Antisemitism in 21st-century France
After World War II, antisemitism in France was vitriolic, especially during the Six-Day War and the anti-Zionist campaign of the 1970s and 1980s. These stereotypes were strongly accepted, following the successes achieved by the extreme right-wing Front national and an increasing denial of the Holocaust in the 1990s. At the same time, in the mid-1990s began the critical engagement with National Socialism, collaboration and the responsibility of the Vichy Regime.
At the beginning of the 21st century, antisemitism found new sources in the drifting of a certain type of leftism and in the identification of a significant proportion of the Muslim immigrant population with the Palestinian cause on the one hand and with radical Islamism on the other. A critical debate on the nature, as well as the denunciation of antisemitism linked to the situation in the Middle East (for example, the break out of the Second Intifada) and to Islam, led to divisions between anti-racist groups
The idea of a rise of antisemitism in 21st-century France has been challenged by sociologists like Nonna Mayer, Laurent Mucchielli and others who indicated that antisemitic opinions were in continuous decline in France since the end of the second world war and that other forms of racism were more widespread than antisemitism. This position was criticized by members of the French Jewish community.
By early 2014 the number of French Jews immigrating to Israel had overtaken the number of American Jews. At the same time 70 percent of French Jews were concerned about insults or harassment and 60% about physical aggression because of their Jewishness, both figures being much higher than the European average.
Extent of anti-Semitic acts
According to the annual reports on the fight against racism, antisemitism and xenophobia, conducted by the national human rights institution for France, the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (Commission nationale consultative des droits de l'homme, CNCDH), disturbing levels of antisemitic actions and threats recorded in France could be found in between 2002-2004, and in 2009. According to CNCDH, antisemitic actions are defined as homicides, attacks and attempted attacks, arson, degradations, and violence and assault and battery, while antisemitic threats are defined as covering speech acts, threatening gestures and insults, graffiti (inscriptions), pamphlets and emails.
|Antisemitic actions and
threats recorded in France
Another source of data can be found in the Criminal Affairs and Pardon Board at the Ministry of Justice (Direction des affaires criminelles et des graces, DACG), regarding the number of indictments pronounced in the calendar year in relation to racist, antisemitic and discriminatory offences:
|Indictments relating to offences relating to racism||Indictments relating principally to racist offences||Indictments relating exclusively to racist offences|
Public opinion surveys
According to the ADL opinion survey which was conducted in June 2002, 42 percent believed Jews were more loyal to Israel than their own country, 42 percent said Jews have too much power in the business world and 46 percent believed Jews talked too much about the Holocaust. According to Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director "These findings are especially disturbing because they show that the old, classical form of antisemitism, which we had hoped was long gone in Europe, continues to be resilient".
In 2004, the same opinion survey was conducted once again by the ADL. According to the report, 25 percent of the French public held antisemitic attitudes, down from 35 percent in 2002. 28 percent responded "probably true" to the statement, "Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own country", down from 42 percent in 2002. 15 percent responded "probably true" to the statement, "Jews don't care about anyone but their own kind", down from 20 percent.
In May 2005, the ADL has published an opinion survey regarding European attitudes toward Jews. The 2005 survey indicated that over that year there has been some decline in the acceptance of certain traditional antisemitic stereotypes in France. 25 percent responded "probably true" to the statement, "Jews have too much power in the business world", down from 33 percent in 2004, while 24 percent responded "probably true" to the statement "Jews have too much power in international financial markets", down from 29 percent in 2004.
Two years later, in May 2007, the ADL has published another opinion survey, which found that 22 percent of French respondents answered "probably true" to at least three of the four antisemitic stereotypes tested: Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country, Jews have too much power in the business world, Jews have too much power in international financial markets, Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust. According to the survey, there has been a significant shift in the opinions of respondents regarding the cause of violence directed against French Jews - from anti-Israel sentiment to anti-Jewish feelings instead.
According to the report, "Intolerance, Prejudice and Discrimination - A European Report", published by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) organization in 2011, anti-Semitic attitudes in France the same year, as a whole, are less widespread than the European average. According to a survey conducted by FES, 27.7 percent agreed with the statement "Jews have too much influence in France" and 25.8 percent agreed with the statement "Jews in general do not care about anything or anyone but their own kind" (implying disloyalty to the nation).
The following year, the ADL conducted an opinion survey in 10 European countries regarding antisemitic attitudes. According to the survey, the overall level of antisemitism in France increased to 24 percent of the population, up from to 20 percent in 2009 - 45 percent responded "probably true" to the statement, "Jews are more loyal to Israel" than their own country, up from 38 percent in 2009. 35 percent responded "probably true" to the statement, "Jews have too much power in the business world", up from 33 percent in 2009. 29 percent responded "probably true" to the statement "Jews have too much power in international financial markets", up from 27 percent in 2009. Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, has said regarding those findings: "In France, you have a volatile mix. France has seen an increase in the level of anti-Semitism. At the same time, more people today believe that violence directed against European Jews is fueled by anti-Jewish attitudes as opposed to anti-Israel sentiment. Those increases are all the more disturbing in light of the shooting attack at the Jewish school in Toulouse."
Selected acts of antisemitism
- May 9, 2014: A number of antisemitic scrawlings were found across the Alsace region in eastern France. Stars of David and the words « Juden Raus » were written on a car near the synagogue in Saint-Louis in southern Alsace. Other antisemitic graffiti was discovered in nearby Huninge as well as in Village-Neuf, both close to the German and Swiss borders.
- May 16, 2014: A dozen inscriptions were found in Toulouse including: "SS", "Hitler burned 6 million Jews and forgot half" and "Long live Palestine".
- May 25, 2014: Two Jewish brothers who were dressed in traditional Jewish clothing were attacked near a synagogue in Créteil. One of them suffered severe injuries to his eye. They were attacked by two men who were armed with brass knuckles.
- In July 2014, dozens of young men protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza (following the Operation Protective Edge) briefly besieged Don Isaac Abravanel Synagogue in Paris and clashed with security. Accroding to Serge Benhaïm, the president of the Don Isaac Abravanel Synagogue, noone inside the the building itself was attacked.
- July 20, 2014 anti-Semitic rioting in Sarcelles, a suburb of Paris. In November a 27-year-old man was convicted of arson for having deliberately set fire to a kosher grocery store.
- During November, 2013, a new phenomenon had spread. Fans of the antisemitic comedian Dieudonné responded to his request and started to get pictures of themselves making the 'quenelle salute', a backwards Nazi salute, next to Jewish or Israeli places, Or even next to group of Jews.
- On September 16, 2013, a 20-year-old French national of Moroccan origin called Ohr Hatorah school in Toulouse and told a secretary, “I am Mohammed Merah’s cousin and I’m coming over tonight to kill you.” That threat was not the first one of this youngster, and he was arrested.
- On September 10, 2013, France’s ultranationalist National Front party suspended one of its municipal candidates, Francois Chatelain of Neuville-en-Ferrain, for posting anti-Israel photos and anti-Semitic statements.
- On September 13, 2013, in Paris a group of Jewish boys were attacked by a gang of teenagers who called them “dirty Jews” and said “Hitler didn’t finish the job.”
- April 23, 2013 - Paris - A rabbi and his son were stabbed near the Beth-El synagogue by an Iranian man who had recently escaped a psychiatric hospital. The attacker stabbed the rabbi in the neck causing light injuries, while the rabbi's son was lightly cut when he came to his defense.
- March 12, 2013 - Lyon - A fake bomb was found near the Hillel Center, a Jewish institution in the city.
- January 3, 2013 - Toulouse - Anti-Semitic slogans, including a swastika alongside the words "SS" and "get the f*** out", were graffitied on a local chapter of the Paris Psychoanalytical Society. The incident occurred less than a year after a terrorist killed a rabbi and three students at a Jewish school in the city.
- October 9, 2012 – Avignon – The plaque at the entrance to the Jewish cemetery was smashed.
- September 19, 2012 – Sarcelles – A firebomb was thrown into a Kosher supermarket by two masked assailants, causing at least one injury.
- August 7, 2012 – Paris – A 17 year-old Jewish girl was severely beaten and insulted with antisemitic remarks by an 18 year-old Arab girl in a Paris suburb.
- July 20, 2012 – Paris – A synagogue was desecrated for the third time in 10 days.
- July 5, 2012 – Toulouse – A 17-year-old student of the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school was assaulted on a train going from Toulouse to Lyon.
- June 2, 2012 – Lyon – Three Jewish youth wearing skullcaps were assaulted while walking to a Jewish school for Shabbat services.
- March 26, 2012 – Paris – A 12-year-old Jewish boy was beaten outside the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Paris by youths reciting antisemitic slogans.
- March 19, 2012 – Toulouse – Four Jews were shot and killed at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school by an armed terrorist on a motorcycle, later identified by authorities as Mohammed Merah.
- June 18, 2011 – Villeurbane – A 21-year-old identifiably Jewish man was assaulted in a suburb of Lyon.
- May 7, 2011 – Marseille – An 11-year-old Jewish girl on her way to a synagogue was accosted by a teenager who demanded to know if she was Jewish.
- May 7, 2011 – Marseille – Three Jewish boys were beaten during a soccer match by a dozen attackers, who shouted “dirty Jews etc'".
- May 7, 2011 – Nancy – A Jewish school was vandalized with antisemitic slogans.
- April 7, 2011 – Lyon – A 21-year-old Jewish student was shot four times with a pellet gun in an attack involving two unidentified assailants, after the victim confirmed he was Jewish.
- March 19, 2011 - Garges-lès-Gonesse – A rock was thrown through a window of a synagogue during an evening Purim celebration.
- March 17, 2011 – Pont de Heruy – A 15-year-old Jewish boy was beaten by a group of about a dozen teenagers, while yelling antisemitic insults.
- October 3, 2010 – Strasbourg – Swastikas and antisemitic graffiti were painted on the house of a Jewish doctor.
- September 13, 2010 – Toulouse – A synagogue in a suburb of Toulouse was burglarized and “dirty Jews” was written on the ark housing the Torahs.
- August 24, 2010 – Paris – An anonymous letter with a death threat and nine bullets was sent to the synagogue in Drancy.
- August 3, 2010 – Marmande – A Holocaust memorial in the town of Marmande, near Bordeaux, was vandalized.
- July 29, 2010 – Paris - Swastikas were spray-painted on several kosher shops and a Jewish school in the center of Paris.
- July 21, 2010 – Wolfisheim – Twenty-seven graves were desecrated at a Jewish cemetery near Strasbourg.
- June 13, 2010 – Nice – A group of young men of North African descent threw rocks at a Chabad rabbi while shouting, “Jew murderers”.
- June 4, 2010 – Paris – Five students, ages 14 to 21, were subjected to antisemitic taunts and threats at a subway station in the Paris suburb of Brunoy.
- June 7, 2010 – Metz – A Molotov cocktail was thrown at a Jewish elder care home; no damage was reported.
- June 6, 2010 – Nice – A rabbi was insulted on the street and rocks were thrown at him, injuring his leg.
- March 18, 2010 – Marseille – “Jews are whores” was spray-painted on the Ohel Yaacov synagogue.
- January 26, 2010 - Strasbourg – Swastikas and antisemitic phrases were painted on more than 30 headstones in a local Jewish cemetery.
- September 8, 2009 – Marseille – A local Jewish school was attacked by vandals who threw aerosol cans soaked with flammable liquid at the school building.
- July 1, 2009 – Lannion – Many residents received leaflets containing antisemitic language in their mailboxes.
- April 11, 2009 – Drancy – A five-foot black swastika and several antisemitic slogans were painted on a railway wagon that was used to deport French Jews.
- March 9, 2009 - Créteil - An 18 year old Jewish youth, wearing a yarmulke, was attacked by three strangers on his way to synagogue for Purim.
- January 24, 2009 - Paris - A kosher supermarket’s warehouse was firebombed.
- January 17, 2009 - Créteil - Two 16-year-old Jews were beaten in front of a kosher restaurant by a gang that shouted “Palestine will win, dirty Jews!”.
- January 17, 2009 - Hayangue - A Molotov cocktail was thrown at a synagogue and burned the door.
- January 15, 2009 - Villeneuve-Saint-Georges - A synagogue in a small town southeast of Paris was firebombed.
- January 13, 2009 - Lille - A swastika and the letters “ZOG”(Zionist Occupied Government) were painted on a synagogue.
- January 11, 2009 - Paris - Molotov cocktails were thrown at a synagogue in Saint Denis, a northern suburb of Paris.
- January 8, 2009 - Nice - “Death to Jews” was spray-painted outside a primary school in Nice.
- January 5, 2009 - Toulouse - A burning car with a Molotov cocktail was rammed into the door of a synagogue while a rabbi was giving a class inside.
- January 1, 2009 - Bordeaux - Two kosher food shops were vandalized.
- December 27, 2008 - Villeurbanne - A Jewish student wearing a yarmulke was walking with his fiancée in the town center, when they were attacked from behind by three youths.
- September 6, 2008 – Paris – Three identifiably Jewish teenage boys were attacked by a group of youths near a local B'nei Akiva office.
- August 19, 2008 – Marseille – A 67-year-old shop owner was attacked with by a knife-wielding man, who called him a “dirty Jew”.
- June 10–11, 2008 – Paris – A marble plaque memorializing the deportation of 90 Jewish children to Nazi death camps during the Holocaust was vandalized and broken beyond repair.
- February 8, 2008 – Amiens – Three policemen were suspended after making Nazi salutes and shouting antisemitic and white supremacist slogans in a local bar.
- August 9, 2007 - Noisy-le-Grand - A 23-year-old Jewish woman was attacked by two youths who beat her and shouted antisemitic remarks.
- July 27, 2007 - Paris - A 23-year-old man wearing traditional Jewish Orthodox clothing was violently attacked while on his way to a synagogue with his brother-in-law and three year old son.
- April 26, 2007 - Marseille - A 22-year-old Jewish woman was attacked by two men of Middle Eastern appearance in the parking lot of a train station in Marseilles's La Rose neighborhood.
- April 19, 2007 – Paris – A rabbi was insulted and beaten at a Paris train station.
- April 1, 2007 – Lille – Vandals damaged more than fifty tombs in the Jewish section of a cemetery in Lille in northern France.
- November 8, 2006 – Gagny – Unknown arsonists set fire to the ground floor of the Merkaz Hatorah Jewish school in a northern suburb of Paris.
- September 13, 2006 - Paris – After identifying him as Jewish, four students attacked a 13-year-old boy in his suburban middle school.
- August 2, 2006 – Saint-Quentin[disambiguation needed] – A synagogue was vandalized.
- May 28, 2006 – Paris – Members of a black extremist group marched through a Jewish quarter in central Paris shouting antisemitic slogans.
- March 6, 2006 – Lyon – A Jewish pupil was attacked by four youths.
- March 4, 2006 – Sarcelles – A 28-year-old Jewish man was beaten by youths who made antisemitic remarks during the assault.
- March 3, 2006 – Sarcelles – A 17-year-old Jewish man, the son of a local rabbi, was attacked by two men.
- January 9, 2006 – Créteil – Two Jewish boys wearing yarmulkes were attacked in front of a train station in Créteil, a Paris suburb.
- January 7, 2006 – Sarcelles – A synagogue was vandalized, with the words “Juden raus” (“Jews get out”) and “Death to Sharon” etched into the roof.
- July 19, 2005 - Sarcelles - A young Jewish man was assaulted and then called a “dirty Jew” by an unidentified group of men.
- July 14, 2005 - Stains - A Molotov cocktail was thrown at the entrance of a synagogue in Stains.
- May 9, 2005 – Sarreguemines - Vandals toppled and smashed dozens of tombstones at a Jewish cemetery in eastern France.
- April 16, 2005 – Avignon - A Jewish cemetery in Avignon, Southern France was vandalized.
- March 29, 2005 - Paris – Two homemade bombs were thrown at a Jewish-owned pastry shop in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles.
- October 29/30, 2004 - Brumath - Close to 100 gravestones were desecrated at a Jewish cemetery in Brumath.
- August 14, 2004 - Paris – Antisemitic graffiti was found scrawled on a wall on the grounds of Notre Dame Cathedral.
- August 9, 2004 - Lyon – Some 60 gravestones were vandalized with swastikas in a Jewish cemetery in Lyon in southeastern France.
- July 28, 2004 – Saverne – Thirty-two tombstones were vandalized in a Jewish cemetery in the Alsatian town of Saverne.
- May 30, 2004 – Boulogne-Billancourt – A 17-year-old Jewish youth was attacked outside his home in a Paris suburb by a group of young men yelling antisemitic slogans.
- May 7, 2004 - Villier-le-Bel – A small explosive device was discovered outside a synagogue north of Paris.
- May 6/7, 2004 - Verdun - A memorial to Jewish soldiers who died in the Battle of Verdun was vandalized.
- April 29/30, 2004 – Colmar - A Jewish cemetery in the Alsace region in eastern France was vandalized.
- April 4, 2004 - Valenciennes – A synagogue in northern France was defaced with neo-Nazi slogans.
- March 23, 2004 – Toulon – A Jewish synagogue and community center was set on fire.
- January 20, 2004 - Strasbourg - A group of assailants hurled stones at the door of a Strasbourg synagogue.
- January 20, 2004 - Paris - A Jewish teenager was injured in an attack by Muslim youths at an ice-skating rink.
- November 24, 2003 - Marseille - Swastikas and racist slogans were scrawled on about a dozen tombs in the Jewish cemetery of Trois Lucs.
- October 17, 2003 - Paris - A rabbi was verbally attacked and physically assaulted in a Paris suburb.
- July 25, 2003 – Paris – A synagogue in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis was ransacked and desecrated with antisemitic graffiti.
- July 20, 2003 – Vénissieux – Two plaques at a Holocaust memorial were defaced and broken.
- March 22, 2003 – Paris – A number of Jews, including teenagers, were chased and attacked by anti-war protesters outside the headquarters of a Jewish youth organization.
- December 4, 2002 – Périgueux – Vandals ransacked a synagogue in southwestern France.
- April 28, 2002 - Sarcelles - A Jewish day school in the suburbs of Paris, was set on fire.
- April 14, 2002 - Paris - A Molotov cocktail was thrown inside the apartment of a Jewish family.
- April 12, 2002 - Cronenbourg - The Jewish cemetery was vandalized with anti-Jewish graffiti and pictures of swastikas.
- April 10, 2002 - Paris - A school bus transporting children from the Jewish school was pelted with stones while students were boarding the bus.
- April 9, 2002 - Paris - The Orthodox synagogue Garges-les-Gonesses was set on fire.
- April 3, 2002 - Paris - Stones were thrown at worshippers at the Épinay Sous Senart synagogue as they were leaving the building.
- April 2, 2002 - Paris - Antisemitic graffiti was found on Otzar HaTorah synagogue.
- March 31, 2002 - Toulouse - Two shots were fired into the window of a kosher butcher shop.
- March 31, 2002 - Villeurbanne - A Jewish couple was attacked in this suburb of Lyon.
- March 29, 2002 - Two stolen cars rammed into a synagogue in Lyon by masked youth , one of the vehicles then set afire.
- January 30, 2002 - Avignon, Vaucluse - Antisemitic graffiti and swastikas were painted on the front of the synagogue in Avignon.
- January 25, 2002 - La Courneuve, Seine-Saint-Denis - A school bus transporting sixty children from the Jewish Chné Or d'Aubervilliers school was attacked by a group of youths.
Responses to antisemitism and racism
- In December 2013, six members of the French Jewish Defense league were arrested by French police for carrying out physical assaults against suspected anti-Semites in Lyon and Villeurbanne.
- In October 2013, Alexis Dubruel, a lawyer from eastern France, was disbarred by the French Bar Association after filing a motion to disqualify judge Albert Levy from presiding over a custody case due to his Jewish origins. In another case, a Paris court sentenced blogger who had been convicted for posting material inciting discrimination and violence against Jews to eight months in prison and a $670 fine, and ordered him to pay $2,000 in damages to people he targeted.
- In August 2012, members of the French Jewish Defense League attacked and beat a group of Arab men they suspected of perpetrating an anti-semitic attack the previous day.
- In November 2007, dismissed teacher Vincent Reynouard was sentenced to one year imprisonment and fined 10,000 euro for denying the Holocaust.
- On 26 October 2007, the district attorney of Paris imposed on Kemi Seba, founder of the banned Tribu KA, a sentence of five months in prison, a fine of 10,000 euro and the forfeiting of his civic rights for five years, for inciting racial hatred and denying crimes against humanity.
- On 21 March 2006, in a report submitted to Prime Minister de Villepin, the Commission nationale consultative des droits de lhomme (CNCDH), recommended measures to fight antisemitism.
- On 10 March a Paris court fined the comedian Dieudonné MBala MBala 5,000 euro for antisemitic comments.
- In November 2006, a Lyon court fined Bruno Gollnisch, second in command of the FN, 10,000 euro for questioning the existence of the Holocaust.
- On 15 January 2006, a French court fined Yahoo $15 million for selling Nazi memorabilia.
- In November 2005, the Foundation for Shoah Remembrance distributed a DVD about the Holocaust to 28,000 high school students, teachers and libraries in the Paris area.
- On 13 June 2005, Judge Emmanuel Binoche ruled that Internet service providers must filter access to the AAARGH (Association of Veteran Fans of Stories of War and Holocausts) which disseminates Holocaust denial.
- On 10 February 2005, the French Broadcasting Authority ordered the French satellite provider Eutelsat to stop transmitting broadcasts from the Iranian satellite TV channel Sahar 1, following screening of antisemitic content.
- On 13 December 2004 the Council of State, banned Hizballah’s al-Manar transmissions on the grounds that some of its programs were antisemitic.
- In July 2004, the Minister for Social Affairs asked the secretary general of the High Council for Integration, to evaluate government policy on the subject of combating antisemitism and to submit proposals.
- In June 2003, an appeals court in Lyon upheld editor Jean Plantin’s 6-month prison sentence, for publishing works doubting the scope of the Holocaust.
- In March 2003, A conference of Catholics and Jews took place in Paris to discuss antisemitism in Europe and the place of religion in the proposed EU constitution.
- In 2003, 19 people were arrested and 5 search warrants were issued against non-identified individuals, in connection with antisemitic offenses.
- On 12 April 2003, 3 students, one French, one Dutch and one Tunisian, were arrested for incitement to racial hatred and antisemitism.
- In August 2002, the government outlawed the rightist group Radical Unity.
- In February 2002, French Minister of Education Jack Lang set up a commission to examine Holocaust denial at the University of Lyon III.
- In 2001, the Ligue de Défense Juive, a French offshoot of the American Jewish Defense League, was formed, receiving considerable media attention.
- In 2001, The French anti-racism group, Action internationale pour la justice (AIPJ, another name for J’Accuse) sought a court injunction to block a Nazi US web portal Front 14, which groups some 400 racist websites.
- In 2000, the FN split resulted in diminished activity by the main anti-fascist organizations.
- In 2000, LICRA (Ligue internationale contre le racisme et l’antisémitisme), focused mainly on combating hate on the Internet and has set up branches abroad.
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