Amid mounting protests in Europe against the Gaza conflict, political
and religious leaders in the region have sharply denounced anti-Semitism within
“Anti-Semitic rhetoric and hostility against Jews, attacks on people
of Jewish belief and synagogues have no place in our societies,” the foreign
ministers of France, Germany and Italy said in a statement on July 22 from
Fears of escalating unrest are perhaps sharpest in France, home to
Europe’s largest populations of Jews and Muslims. Many have roots in North
Africa, and violence in the Middle East resonates strongly here. Thousands
defied a government ban against Paris-area protests over the weekend, staging
pro-Palestinian rallies that degenerated into violence.
“We have had eight synagogues attacked. We have had shops attacked,”
said Roger Cukierman, head of the Representative Council of French Jewish
Institutions. “We have heard crowds shouting death to the Jews — not death to
Muslim and Catholic leaders also denounced the violence at an
interfaith ceremony on July 21 in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, where a
synagogue and Jewish businesses were attacked.
France’s government has cracked down, arresting dozens in recent days
and vowing a zero-tolerance policy toward anti-Semitism.
French authorities also warn that extremist groups are trying to
capitalize on public anger over Gaza, at a time of growing alarm over French
youths joining conflicts in Iraq and Syria.
events in the Middle East, France also remains haunted by its World War II past
— memories that resurfaced last weekend, as the country commemorated the 1942
rounding up and deportation of thousands of Paris-area Jews under the Vichy