by Judith Bergman
A recent poll and report on French anti-Semitism paint a gloomy picture, and the prospects for 2016 are bleak.
In France, it is not just anti-Semitism from Muslim North Africans and Arabs from the Middle East that is haunting the Jewish community. In a recent poll, conducted over 18 months by Ipsos and sponsored by the French Judaism Foundation, the "native" French showed that they are still as anti-Semitic as ever.
Fifty-six percent of the French believe that Jews "have a lot of power," and 40% said that Jews are "a little too present in the media." Thirteen percent believe that there are too many Jews in France, whereas an unbelievable 60% believe that Jews are at least partly to blame themselves for the rise in anti-Semitism, with 91% saying that Jews "are very insular."
Nevertheless, despite this obvious hatred, only 4% of the French consider the Jews "problematic." In contrast, 26% of the French said that Muslims were problematic. This is not so surprising. French Jews mind their own business, contribute tremendously to society in every possible way, and do not commit violent crimes or terrorism. This has not, however, stopped the French from hating the Jews.
In 2015, 808 anti-Semitic attacks were reported to the police according to a report by French Jewish watchdog Jewish Community Security Service (SPCJ), with statistics supplied by the French Interior Ministry. That represents a 5% drop from 2014, but one would be deceived to think this means that anti-Semitism is on the wane in France.
As pointed out by the SPCJ, for the first time, anti-Semitism in France reached an extremely high level independent of any armed conflict in the Middle East. The high number in 2014 was partly caused by the effect of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in the summer of 2014. As SPCJ pointed out, anti-Semitism in France in 2015 was entirely endogenous and capable of reaching unprecedented heights without any outside impetus.
In 2015, Jews were the targets of 40% of all racist acts and 49% of violent racist acts committed in France, though they comprise less than 1% of the total population. Those are monstrous statistics, which display the failure of French authorities to protect the Jews.
On average, two anti-Semitic acts were registered by the police each day, and this does not represent the full extent of anti-Semitic acts, since, as SPCJ points out, numerous testimonies from victims show their reluctance to even file complaints for anti-Semitic insults, threats or violence. Far from having experienced a 5% fall from 2014, it is much more likely that the number of anti-Semitic acts went up from 2014.
The report by the SPCJ highlights that many French Jews no longer understand their role or place in France, and they feel unease even beyond the question of physical security. Nearly 8,000 Jews left France in 2015, a 10% increase from the previous year. According to various polls, between half and three-quarters of all French Jews are considering leaving.
Prospects for 2016 are bleak. The year barely started and already a new record was made: In January, a machete attack on a Jewish man in Marseilles by a 15-year old teenager, which sparked the so-called "kippah debate," about whether Jews should stop wearing kippot in public. As the SPCJ pointed out, this debate completely missed the mark by debating the Jewish response rather than the causes for this extreme spike in violence against Jews. Also in January, French Jewish politician Alain Ghozland, a prominent leader of the Jewish community, was stabbed to death in his apartment in a possible anti-Semitic attack, which remains unresolved, although two suspects have been apprehended in a Paris suburb.
The SPCJ is aware of the bleak prospects, including the lack of proper protection from official France, when it proposes the following:
"Let us learn to identify a suspicious individual in a familiar environment; learn the right reactions in case of an attack; learn to give a proper alarm to the police or assist the victim of an attack. Let us learn new and necessary reactions. This is the way to be legitimately reassured. It is an individual and a collective decision to learn how to face danger and protect ourselves as much as we can. We are all trained and aware of what to do in case of fire. Now that France is shaken by terror attacks and renewed threats, isn't it time we learned and mastered preventive actions against terrorism?"
The question is, will such training be enough? I think we all know the answer.
Judith Bergman is a writer and political analyst living in Israel.Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=15163
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