Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Music

France ‘Not So Pleasant’ for Jews: Leader

(JTA) — France’s flag has three stripes, and its motto promotes three values: liberty, equality and fraternity.

Now, its Jewish community — Europe’s largest — faces three threats, according to Roger Cukierman, president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish organizations and a vice president of the World Jewish Congress.

In an appearance at New York’s French consulate, Cukierman laid out the trio of challenges: an increasingly radicalized Muslim immigrant population that scapegoats Jews, the growing popularity of the far-right National Front party headed by Marine Le Pen, and widespread anti-Israel sentiment among French leftists.

“It’s not so pleasant living there as Jews in this period,” Cukierman said, adding that at a recent anti-government demonstration, “a crowd of 17,000 people was yelling, ‘Jews, France does not belong to you.’” (An audience member disputed his characterization later during a Q&A session, arguing that only about 500 demonstrators joined in the anti-Jewish chants.)

Forty percent of violent hate crimes in France target Jews, Cukierman said.

Another looming threat, he said, is Qatar’s enormous influence on the French economy.

“They’re in a position to influence French policy,” he said. “They haven’t yet, but it’s easy to envision they might in the future.”

Despite the challenges, the French government is standing by the country’s Jews, said Cukierman, noting approvingly that the country’s president recently publicly equated anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

A mix of French expats and American Jewish leaders filled the large, stately second-floor room, where Cukierman spoke, followed by Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Much of Hoenlein’s speech was laced with dramatic rhetoric, comparing anti-Semitism in France to a “tsunami,” describing Arab unrest as “the Arab volcano” and referring to anti-Semitism in Europe as a “cancer that has been allowed to grow.” He also referenced Hitler’s “big lie” and quoted the “in every generation, enemies arise to destroy us” line from the Haggadah.

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.