Thousands Attend Rally to Protest Antisemitism in France

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Photo Credit: WJC / Thousands demonstrated in Paris' Place du République to protest a startling rise in antisemitism in France

In the past months, antisemitism in France has reached disturbing levels leading to a massive demonstration last evening on the streets of Paris.  

Thousands gathered last night in Paris after being called by France’s major political parties, Jewish organizations in response to a meteoric rise in antisemitism including the vandalism of a Jewish cemetery just the night before. Brief remarks were given by a rabbi before a rendition of France’s national anthem was played.

The French Interior Ministry made an announcement last week that there has been a 74 percent rise in antisemitic incidents in 2018. French citizens of Jewish and non-Jewish origin alike were alarmed by events of late causing roughly 20,000 French citizens rallied against antisemitism.

Antisemitic incidents in France can only really be described as abhorrent and nothing new. Despite only representing 1% of the population in France, Jews are targeted by 40% of racist or religiously motivated violent acts, according to France24, a news outlet cited by French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron.

In just the past two years, murders and assaults on Jews in France have skyrocketed. In April of 2017, retired kindergarten teacher and orthodox Jewish Sarah Halimi was thrown off of her Paris balcony. Similarly, in March of 2018, Elderly Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll was stabbed to death by her neighbors who shouted “Allahu Akbar” as they murdered her.

Now “Yellow Vest” protesters are exploiting anti-Jewish sentiment in France and turning their dismay with the French economy against France’s Jews.  the bandwagon against innocent Jewish citizens and making them a target in France. In the past week there have been desecrations against Jewish headstones in the French Jewish cemetery near Strasbourg, verbal assault on Jewish Professor Alain Finkielkraut. 

Many prolific French citizens and government members attended the demonstrations in Place du République, Paris including Prime Minister Édouard Philippe amongst other politicians.  

On Tuesday, President Macron made a statement at the vandalized Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim. He called the targeting of Jews and their property in France “absurd stupidity” and acknowledged that antisemitism is deeply rooted in French society.

“We will punish them.” Macron said “We will take actions that are strong and clear.