The plaza was empty. It wasn't like any other Friday, when parents arrive at the Jewish school in Aix-en-Provence to pick up their children.
Two of the institution's security guards, reinforced by soldiers with assault rifles, stood at the front of the building, which also includes a synagogue and the Jewish community center.
It's a small city in the south of France, but following the developing events in the capital, Paris, the fear has become much more concrete.
In nearby Marseilles, less than an hour's drive away, there are Muslim neighborhoods which even the police are afraid to visit. When elections were held in Tunisia, the support for the Islamic party was much higher in Marseilles than in the origin country. That doesn’t mean that all of the party's supporters approve of terror. But it is terrifying.
The problem is not the old anti-Semitism. The problem is the new anti-Semitism, and the problem is the direction France is heading in. In Sarcelles, a town near Paris inhabited by North Africans, where Jews and Muslims have been living in relative peace for the past few decades, something happened in the past summer – and anti-Israel protests quickly turned into violent protests against Jews. Some of the neighbors also turned into rioting hooligans.
"I am so scared that I haven't left the house in three days," a Jewish woman from Sarcelles told me. "As soon as I get the chance, I'll get out of here. There was violence. There was vandalism. Stores were destroyed and torched. It's only a miracle that there were no casualties. But no one is willing to take a risk about the future. No one is deluding himself that the coexistence will return."
France's Jews feel like Israel's Jews in the height of the intifada. Many of them wear skullcaps when they arrive in Israel. It's not that they are devout Jews. In France they just can't walk around with skullcaps. In Israel they enjoy a free domain – the freedom to wear a kippah, an impossible treat in their place of residence. Now it's only getting worse.
I watched the parents arriving at the school, at the beginning or at the end of the school day. They glanced fearfully in all directions.
There have been terror attacks against Jews before. One was carried out in the city of Toulouse by Mohammed Merah, a duplicate of the Kouachi brothers, who carried out the murder at the Charlie Hebdo office.
It's true that most Muslims don't support terror. But too many of them are in favor of applying Sharia law. And their leader, Tariq Ramadan, is an authentic representative of the double talk: He is both a clear supporter of the Muslims' integration in Europe and a fervent supporter of the Islamic "resistance" in Morocco, in Chechnya, in Palestine, in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. The man is now chanting in favor of freedom of expression. He may be a professor, but he is as slippery as an eel – and this is the "moderate" spiritual leader of many of France's young Muslims.
France is under attack, and the Jewish community is under a double attack. The French are starting to feel like foreigners in their country, and for the Jews it's a double foreignness. They are already accustomed to an anti-Semitic right, whose finest hour was the Dreyfus affair.
Dark people on the left, usually anti-Zionists, operate alongside the anti-Semitic right, and in the past summer's protests they marched alongside Hamas-supporting jihadists.
There are millions of French people, including decent and law-abiding Muslims – but the jihadists, even if there are only few of them, are far from being defeated.
France has its concerns. The Jews have more concerns. The events of the past week served as a milestone for France. Many Jews feel this is a milestone ahead of the end of the road in France.