Anti-Semitic Terror Attack in France

  • January 13, 2015

Following Friday’s terror attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris, Joel Merghi, president of the Consistoire, France’s highest Jewish religious organization, said, “The Jewish community has survived (other attacks) many times in history but it will be very difficult to recover this time.”

The attack took place against a background of years of increasing anti-Semitic violence and a mounting sense of insecurity among France’s Jews.  ADL remains in close contact with French Jewish officials and has addressed the French government.

What has ADL said?

 How has the French Jewish community reacted?

  • French Jewish leaders condemned the Charlie Hebdo attack as an assault on the French Republic and its values.
  • Following the attack on the kosher supermarket, the focus of their remarks shifted to Jewish communal security.  Roger Cukierman, CRIF present said, “I have the impression that this is a war of jihad against the West, whose targets are journalists, the liberty of expression and Jews.”
  • Jewish leaders also called on the government to address radicalization in prisons from satellite TV and online.

French officials have been clear about the anti-Semitic nature of the attack on the kosher supermarket and the need to provide security for the Jewish community

  • In a major national address, President Francois Hollande called the murders at the kosher supermarket “an appalling anti-Semitic act” and said, “We must demonstrate our determination to fight against anything that might divide us and be relentless against racism and anti-Semitism.”
  • Prime Minister Manuel Valls said France was engaged in “a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity.”  He also said, “If 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.”
  • President Hollande promised French Jewish leaders that synagogues and schools would receive increased protection by police, and where necessary with army troops.
  • On January 8, Amedy Coulibaly, the hostage-taker at the kosher store, killed a policewoman.  A large Jewish school was located just 100 yards from the shooting, and it is suspected that the original target was the school.
  • ADL welcomes the French government’s statements and commitments.  Even prior to last week’s attacks, PM Valls had admitted the government’s national plan against anti-Semitism was not adequate to the challenge and needed to be improved.

France’s Muslim leaders have strongly condemned both attacks

  • The imam of Drancy, Hassen Chalghoumi, has been a regular presence on French television, denouncing the attacks and emphasizing that the terrorists are not Muslims but deviants whose “prophet is Satan.”  He also held a prayer service in front of the kosher supermarket after the attack, a gesture which was praised by the Jewish community.
  • Dalil Boubaker, leader of the Grand Mosque of Paris, said, “We condemn in the strongest terms these heinous crimes committed by terrorists,” and he called on all Muslims to join the national public demonstration.

Background on anti-Semitism in France

  • On ADL’s Global 100 survey, France scored 37%, much higher than the EU average of 25%.  Half of French respondents think Jews have too much control over global affairs, and too much influence in business and finance.
  • A November 2014 Fondapol survey found higher anti-Semitic attitudes among French Muslims than in the general population.  Using a different set of stereotypes than the Global 100, they survey found 16% of the general population agreed with 5 of 6 anti-Semitic stereotypes.  Among Muslim respondents, the result was 23% and among Muslims identifying as “religious and practicing,” the result was 32%.
  • During the Israel-Hamas war this summer, anti-Semitic incidents spiked in France.  In July 2014, the French Jewish security agency, SPCJ, recorded 2 incidents of terrorism, 26 assaults, 4 acts of arson, 29 acts of vandalism, for a total of 61 incidents, compared to a total of just 7 incidents in July 2013. 

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