— Hug O’ The Day (@hugotheday) January 9, 2015
Noah Rayman discusses how last week’s attack on the Hyper Cacher supermarket is affecting Jewish communities in France:
The assault on the Kosher supermarket shook the Jewish community in France and abroad. As dual hostage situations unfolded, police ordered the closure of all shops in the tourist-filled Jewish neighborhood in central Paris, far from the supermarket under siege in the city’s east, according to the Associated Press. And ahead of the Sabbath Friday evening, the iconic Grand Synagogue of Paris was closed, USA Today reported.
The Jewish community in France, numbering more than 400,000, had already been on guard after an uptick in anti-Semitic violence in recent years, including the shooting of four people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in May 2014, allegedly by a French Muslim man. After the attack on Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, Jewish institutions were on maximum alert, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported. Volunteers joined police deployed by the French authorities to secure schools and religious sites.
Elliot Abrams wonders why there isn’t more sympathy for the Jewish victims:
Terrorism against French Jews is not new. In 2012 a terrorist murdered three schoolchildren and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse. There was no million-citizen march.
And suppose that last week’s terror attack in Paris had not aimed at Charlie Hebdo, but “only” killed four Jews–or eight or twelve, for that matter. Does anyone believe a million French citizens would be marching in Paris, with scores of world leaders joining them?
One is reminded of the synagogue bombing on Rue Copernic in Paris in 1980, after which Prime Minister Raymond Barre publicly declared that “A bomb set for Jews killed four innocent Frenchmen.” That shocking lack of solidarity– that definition of Frenchmen to exclude the Jews – does not seem to have been cured, and the French today appear to feel more solidarity with the journalists who were killed than with the Jews who were killed.
But Jeffrey Goldberg observes that the current French leadership has been taking the issue of anti-semitism seriously:
[French Prime Minister Manuel] Valls, who on Saturday declared that France was now at war with radical Islam, has become a hero to his country’s besieged Jews for speaking bluntly about the threat of Islamist anti-Semitism, a subject often discussed in euphemistic terms by the country’s political and intellectual elite. His fight, as interior minister, to ban performances of the anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonne (the innovator of the inverted Nazi salute known as the quenelle) endeared him to the country’s Jewish leadership, and he is almost alone on the European left in calling anti-Zionism a form of anti-Semitism.
“There is a new anti-Semitism in France,” he told me. “We have the old anti-Semitism, and I’m obviously not downplaying it, that comes from the extreme right, but this new anti-Semitism comes from the difficult neighborhoods, from immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, who have turned anger about Gaza into something very dangerous. Israel and Palestine are just a pretext. There is something far more profound taking place now.”
And Adam Taylor holds out the #JeSuisJuif solidarity campaign on Twitter as evidence that the world isn’t ignoring those victims, though anti-semitism remains a real problem in France:
#JeSuisJuif began to trend after news spread about hostages being taken at the grocery store, which is called Hyper Cacher, or Hyper Kosher, in Porte de Vincennes. The attack took place at the start of the Jewish Sabbath, when the store was busy, and there were fears that other Jewish businesses in the area could be targets. Later, French President Francois Hollande described the hostage taking as an “anti-Semitic attack”
The attack comes at a fraught time for France’s Jewish community. Many French Jews have perceived a rise in anti-Semitism in the country in recent years. Reports of violence against Jews skyrocketed at the start of 2014, and things became worse over summer as a conflict in Gaza prompted anti-Israel protests that blurred the line with anti-Semitism. One survey by the New York-based Anti-Defamation League estimated that 37 percent of French people openly held anti-Semitic views – the highest number in Europe.