For French Jews caught in the war between Islamists and France, “L’an Prochain à Jérusalem?” could be this year.
In response to a year bookended by Islamist terror attacks in Paris, France has seen a rise in anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic attacks. If the French/Islamist conflict continues to victimize Jews, as appears increasingly likely, it will further accelerate French Jewry’s demise.
In January the BBC wrote, “France is emerging from one of its worst security crises in decades.” That was in response to the Charlie Hebdo attack:
after three days of attacks by gunmen brought bloodshed to the capital Paris and its surrounding areas. It began with a massacre at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday 7 January and ended with a huge police operation and two sieges two days later.
Nobody knew at the time that Charlie Hebdo was but the prelude. Ten months later, on Friday, November 13, an Islamic State cell killed 130 people at the Bataclan Theatre, the State de France and targets of opportunity in a popular nightlife spot. The terrorists appear to have been assisted before and in real-time during the attacks by another cell or cells in Belgium.
France’s responses to the two attacks were outwardly quite different. After the Charlie Hebdo attacks, France took little concerted action. There were touching remembrances and declarations that France would not be cowed, but otherwise little real activity.
After 11/13, France truly mobilized, deploying its sole aircraft carrier to assist in the fight against IS in Syria and Iraq. Coalition forces killed a Syria-based ISIS leader linked to the 11/13 attacks on December 24. In Europe, the investigation quickly focused on Brussels, where even now the city is on tenterhooks, cancelling New Year’s Eve festivities amid ongoing arrests.
But if the domestic response to Charlie Hebdo is any indication, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic sentiment is set to increase dramatically. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 2015 saw a jump in reported anti-Muslim crimes in France. Yesterday the Telegraph, reported that anti-Muslim attacks increased three-fold in 2015, from 133 to 400. This rise no doubt reflects misdirected public anger at the Charlie Hebdo attack, the perception of French Muslims’ rejection of traditional French society, and more deeply the fruits of France’s decades-long failure to develop a plan for assimilating its Muslim population.
France, as much of Europe, is in a difficult position. It has an enormous, young, unassimilated, disaffected Muslim population. Generations of governments going back at least to the Algerian war have failed to address how to incorporate this bloc fully into French society.
One result is the growing popularity of Marine Le Pen‘s National Front. Le Pen’s National Front campaigns on rejection of pan-Europeanism, an end to immigration and refugees, and mass deportation of those in the country illegally.
Increasing anti-Muslim sentiment and increasing support for the National Front and its policies that would limit or reduce the Muslim population are undoubtedly related.
Continuing its ascendance over the past few years, the National Front achieved unprecedented support in regional elections earlier this month, receiving the most votes of any party in the first round before losing out in the run off. Still, the National Front now has 20% of national counsel seats and has a substantial chance of winning the Presidential election in the Spring.
It is harder to understand why a year characterized by Islamist terror and the growth of an anti-immigrant party has also seen a spike in anti-Semitic attacks. In may be merely that Jews are victimized in times of strife, whatever the cause (I wrote yesterday about France’s long, deep anti-Semitism).
Regardless, hidden in the Telegraph’s report is that the rate of attack on Jews nearly doubled for the period from January to May, 2015. Indeed, the telegraph uses some linguistic sleight-of-hand to hide just how severe French anti-Semitism is. The reported threefold jump in anti-Muslim attacks from 133 to 400 is for all of 2015. The Telegraph then reports than anti-Semitic attacks over a five-month period approximately doubled to 508.
In a year of Islamist terror against Jewish and secular targets in France, Jews are being targeted three times as often as Muslims, at an annualized rate of 100 attacks per month. Even that number likely underestimates the current rate of attacks, as the January-to-May time-frame does not capture any acceleration in anti-Semitic attacks since 11/13.
With French counter-terror efforts seemingly on the upswing, Islamists by all appearances set on continuing their terror war on Europe, and Jews apparently victimized by secular and Muslim French alike, circumstances for French Jews are only poised to worsen.
As a result, many French Jews are looking to emigrate to Israel. Israel, in turn, is looking to ease the process, especially for those whose professional degrees or certifications from French institutions are not credited under current Israeli law. If and when that law changes, France could experience both a brain drain, and the loss of the leaders of the French-Jewish community.
For French Jews caught in the crossfire of a war between Islamists and France, “Next year in Jerusalem” takes on new meaning.DONATE
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