An umbrella group of Jewish groups sought assurances recently from French President Nicolas Sarkozy that authorities would do more to stem a rise in anti-Jewish crime, which has increased following the war in the Gaza strip.

Some 100 acts targeting Jews were reported in France since Israel launched Operation Cast Lead against Gaza’s Hamas Islamist rulers in late December, said the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France. “We expressed our worries to the president,” Richard Prasquier, who heads the body, told reporters. “The president assured us of the attention he was giving to these acts. He told us that he would do more to find a solution to this problem.”

The group said aggression against Jews had picked up markedly over the past month compared with 2007, when some 250 acts targeting Jews were recorded.

“These acts are the manifestation of very deeply engrained anti-Semitism in a portion of the population and particularly among the youth in our country,” said Prasquier.

Photo (AP): French synagogue attacked

Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie recently met leaders of France’s Jewish and Muslim communities and security chiefs to deliver a message that the Gaza conflict – which ended in a shaky ceasefire – should not lead to violent acts in France.

In recent years, flare-ups between Israel and the Palestinians have been followed by acts of violence against Jewish people or buildings in France, home to Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim communities.

Earlier in January, attackers launched two cars packed with petrol bombs at a synagogue in France’s southwestern city of Toulouse, causing damage but no casualties.

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