France / 31-03-2017
Report on the struggle against Antisemitism and homophobia 2016
The survey, carried out by the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH), revealed on Thursday the French were more tolerant to minorities compared to previous years.
The annual report counted 335 antisemitic incidents in 2016 compared to 808 the previous year — the sharpest drop on record since 2001, when the SPCJ security group of the Jewish community documented a 71% decrease to 219 cases. Data by SPCJ, which has not published its annual report, usually correspond with those published by the commission.
The commission also reported a 57% drop in anti-Muslim attacks to a total of 182 incidents in 2016.
According to the report, the decrease in attacks of Jews “is primarily due to security measures applied by the authorities as part of the Vigipirate plan.” The plan, which involves the deployment of thousands of troops around Jewish institutions and heavily Jewish neighborhoods across the country, was initiated in 2015 following the slaying of four Jews at a kosher store near Paris by an Islamist.
The report questioned the “new antisemitism thesis” proffered by the National Bureau of Vigilance Against antisemitism, a nongovernmental watchdog group run by former policemen, that most antisemitic attacks in France since 2000 have been committed by people with an immigrant background from Muslim countries who target Jews over Israel’s actions.
Scholars of antisemitism have termed the phenomenon “new antisemitism,” describing a situation in which the ancient hatred of Jews is justified as a political act of opposition to Israel’s policies or existence.
Mohammed Merah, a jihadist who murdered four Jews in Toulouse in 2012, has said he was acting to avenge the deaths of children in Gaza, as did Amedy Coulibaly, the Paris kosher shop killer who shot four hostages in 2015.
The report, however, did not mention religiously motivated attacks on Jews by Muslims.
“A significant part of the antisemitic acts (actions and threats) pertain to neo-Nazi ideology, whereas in most other cases the perpetrators’ motivations are difficult to ascertain,” it said.
“Antisemitic biases persist, linking Jews to money, power and condemning them for their attachment to their community and to Israel.” These “traditional prejudices introduce nuance to the theory of ‘a new antisemitism’ of its own, polarized by the question of Israel and Zionism,” the authors wrote.
If such a phenomenon exists, they added, “based on criticism of Israel and its role in the conflict, then it pertains to a minority” of the cases in the report, the document reads.
Despite fluctuations, the volume of antisemitic attacks in France, which in the 1990s comprised several dozens of incidents annually, has increased significantly in France since 2000, when Palestinians launched their second intifada, or uprising, against Israel. It has remained in the hundreds ever since.
The report also included surveys on the level of acceptance in society of Jews, Muslims and Roma. Jews emerged as the most accepted minority in the survey, with 81% of hundreds of respondents relating to them in positive terms.