More Must Be Done to Combat Anti-Semitism in France in Wake of Attack on Jewish Couple, ADL Says

New York, NY, December 5, 2014 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today condemned the ghastly home invasion assault, rape and theft perpetrated against a Jewish couple in a suburb of Paris on December 1, which was apparently motivated by the perpetrators’ deep belief in the age old anti-Semitic myth that all Jews have money.

In the aftermath of the events, ADL urged that more concrete steps need to be taken in order to educate youth in France - as well as in many other European countries - about the danger of anti-Semitic stereotypes, raise awareness among its adults, strengthen the work of law enforcement and establish trainings to ensure the protection of the Jewish community.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

We now know the age old anti-Semitic belief that Jews hoard money led to this unthinkable attack. A gang of known criminals chose this family because they are Jews, demanded money because they are Jews, and even told their victims they know Jews always have lots of money.

Such distorted notions - so widely held in the minds of the French people according to our recent polling - reinforce the idea for some who are willing to commit crimes to extort money that all you have to do is find a Jew to beat and rob. These heinous crimes against Jews show how stubborn, pernicious and poisonous the canard of Jews and money is. It stigmatizes, dehumanizes and tragically leads to violence. So when we shake our heads and ask in disbelief, ‘how can this keep happening?’ –this is how it happens.

The French government has taken many steps to combat anti-Semitism in recent years, especially following the murder of French Jew Ilan Halimi in 2006. French government officials at the highest levels have consistently and clearly condemned violence and vitriol targeting Jews, and its law enforcement vigorously investigates and prosecutes the accused perpetrators.

Though these are welcome and necessary ingredients in the daily effort to combat anti-Semitism, they have proven insufficient to stem the scourge. As Prime Minister Manuel Valls has acknowledged, the current national plan to combat anti-Semitism is not up to the task.

More must be done to educate the youth of France, raise awareness among its adults and to strengthen the work of law enforcement through intensified training to better protect the people of France against hate crimes.

A recent ADL poll on anti-Semitic attitudes in 100 countries found that 51 percent of respondents in France believed that the statement “Jews have too much power in the business world” was probably true and 48 percent believed the statement “Jews have too much power in international financial markets” was probably true. The poll also found that 37 percent of those surveyed in France harbor anti-Semitic attitudes.