Wave of Antisemitic Crime Continues To Rise in France

By Marc Perelman

Published April 04, 2003, issue of April 04, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Violent hate crimes in France quadrupled in 2002 over the year before, rising to their highest level in a decade, according to a new report by the National Consulting Committee on Human Rights. More than half the assaults were aimed at Jews.

A string of incidents have taken place in recent days, most notably the burning of a synagogue outside Paris and an assault on two young members of the left-wing Zionist youth group Hashomer Hatzair, who were attacked by Muslims during an antiwar protest in the capital last week.

The incidents appear to confirm predictions by Jewish communal leaders that the war in Iraq would unleash a new wave of antisemitic attacks.

Contrary to communal leaders’ predictions, however, there is little indication of a drop in antisemitic incidents following the inauguration of a right-wing government in April 2002. The new report suggests opposite was the case.

Several observers said the unexpected rise could be explained by a more rigorous tallying of incidents by the authorities. Jewish organizations had accused the previous left-wing government of downplaying the number of incidents. It appeared that the new government, by casting a wider net, might be signaling its willingness to tackle the problem, the observers said.

French officials voiced concerns that the surge and the recent incidents indicated the Middle East violence was now spilling over directly into France, which has the largest Jewish and Muslim communities in Western Europe.

According to the report, assailants carried out 313 acts of racially and religiously motivated violence last year, compared with 71 in 2001.

The human rights committee said 193 of the 313 attacks were against Jews, representing a “real explosion” of antisemitic violence. During the previous year, the group reported 32 acts of anti-Jewish violence.

The report said France’s large North African Arab community has also been targeted.

Of 47 attacks against Arabs, 25 were attributed to the extreme right. One person of North African origin was killed, the only death cited in the report.

The antiwar demonstration during which the two young Jewish leftists were assaulted was attended by several leaders of mainstream French political parties, including former Socialist prime minister Laurent Fabius, a Green Party presidential candidate, Noel Mamere, and Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande.

Although the Hashomer Hatzair attack was filmed by a camera crew, the event got little coverage in the mainstream press and it took more than two full days for organizers of the demonstration to condemn it, following a visit by Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe to the Hashomer Hatzair office.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy recently told Roger Cukierman, president of CRIF, the umbrella organization of secular French Jewry, that the police would take extra measures to protect Jewish institutions.

After the incidents, Sarkozy said France “could not accept this kind of behavior.” Speaking on behalf of the government, he expressed anger at “an inadmissible and scandalous attack” and said the protesters were targeted “simply because they were Jewish.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.