Antisemitic acts in France nearly quadrupled in 2023 compared with the previous year, a Jewish organization says, reflecting a surge in discrimination since the October 7 attacks by Hamas on Israel.
Citing figures from the French interior ministry and a French-Jewish security watchdog, the Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) says there were 1,676 antisemitic acts last year compared to 436 the year prior.
Nearly 60 percent of those acts were attacks involving physical violence, threatening words or menacing gestures, CRIF says in its report. Worryingly, nearly 13 percent of antisemitic incidents last year took place in schools, most of them in junior high schools.
“We are witnessing a rejuvenation of the perpetrators of antisemitic acts. Schools are no longer a sanctuary of the Republic,” the report says.
The spike in antisemitism is the worst on record, according to CRIF, which has figures dating back to 2012. The organization cautions that its tally reflects only acts “that have been the subject of a complaint or a report to the police.”
France is home to Europe’s largest Jewish community and the largest number of Muslims on the continent, although no precise figures are available as the country’s census does not include religious identity.
According to CRIF, the bloodshed in the Middle East has unleashed a wave of anti-Semitic vitriol. In the three months following Hamas’ October 7 attack and Israel’s subsequent invasion of Gaza, the number of anti-Semitic incidents “equaled that of the previous three years combined”, according to the report. A third of the acts glorified jihadism, according to CRIF, and a quarter were “calls to murder”.
France has seen previous surges of anti-Semitism, including after a 2012 attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse and a 2015 attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris.
Worrying rise in UK antisemitic attacks
Meanwhile, amid preparations for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Saturday, UK-based news outlet Daily Mail reported Thursday that London’s Metropolitan Police recorded a rise of 13 times the number of antisemitic hate crimes in the city following Hamas’ attack on October 7, when compared to figures from 2022.
According to the report, 679 antisemitic crimes were recorded by local law enforcement forces from October 7 to November 7, compared to 50 such crimes during the same period in 2022 and 80 incidents in 2021. The report added that data from police across the UK confirm a similar picture is seen throughout the country.
The Daily Mail described two recent antisemitic incidents in London, including a graffiti calling Jews “evil” being sprayed in a local skate park, and security camera footage showing a man throwing the hats off of Jewish men arriving to pray at a synagogue in Hackney.
“We recognize the impact that the October 7 terrorist attacks and the subsequent conflict have had here in London, in particular in Jewish and Muslim communities. The Met has had a dedicated operation focused on responding to the increase in hate crime, fear and uncertainty in communities and protests throughout,” a Metropolitan Police spokesperson told the news outlet.
“We have made it a priority to maintain constant communication with community representatives and partner organizations to understand different perspectives and to inform our response,” the statement added.
The report further added that according to a recent poll conducted by the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) in the UK, worrying figures show a rise in anti-Jewish sentiment among the British population.
According to the poll conducted by King’s College London, one-third of the public in the UK aged over 64 believes Israel treats Palestinians in Gaza as the Nazis did Jews during the Holocaust. Amid 18 to 24-year-olds, the number is higher than one-third.
The data showed that the UK’s general population (one in twenty) believe British Jews aren’t as loyal to the country as non-Jews, with the number doubling (one in ten) for the 18 to 24-year-old age range.
While nearly 20% of the British public thinks that Israel and its supporters negatively impact democracy in the country, this sentiment increases to over 25% among individuals aged 18 to 24.
Some 7% of the UK’s population don't agree that Israel has the right to defend itself against those wishing to harm it. This percentage doubles to 14% among 18 to 24-year-olds.
More than 10% of British youth don't acknowledge Israel's right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people.
Over 10% of individuals in the UK aged 18 to 24 believe that Jewish people bring up the Holocaust merely to advance their political agenda.
“The rhetoric that we are seeing online, on television and on our streets is radicalizing the British public, but it is the rates of antisemitism that we have discovered among 18 to 24-year-olds that are most frightening,” a Campaign Against Antisemitism spokesperson told the Daily Mail.
“This is generation hate. If young people cannot see the relationship between the genocidal antisemitism of the Nazis and the genocidal antisemitism of Hamas, and, worse still, refuse to talk about how our attitudes towards Israel and its supporters are influenced by antisemitic prejudice, then we are clearly not talking about antisemitism properly.”