September 19, 2003

French Jews Are voting with

French Jews

Are voting with their feet and leaving France in significant numbers. Why? Incidents like these . Elsewhere, the Jewish community in France is described as being in a "post-traumatic" state. [All links to French language media]

Sample quote: "L'inquiŽtude est indŽniable. C'est mme le malaise le plus profond depuis la seconde guerre mondiale. Les juifs franais savent que l'option Isra‘l existe pour eux."

Translation: "The worry is undeniable. It's even the most profound malaise since WWII. French Jews know that the option of Israel exists for them."

Think the above is one of the reasons Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is threatening to expel some radical Islamic groups out of France?

There are upwards of 5 million Muslims in France and about 500,000 Jews. Given the presence of these two significant communities--I think Sarkozy has real concerns about outbreaks of inter-communitarian violence. Note that, in April of 2002 for instance, there were 110 separate anti-semitic incidents (that averages out to more than three incidents a day).

It's no coincidence, of course, that such attacks gained in number and intensity during a time when the IDF was pursuing muscular military action in the Occupied Territories. But, of course, there can be no excuses or valid rationales for inflicting harm on random Jews in France because of anger at the policies of the Israeli government.

On a related topic, note that there has been some talk in Europe of the phenomenon that some call the "new" anti-semitism. This latest manifestation of anti-semitism is couched in the rhetoric of progressivism (ie. opposition to racism, injustice, "colonial" policies and the like). A more subtle approach to anti-semitism than, say, these old libels. But the results can be just as poisonous.

I've lost track of how many in Europe have told me they view Israel as a racist, pariah state. As bad as the Nazis and so on. When the rhetoric is so hyperbolic, one can see how the movement from disagreement with Israel's policies towards anti-semitic thought and violence can occur pretty easily. And I think that's part of the reason that French Jews are so worried--to the extent that they consider moving to North America or Israel--despite living in a secure (at least to most), secular, European democracy.

UPDATE: Check out this interesting lecture too.

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