(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/06/French_JewishCemetery.gif)Earlier this week, as reported in Algemeiner, three yarmulke-wearing young Jews in Villeurbanne, France were attacked with hammers and iron bars by a mob of over a dozen Muslim youths. The victims had to be hospitalized and then were released.
The Times of Israel reports that police are still looking for the perpetrators, and that they’re believed to be of North African extraction.
It was only in March, of course, that the French Muslim Mohammed Merah killed a teacher-rabbi and three young children in a French Jewish school in Toulouse. But from that incident to this latest, somewhat publicized incident, things have hardly been quiet for French Jews.
Not only did French Jewish leaders tell The Times of Israel that “There has been a series of acts like the one in Villeurbanne” and that “Not a week passes without anti-Semitic assaults in France.” Ariel Goldman, vice-president of the French Jewish communal organization CRIF, revealed that the Toulouse attack—however horrifying to many—acted as something of a tonic: “In the month following [it] we counted 140 such acts…. This amounts to a third of the violent incidents we had in 2011.”
And in a report on Tuesday, a Villeurbanne rabbi and school principal said that “We are regularly cursed and spat on” and that last month a motorcyclist in the town fired rubber bullets at a yarmulke-wearing Jew in a car, lightly wounding him.
A few things are worth pointing out here.
First is that most French Jews are themselves of North African origin, immigrants or descendants of immigrants from Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco who fled Arab persecution in those countries in the 1950s and 1960s as French rule declined. In fleeing to France, these North African Jews formed a minority as most of their compatriots made their way to Israel.
In France, seemingly, this population might at least have expected to be safe from further Arab, and particularly North African Arab, persecution. But it was not to be. French Arabs now outnumber French Jews by about 10 to 1, and a large majority of French Arabs are also of Algerian, Tunisian, and Moroccan origin. Hence, in France, North African Jews only succeeded to change the stage setting of their persecution by North African Arabs.
The above-linked Algemeiner report quotes French Jewish artist Ron Agam: “It is about time now for the French authorities to radically search for these Imams and put a stop to the brainwashing of tens of thousands of Muslim kids in France.” But such repeated entreaties to the French authorities have not helped much, and it’s now reported that large numbers of French Jews are considering moving to Israel after all; thousands already have, or have bought apartments there.
Israel too, of course, is hardly free from Arab/Muslim aggression, but it is an independent Jewish state that mostly takes attacks on Jews seriously and invests greatly in countering them.
Second, it was in France, specifically Paris, in the 1890s that Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl experienced a revelatory sense that European Jewry was in grave trouble when he witnessed anti-Semitic mobs incensed by the trial of Alfred Dreyfus—a French Jewish army officer who was accused of treason and later exonerated.
Herzl’s sense of an emergency is considered to have been vindicated, negatively, by the Holocaust, and positively by the rebirth of Israel in 1948. Yet, today, “enlightened,” democratic France is once more a dangerous hell for Jews. There are some things that even monumental events like the Holocaust and the rebirth of Israel do not seem to change.
And finally, it is not, of course, the case that the Arab and Muslim world alone is responsible for the current plight of French and other European Jewry. As Jonathan Tobin notes,
The flow of raw hate speech against Jews from Cairo and Tehran and other Arab and Muslim capitals is not to be underestimated, but the willingness of European intellectuals to lend their support to the demonization of the Jewish state has given these sentiments a patina of undeserved legitimacy.
Under a thin veneer of “anti-Zionism” or “anti-Israelism,” homegrown European anti-Semitism has returned in full force as the Jewish state is singled out for boycotts and obsessive vituperation.
Some of the effects were evident in a study finding that 40 percent of Europeans believe Israel is waging an extermination war against the Palestinians. Here, sheer disinformation plays a part as a viciously anti-Israeli “elite” media portrays the Jewish state as singularly evil. But such disinformation is also an excellent way to awaken latent anti-Semitism.
If there is any redeeming feature to this situation, it is the growing realization by French and other European Jews that Europe is perhaps a lost cause.As Muslim populations grow, along with their electoral clout, and homegrown European viciousness toward Israel and Jews shows no sign of abating, there is no reasonable prospect that European Jewry’s lot will get much better.
Hence, this population should not wait for another Herzl to clarify things for it. Even the actual Herzl was only able to do a limited amount of good.
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