By Joseph Puder, January 16, 2015
Almost two years ago (March 27, 2014) a Front Page Magazine article by this writer asked the question, ‘Is France Safe for Jews?’ The answer today, more than ever is a decisive no. Immediately following the murder of Rabbi Yonatan Sandler (30), his two small children, Aryeh 3 and Gavriel 6, as well as Miriam Monsonego, 8, outside the Ozer Ha’Torah School in Toulouse, France, the French government of President Nicolas Sarkozy was determined to “fight” the anti-Semitic terror emanating from Muslim Jihadists. Sarkozy declared “We shall not back down in the face of terror,” as he went about announcing a minute of silence in all French schools. Sarkozy said, “You cannot murder children like this on the territory of the Republic without being held accountable. Today is a day of national tragedy.”
Sarkozy, on the eve of the 2012 French presidential elections, declared that he was putting the southwestern Midi-Pyrenees region (where Toulouse is located) on its highest alert level, and promised that “This odious act cannot remain unpunished. All means, absolutely all means available, will be committed to neutralize this criminal.” François Hollande, who subsequently won the presidential election under the banner of his Socialist Party called for France to unite after the shooting. He pledged, “We must do everything to ensure that acts of anti-Semitism or racism are met with a firm and common response from the whole Republic.”
Jeffrey Goldberg, of The Atlantic magazine, who interviewed Manuel Valls, France’s current Prime Minister, prior to the latest terrorist attacks, argued that not only the physical safety of Jews in France is imperiled by anti-Semitic violence, but the very idea of the French Republic. Valls told Goldberg that, “If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore. But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.”
PM Valls admitted that anti-Semitic violence in France exists. Former French president Jacque Chirac, on the other hand said on March 1, 2002, that “I would like to say clearly there is no upsurge in anti-Semitism in France.” Similar assurances have been made by his successor Nickolas Sarkozy. And while PM Valls declared that France was at war with radical Islam, and suggested that, “Israel and Palestine are just pretext” for anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish violence, he added that, “There is something far more profound taking place now.” President Hollande also echoed his PM, saying, “It is indeed an appalling anti-Semitic act that was committed.”
This week President Hollande called once again for unity in the face of a Jihadist Muslim terror spree that murdered 17 people, including 4 Jews in a Parisian Kosher supermarket, buying groceries for Sabbath. Among the murdered were also 12 staff members of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, as well as a policewoman.
A solidarity march in Paris last week brought out over one million people and 40 world leaders including Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel, Britain’s David Cameron, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the rather oddity of Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, itself a full-fledged terrorist organization. A visible absentee from the solidarity march was U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama. The 1.2 million Paris marchers on Sunday (January 11, 2015) called for free speech, and carried placards with the words ‘Je Suis Charlie,’ and ‘we are not afraid,’ President Hollande boasted that, “Paris is today the capital of the world. Our entire country will rise up and show its best side.” Marches alone will not however, end Islamist terror on French soil or elsewhere in the world. For the Jews of France the actions perpetrated against them and the words uttered by the French leaders gave the feeling of déjà vu.
The Jewish victims of the latest terror outrage on French soil, at the Paris Hyper Cacher (Kosher) supermarket were Yohan Cohen (22), Philippe Braham (40), Francois-Michel Saada (64) and Yoav Hattab (21). They were buried with full honors in Jerusalem, Israel, and thousands of former French Jews and native Israelis attended. In French Jewish communities conversations evolved around whether it is safe to live and raise a family in France.
Wall Street Journal reporter in Paris, Ruth Bender, got these reactions from Parisian Jews (January 13, 2015), “I feel like packing my bags and leaving” said 48-year old Delphine Sultan, “And yet, I love France and I would miss it terribly.” Her sister Laurence Sebag, 46, said, “I have always felt French, but today I am beginning to think that the future of French Jews is at risk.” Lydia Layani, 62, opined that, “It’s not normal in a republic like ours to need police to protect our schools and have to tell our children not to wear their yarmulke in the streets. She added, “I don’t want to leave France, but I feel sick to my stomach.”
Interviewed by Israel’s Channel 10-TV, Yohan Dumas, a survivor of the Paris Hyper Cacher supermarket, described how he was hidden in the cold-room trying to stay warm, and then in mid-interview he announced that he decided to move to Israel at the start of next week. Albert Levy, 60, who migrated from France to Israel a few years ago, explained his decision to move to Israel, saying, “The time of Jews in Europe is over.”Levy blamed the French media for the current atmosphere and he pointed out that the media tended to demonize Israel in recent years in the wake of events ranging from the First Gulf War to the Second Intifada.
In 2014, 7,000 French Jews immigrated to Israel, double the number of the previous year. In 2013, 20,000 French Jews formally applied to the Jewish Agency in Paris for aliyah (emigration to Israel) and more than 3,000 completed the emigration process, twice as many as in 2012. France has now become the primary aliyah source to Israel.
France’s multicultural ethos, and continued Muslim immigration is transforming France in many ways. The future for Jews looks even bleaker as thousands of French Muslim jihadi fighters in the ranks of the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda return from Iraq and Syria to continue their war against the French infidels, and Jews in particular. Shimon Samuels, the Paris Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center summed up the situation in France. He said, “A culture of excuse exonerates the perpetrators as ‘disaffected, frustrated, and unemployed.’ No other group of frustrated unemployed has resorted to such behavior. Until politicians (in France) and the media define the problem as jihadism remote-controlled from mosques in France, and not only the Middle East, the cancer will not be isolated and destroyed.”
The truth is, nevertheless, that as long as Israel is vilified in the French media, abused in academia, and betrayed by the French government, anti-Semitism will not abate, and Jews will continue to be vulnerable targets to such despicable attacks as the one of last Friday at the kosher supermarket. And as long as radical Muslims in France are not dealt with in the severest way, violence against Jews will continue and France will not be safe for Jews.