In July 2014, during Israel’s war against Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror organization, Jews were barricaded in the Paris central synagogue by demonstrators chanting, “Death to Jews.”
That was a sound not unfamiliar to senior citizens who were young during World War II. They remember the nightmares, and how the Vichy French government collaborated with the Nazis. For them, the 1930s and 1940s were not so long ago; that period is just a memory away.
The second deadly issue facing French Jewry is being called the “new anti-Semitism.” This is the anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian movement being manipulated by Muslim extremists who are taking advantage of the political atmosphere.
Incident such as the pro-Palestinian march that morphed into a violent anti-Jewish riot in Sarcelles, north of Paris last year only underscore the terror for those who remember the Nazis.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told The Atlantic magazine in an interview prior to the attacks that this new anti-Semitism is coming “from immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, who have turned anger about Gaza into something very dangerous.
“Israel and Palestine are just a pretext,” Valls told journalist Jeff Goldberg. “There is something far more profound taking place now…. It is legitimate to criticize the politics of Israel. This criticism exists in Israel itself,” he observed. “But this is not what we are talking about in France. This is radical criticism of the very existence of Israel, which is anti-Semitic.”
This second issue is the main source of terror that has driven the fears of French Jewry till now. But both issues are what haunt the dreams of Israeli leaders, and what drive them to urge French Jews to “come home.” Few people are more familiar with radical Islamist terror than Israel’s current leadership, all of whom are war veterans.
And it appears that slowly, French Jews are listening.
The Jewish Agency for Israel in Paris estimates that 5,000 Jews will leave France this year. Last year in one weekend alone more than 1,000 French citizens arrived in Ben Gurion International Airport.