Photo: AFP
Interior Minister Cazeneuve. 'Without the Jews, France will no longer be the Republic'
Photo: AFP

France vows 'national' fight against anti-Semitism

Interior minister admits anti-Semitic acts have more than doubled in country in past 10 months, says France will defend Jews 'with all its strength.'

France's government has pledged more action to fight anti-Semitism after an attack on a couple revived worries about the rising number of incidents targeting Jews in the country.



Several hundred people demonstrated Sunday in the Paris suburb of Creteil, where the attack took place last Monday, to draw attention to what France's leading Jewish organization says is a nearly doubling of anti-Semitic incidents this year compared to 2013.


Speaking during the rally, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve vowed to make the fight against anti-Semitism a "national cause" by "getting all bodies concerned involved."


He told those present that France "will defend you with all its strength because, without you, it would no longer be the Republic."


Speaking at the same rally, Roger Cukierman, the head of France's main Jewish organization (CRIF), said: "Jews feel in danger. Some are already leaving France."


He called on the government to do more to address the problem.


"We feel that something has changed: it's no longer just graffiti or minor incidents, these are death threats (against the Jewish community)," he told BFM TV. "It cannot go on like this."


Rally against anti-Semitism in Paris suburb of Creteil (Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)
Rally against anti-Semitism in Paris suburb of Creteil (Photo: AP)


Cazeneuve said anti-Semitic acts and threats have more than doubled in the past 10 months and called for the authorities to ensure that "none of them goes unpunished."


In what President Francois Hollande has described as an "unbearable" attack, assailants stormed the flat of a young couple, raping the woman and stealing jewelry and bank cards.


According to the male victim, the attackers told them they had not chosen the place at random.


"We know that your brother is the manager of a big clothing chain. We know he has the cash till," one of them said, according to the man, who was interviewed on French television.


"In any case, you Jews, you have money," the assailant added, according to the victim.


This was not petty crime but a "cowardly, vile and anti-Semitic act," said the minister. "Behind this crime, this is an evil that is eating away at the Republic and which needs to be fought at all costs."


Speaking later on French television, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said he was "surprised" there were not more demonstrations on the streets against anti-Semitism and racism.


"What happened in Creteil, this abominable crime, this violence, the rape of a young woman, (the attack on) a family because they are Jewish. That's not France," stressed Valls.


France is home to some 500,000-600,000 Jews, the third largest Jewish population in the world, after Israel and the United States.


But violent incidents like the murders of three Jewish children and a rabbi by Islamist militant gunman Mohamed Merah in 2012, and clashes at pro-Palestinian rallies in Paris have disturbed some in the Jewish community.


Tensions over the recent Gaza conflict spilled out into the streets in July with looters destroying Jewish businesses and shouting anti-Israeli slogans.


The number of French Jews who have moved to Israel in the first 10 months of 2014 has more than doubled compared to last year, a leading Jewish agency said last week, attributing the spike to a sluggish economy and a rise in anti-Semitic sentiment.


"It's true. We're thinking of leaving," said Sarah Landau, who has lived in Creteil for nine years.


"France today is not like the France I used to know. My Judaism was never a problem but today it's a problem for our children."


AFP, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


פרסום ראשון: 12.08.14, 17:05
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