Aliya from France is expected to hit record highs this year as Jews around the country continue to face rampant anti-Semitism. According to statistics released Monday by the Jewish Agency, 1,407 French Jews moved to Israel during the first quarter of 2014, up from just 353 during the same period last year. At current rates, more than 5,000 French Jews could make Aliya by the end of the year, the highest number since Israel declared independence in 1948. According to the European Jewish Press, more than 1000 people have enrolled in Bac Bleu Blanc, an organization that promotes “opportunities for life in Israel” for high school graduates. And thousands of people attended an aliyah fair in Paris last month, where dozens of representatives of Israeli housing projects, businesses and corporations, government agencies, and schools answered questions about immigration to Israel. Jewish life in France has become increasingly difficult in recent years as civil authorities have become increasingly hostile to Israel and have allowed Muslim anti-Semitism to spiral out of control. Anti-Jewish are considered acceptable in many sectors of “polite” French society, and anti-Israel sentiment is widespread, particularly in the media (in one outrageous example, a French television journalist compared the murder of Jewish children in Toulouse to IDF defensive actions against would-be Palestinian terrorists. As a result, anti-Jewish violence in France has skyrocketed. Between 2000 and 2013, the Service de Protection de la Communauté Juive (SPCJ), the Jewish community’s security organization, recorded more than 7,700 anti-Semitic incidents, or more than one per day. A partial list of those incidents includes
- January 21, 2006 – Paris 12th arrondissement : 17 year old Ilan Halimi was kidnapped by a group called the Gang of Barbarians and tortured for three weeks. He eventually died of his wounds.
- January 22, 2012 – Montreuil (a tough Paris suburb): A 16-year-old Jewish girl was attacked coming out of the Metro after individuals noticed she was carrying documents marked with Hebrew letters. She received blows to the face, her clothing was slashed with a knife while the aggressors proffered anti-Semitic insults. The victim was left in a state of shock.
- February 16, 2012 – Paris 19th arrondissement (a relatively poor Paris district inhabited by both Jews and Arabs): A young man was mugged, kicked and punched in the head by four males, who stole his wallet and coat claiming “This is what the Israelis do to the Palestinians.”
- March 8, 2012 – Montreuil: A minor was attacked by three teenagers, who said they “didn’t like” his kippa and that they did not like Jews. One attacker squirted tear gas in the victim’s face.
- March 26, 2012 – Paris 13th arrondissement: An 11-year-old wearing tzitzit is hit in the face and called a “dirty Jew” a few meters from the entrance to his school.
- April 30, 2012 – Marseille: A young Jew was attacked by a group of individuals saying, “We are for Palestine and we don’t like dirty Jews. We’re going to kill you all.” The victim sustained a blow to the head and fell to the sidewalk, where the attackers kicked him repeatedly before stealing the Star of David chain around his neck. He suffered neck wounds, an internal hemorrhage and needed stitches near his eye.
Significantly, Jewish and civil authorities in Paris agree that the actual number of attacks is significantly higher than the official numbers, as a healthy majority of attacks go unreported. The affect of the prevailing winds in France are readily apparent. During a visit to Paris last August, local Jews repeatedly warned this reporter not to wear a kippa away the Rue de Rosier, home to several yeshivot and kosher restaurants. To Parisian Jews, it is an accepted fact that “looking too Jewish” is to invite danger on the Metro, or at other sites around the city.