in France.”
The Jewish school shooting in Toulouse in 2012, in which four people were murdered at point blank range by a French-born jihadist trained in the Middle East; the growing support for Marine Le Pen’s National Front; and the popularity of anti-Semitic figures such as the comedian Dieudonne, are all part of the undercurrent of anti-Semitism that frames French life. And more recently synagogues have been firebombed and Jewish areas attacked by mobs. Almost of all these attacks have been carried out by Muslims.
Very depressing and sad. As Jews leave France because it is no longer safe, I feel glad there is one country on Earth where they can immigrate as of right, and be safe.
But on the uplifting front:
Lassana, employed by the Hyper Casher where a hostage situation occurred Friday, had had the reflex to hide his customers from the armed terrorist. Hiding them had permitted the escape from Amedy Coulibaly.
He introduces himself as being a “Mali Muslim,” as was Amedy Coulibaly. Confronted by the heavily-armed terrorist in the kosher supermarket where he worked, Lassana acted only on reflex: Helping the hostages to find a safe place. The customers were stuffed down, via a trap door, in the basement. “When they got down on the fly,” explained the employee of Hyper Casher to [a french TV station], “I opened the door to the freezer. There were man people who had come back [into the freezer] with me. I turned out the light, I turned off the freezer.”
Among the frightened customers, a man found himself there with “a two-year old baby,” said Lassana. He was actually a baby of three and a half years, who accompanied his father. “When I had turned off the freezer, I had put them inside, I closed the door, I said: “Remain calm, here, I will get you out.” “When they were out, they congratulated me, they thanked me,” recounted humbly this young man.
That’s a great example of the common humanity that binds together most people, regardless of religion.
At the memorial rally today in France, I think it is powerful symbolism that the President of France will not only be joined the UK PM, German Chancellor and Spanish PM, but also the PM of Turkey, the PM of Israel and the President of the Palestinian Authority.