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Maria Sliwa’s May 17, 2003 article France and its Jews written during the period when the Second Intifada was being waged against Israel, asserted that of the approximate Jewish population in France of 650,000 (there are 6 million Muslims in France) a quarter “Are considering leaving (France) in the wake of the attacks targeting the country’s Jewish community.” Sliwa quoted Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum as saying, “Anti-Semitism is not new in France. France never purged itself of anti-Semitism, it just hid it.”
The murder of the Jewish children and rabbi on Monday, March 19, 2012, made headlines throughout Europe and the world this week, and the French ambassador to Israel, Francois Bigot addressed the Israeli Knesset’s (Parliament) Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee last Tuesday declaring that “France will not rest until the perpetrator of the atrocity in Toulouse is found.” Bigot added that “Hate crimes went against the larger trend in France, which has seen a drop in local anti-Semitism over the past couple of years. He said that in 2011 there were 380 anti-Semitic incidents as opposed to 900 in 2001.”
On the day of the attacks MK Yaakov Katz (National Union) called on Jews to leave France, declaring “there is no Jewish future in France.” Katz added that only in Israel is there a future for the Jewish people, and that Jews should not entrust their fate to Sarkozy, Obama or other world leaders.
During WWII the pro-Nazi Vichy government of France helped deport 75,000 French Jews to their death in Nazi concentration camps. The French political right that included the Catholic clergy and monarchists persecuted Jewish Captain Alfred Dreyfus in the famous 1894 trial. Numerous expulsions and forced conversions of Jews occurred during the Middle Ages in addition to Jews in certain French provinces being forced to wear a badge following the edict of the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. With these events as a partial background, it is no surprise that Jews are sensitive to acts of anti-Semitism in the land of Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite (France’s national motto). And, to reaffirm Jewish suspicions, the March 21, 2012 Los Angeles Times referenced results from an ADL survey that compared 2009 and 2012 attitudes towards Jews in France which indicate that nearly half of the French people surveyed hold “classical anti-Semitic notions.”
Former French president Jacque Chirac was reported by Israel Insider to have said on March 1, 2002 that “I would like to say clearly there is no upsurge in anti-Semitism in France.” Similar assurances have been recently made by President Sarkozy. Protecting the Jews of France requires, however, the protection of the Jews of Israel. And, as long as Israel is vilified in the French media, abused in academia, and betrayed by the French government, anti-Semitism will not abate, and Jews will continue to be vulnerable to such despicable attacks such as has occurred this week. And as long as Muslim radicals in France are not dealt with in the severest way, violence against Jews will continue, and France will not be safe for Jews.
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