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France has to wake up against antisemitism

Statistics show antisemitism is on the rise in France and the EU. There is not time to deny this hard truth.

A demonstration against antisemitism is planned for tomorrow in France, where around half a million of Jews live, after the interior ministry unveiled a sad figure. Anti-Jewish acts have seen a sharp rise in democratic France: +74% in 2018. In Poland and Germany, attacks, hostile graffiti and vandalism are also on the rise.

On february the 16th, during a Yellow vests demonstration, a French writer, Alain Finkelkraut, was verbally attacked in Paris by activists of the movement.  A son of Polish immigrants, he is a controversial but respected philosopher, and a member of the French Academy. “He is a symbol of what the Republic permits to everyone to become” French president Emmanuel Macron said.

Images depicting former President of the European Parliament Simone Veil were previously tainted with a swastika.

In Paris, racist tags are regularly painted during the night: on the building of Le Monde newspaper, or on restaurants.

Most political parties joined forces together to condemn this revival of hate crimes. Those missing were the extreme-right and extreme-left, who didn’t join the initiative, some of them denying anything is happening. The extreme left suggested Finkelkraut being asked to get back to Israel was not antisemitism.

Denial is a danger in itself

Denial however is the main danger here. Blindness is what allowed Hitler to kill more than 5 millions of Jews, when Europeans refused to see the persecutions.

Now we do have facts and data, as the one compiled by interior ministry.

According to a dedicated opinion poll conducted by the European Commission, every second European thinks that antisemitism is a problem in its country, and every third thinks it’s growing.

The perception is most acute in Sweden, France and Germany. In France, 80% of respondents consider Jews in the street and Jewish building at risk of hostility. The most common offenses are anti-Semitic graffiti and vandalism, as well as profaning Jewish cemeteries.

And among Jews, the perception is even more worrying, as most of them feel endangered according to a report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights published last December. A third of European Jews interviewed say they have been harassed, and some of them even fear showing religious sign or going to Jewish places.

So let’s not waste time to debate what is obvious: antisemitism is rising in 2019 France. “It’s a symptom before a collapse” warns rabbi Delphine Horvilleur. And it has to be fought as a real attack : as hard as possible.

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