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France Waking Up to Its Anti-Semitism?

Socialist François Hollande is showing support to French Jews. But they are still considering leaving.

by
Michel Gurfinkiel

Bio

November 15, 2012 - 12:00 am
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That most Jews in France feel utterly insecure by now and that many consider leaving for another country is an open secret. Interior Minister Manuel Valls — who is seen as even more pro-Jewish and pro-Israel as Hollande — insists that Jews are an integral part of the French nation, and that “France cannot countenance” a mass exodus of its “children”).

Which means that such a mass exodus is indeed being discussed.

French Jews certainly love France and are loyal to the French nation. On the other hand, they are either the survivors or the survivors’ children of two major cataclysms: the Shoah in the 1940s and the near-total expulsion from Islamic countries from the late 1940s to the 1980s. All of them know or were told by their closest relatives about previous “expiry dates.”

The Toulouse massacre was certainly a turning point. But more anti-Jewish violence was reported throughout the summer in France. It culminated in an attack against a kosher supermarket in Sarcelles, in the Paris suburbs, on September 19. Two weeks later, on October 6, the French police dismantled an Islamist cell that was apparently involved in the Sarcelles attack and was planning more attacks, including the assassination of several Jewish leaders. What was noteworthy about it was that its members were mostly converts to Islam rather than Muslims by birth.

Le Monde, the authoritative if somewhat left-wing newspaper of France, two days later published a landmark editorial:

A sinister fact was validated over the weekend. There are in France groups that are decisively engaged in anti-Jewish violence. … All in the name of Islam, and of an unbelievable ideological hodgepodge where the Muslim community’s concerns over the Middle East coalesce with questions over Afghanistan. … What is however really new and really frightening is that the anti-Jewish violence borrows a lot from the old European anti-Semitism that prevailed at the end of the 19th century. … And that the Internet spreads the anti-Semitic renewal through a myriad of anti-Western sites.

The link between anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, Islamism, and global anti-Western militancy is not breaking news, to say the least. What is important here is that Hollande (at least implicitly), Valls (much more explicitly), and Le Monde and the French intellectual and political establishment it stands for do not attempt any longer to deny it or to underestimate it. How come?

It may be surmised that somehow the French nation as a whole, starting with its police forces, realizes that networks who plan the systematic murder of Jews can just as well engage in a civil war. It’s not the Jews’ yogurt, stupid, it’s ours.

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Michel Gurfinkiel is the Founder and President of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute, a conservative think-thank in France, and a Shillman/Ginsburg Fellow at Middle East Forum.
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