France / 11-01-2012
Is Paris burning? The antisemitic plague in France
The Jewish scholar, Professor Samuel Trigano presented a most disturbing picture on the dimensions of antisemitism in France, home of the largest Jewish community in Europe.
Less than five hours flight from here 400.000 Jews, the largest Jewish community in Europe, second largest in the Diaspora, have to deal on a daily basis with an atmosphere of hatred, hostility, verbal and physical violence directed at them by their neighbors. The authorities turn a blind eye to this and the press contributes to the intensification of the hatred.
The outcome: Although French Jewry lives in a country whose national motto reads “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’ they are in growing fear and feel as though they are living on borrowed time. A small spark for whatever reason is enough to make things even worse.
Schmuel Trigano, professor of theology and political sociology at the University of Nanterre in Paris, who visited Israel, recently said:
“We are deep in the third era of modern antisemitism – a new mutation of the horrific, sick and disastrous phenomenon. This antisemitism is not defined by its explicit name but hides behind softened, critical and seemingly legitimate terms: anti-Israeli or anti-Zionist approaches – and is as such perceived as legal criticism.”
Denial by the media
Professor Trigano (63) visited Israel two weeks ago as a guest of a conference held in Bar Ilan University on the new era of Jewish hatred in the world. The University announced that it intends to raise funds and make contributions towards the establishment of a new interdisciplinary centre that will train professionals to deal with antisemitic, anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist attacks in the world press.
In an interview to the “Ha’Magazin” Professor Trigano said: “The French media and establishment in France, as in other European countries, use distorted terminology when defining antisemitic incidents and in doing so underestimate their severity. In the laundered language it is called “inter-communal tensions” between Jews and their Muslim or Arab neighbors. As long as there are only verbal attacks and no actual physical harm, they don’t make much of the incidents.”
“A decade ago there were more than 500 antisemitic incidents, including actual physical damages but local media refused to report them. They denied they ever happened.” says Professor Trigano.
“You make it up. Nothing happened” they said to the leaders of the Jewish Community. Lionel Jospin and President Jacques Chirac asked French Jewry to remain silent and “not add fuel to the fire”. Those were the days of the second Intifada. The interior Minister at that time, Nicolas Sarcozy recognized the facts but said that they were only insignificant events resulting from inter-communal tensions. Some politicians even said that the Jews themselves were responsible for the events since they are pro-Israel and Israel is being aggressive towards the Palestinians.”
Not our Holocaust
These attacks which were previously mainly physical have diminished but not disappeared. In 2006 Ilan Halimi, a young Jewish man was kidnapped and tortured by members of a gang of Muslim immigrants. In 2008, Rudy Haddad, a young Jewish man was violently attacked because of his Jewish background. At the same time the attacks became verbal.
“Jewish children learning in public schools were pressured into leaving, since the institution was not able to protect them from the abuse of their classmates – Muslims from North Africa and children from Arab origin. Even Jewish teachers were confronted with a similar pressure. “And more serious events took place, Professor Trigano tells: “A year ago a non Jewish teacher used the word Holocaust in her class. The inspector of the French Ministry of Education received a complaint and filed a report stating that she had used an ideological and impartial term in her lessons. This also is an expression of antisemitism.
“Two months ago in one of Paris’ satellite towns on the banks of the Seine, 17,5 km south of Paris with about 27000 inhabitants, a church and a synagogue, young Arab women ambushed a Jewish family leaving the synagogue. They cursed, spat on them and hit them. This resulted in a broken arm. The Jewish family filed a complaint. The police arrested some of the Arab women but released them shortly afterwards. The police claimed that the matter was of no public interest.”
Recently a lot of antisemitic events took place which reminded the ancient blood libel myth about the Jewish cruelty against non-Jewish children. One of the events took place far from the Israeli media in the small French speaking town of Nivelles. On a rare sunny Saturday, May 24, 2008 the streets of the town were filled by hundreds if not thousands of people crowding near the church “The Saint Gertrude” and watching ecstatically what was called by the organizers “The psychodrama – Nakba”.
The main scene in this street show was the reconstruction of the Muhammad al Dura story, who is bleeding and dying in agony in the arms of his father, after allegedly being shot by Israeli soldiers. The crowd shouted at the theatrical performance. Nobody referred to the many doubts the issue raised, as was broadcasted on French Television at the time and later on. Even high ranking Belgian public figures who were present did not protest against the problematic performance.
“New antisemitism makes extensive use of “laundered” political correct terminology”
emphasizes Professor Trigano. The Palestinians themselves and the Arabs and Muslims living in
France and other European countries encourage the hatred. They know how to create, nurture
and exaggerate such myths. They even dare to say that Israel is the one who has betrayed the
memory of the Holocaust and that a good Jew is a dead victim of the Holocaust. But now, in
the 21st century, they are the real victims of the Holocaust. Those twisted antisemitic
formulations resonate among a growing number of simple minded Christians who are actually anti-
Israeli and are therefore justifiable and moral.”
Violence is a matter of time
The allegation against the Jews in France is that since they support Israel and its actions, they are not loyal to the state in which they live. “The Jewish community is seen as part of the Jewish Lobby in the world, serving in the first place the interests of Israel, the country harming the Palestinians.” Radical and other extreme elements from the left contribute to the circle of hatred, among them some Israelis calling themselves – post Zionists – enemies of the State of Israel who always criticize its actions. They act together with the Muslim fundamentalists. Who would have thought that at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century a public opinion poll would show that 44% of the Italian population believes that the Jews pose a threat to the country and to Europe?
“A month ago France 2 broadcasted a program – “Eye on the planet” dedicated to the image of the future Palestinian state. Israel was blamed for all it matters and was presented as a monster. The information was based on lies and in fact encouraged antisemitic comments mostly from Muslim viewers. Leaders of the Jewish Community complained to the regulation about the distortions, but their complaint was rejected: “the Jews are again demonstrating an aggressive approach” was the answer of the journalists.
Professor Trigano claims that for almost ten years the French television – some say deliberately - has rarely invited Jewish intellectuals to their programs. They call them “fascist Zionists”. On the other hand they invite only Jews defining themselves as post-Zionists or anti-Israeli. “Encouraged by Muslim elements, they want them to blame Israel explicitly. When they invite a Jewish and Zionist intellectual it is clear that they have only one intention: “to kill” him live in front of the cameras.
“The atmosphere is explosive and verbal attacks have morphed into physical ones that may encourage a renewed outbreak of physical violence. Trigano warns that “it is just a matter of time. The French society is virtually impotent in the face of this phenomenon. In the outskirts of Paris a new movement was established – “the natives of the republic”. They are the children of the post colonial immigrants, Muslims from North Africa. During their meetings, held under the strong impression of the television coverage of the pseudo Arabian spring, they called to use the momentum and to free themselves from the unjustified rule of France and the European Community (not less) together with anti-Jewish and anti Israeli slogans. When a French politician was asked to react to these events he said that he can understand the reasons for those attacks because of what is happening in Israel. Could not be clearer.
Also internal events are used to put the Jews of France on the line of fire. The French television broadcasted last week the events in Bet Shemesh. The interpretation given to the images will increase the hatred towards the Jews in France and probably also elsewhere in Europe. “This is a new area in antisemitism, we thought that the symptoms would be temporary. But it is clear now that this will last for a long time”, says Professor Trigano.
He also claims that the current antisemitic crisis in only a part of the Nationalist crisis in Europe and is also related to the economic crisis which in the future could ignite a new war of national identity in Western Europe. The estimations are that there are about 5 million Muslims in France but some claim that the numbers are higher, up to twice and three times as much.
“According to the law you can’t ask a citizen about his ethnicity. This plays into the hands of the Muslims. Their Christian neighbors, blue collar civilians, complain that the Muslims have stolen their jobs and therefore are responsible for the increase in unemployment rate. Muslim families get bigger, benefit from free health services, welfare payments – without working. There are many acts of fraud in this area and also in those cases they are blaming the Jews.”
Reaction of the French embassy in Israel
“The numbers about antisemitic incidents in France have been collected by Jewish organizations in cooperation with the French Interior Ministry. The numbers show that in 2010 there was a decline of 40% in antisemitics incidents compared to the previous year. The data for 2011 will be published in February 2011.
“The Israeli authorities and the Jewish organizations throughout the word praise the activities of France against antisemitism. Those activities are carried out by the French Police, the educational and judicial systems. This is a daily and continuous struggle concerning all French citizens.”