Jewish communities fear escalation of anti-Israel protests
We are trying to prevent a disaster; the atmosphere is very tense and we don’t know how things are going to develop," a Jewish community leader in Paris says following mass Paris protest against Gaza offensive. Jewish Agency envoy in London: People are afraid to wear kippas
Several Jewish communities throughout Europe have boosted security at schools and synagogues and have taken other precautionary measures following a wave of anti-Israel protests that have swept the continent since the launching of the IDF's offensive in Gaza.
"We are trying to prevent a disaster," a Jewish community leader in Paris told Ynet on Sunday. "The atmosphere is very tense; we don’t know how things are going to develop."
According to Serj Ben-Haim, the heads of the various Jewish communities in France decided on a number of new security measures. "We've decided to place guards at the entrance to the synagogues, and we've asked Jewish schoolchildren not to carry out any acts of revenge against Arab teens, but rather keep a low profile."
Ben-Haim said local media outlets gave "extensive airtime to the protestors and an ephemeral Jewish group that is calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
"They also reported of a 100,000 thousand demonstrators in Paris, when in actuality only 30,000 people attended the rally, and most of them weren't French."
Pro-Palestinian protestors in Paris (Photo: AFP)
Rabbi Warren Kay, the Jewish Agency and Bnei Akiva's emissary in London, where Jews held a pro-Israel rally on Sunday, said members of the Jewish community have heightened their alert level.
"More parents are arriving at our schools to watch over their children, and people are afraid to walk around town wearing a kippa," he said. "On a personal level we are lowering our profiles, but publically we're supporting Israel."
Even in countries where the anti-Israel sentiment has not gained as much steam, such as Switzerland, Jews are exercising added caution.
"No one is addressing the issue publically so as not to inflame spirits, but there is an undercurrent of anti-Israel sentiment here as well," said Shlomo Zabichi of the Ashkenaz-Orthodox synagogue in Geneva.
According to Amos Hermon, head of the Jewish Agency task force on anti-Semitism, more than 100 anti-Semitic incidents have taken place worldwide since the operation in Gaza began.
"The anti-Jewish acts have increased significantly: Molotov cocktails have been thrown at synagogues, cemeteries have been desecrated and Jews have been assaulted. This period is redolent of the Second Lebanon War," he said.