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Anti-semitic violence flared again in France this weekend as shops were looted and a synagogue targeted in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles. Eighteen youths were arrested after the rampage in which French media showed images of, among other things, a burned-out front of a kosher grocery store. It was one of several looted on Sunday and was also the target of a militant grenade attack two years before.
Youths fought with police, vehicles were burned and widespread looting extended to non-Jewish targets. While protests elsewhere in France went ahead peacefully and with government authorization, some protesters and Socialist politicians were critical of the government for not issuing a permit for a protest in Sarcelles. France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve reiterated that permits for any future rallies would continue to be considered case by case. Sarcelles is a mixed area with a large Jewish population.
With people in the streets shouting “Death to Jews” and one Paris synagogue being firebombed, Francois Pupponi, the mayor of Sarcelles, said the Jewish people of his town are in fear. The anti-semitic rampage was marked by stones and bottles being thrown at riot police, who in turn responded with tear gas. During a visit to the synagogue in Sarcelles, Cazeneuve rejected those that have belittled the ban. He said that, contrary to critics, earlier violence is exactly what prompted the ban, rather than the ban having prompted the violence.
Anti-semitic protestors violently clashed with riot police outside two Paris synagogues last weekend. At least three Jews were taken to hospitals and two nights earlier another synagogue was the target of one or more Molotov cocktails. Peaceful pro-Palestinian demonstrations took place throughout Europe this weekend; however, one report has demonstrators in Berlin attacking an Israeli tourist.
Cazeneuve promised to crack down on anti-semitism throughout his country. France is the residence of both the largest Muslim and Jewish populations in Europe. Violence in the Middle East – such as the two-week old war afflicting Israel and the Gaza Strip- has been seen to trigger anti-Jewish violence amongst Muslims in France. Cazeneuve remarked that there is no justification for such violence. “This will be fought and sanctioned,” he said.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that anti-semitic behavior has taken on a new form by flourishing on the Internet and thus enabling its spread in France’s working-class neighborhoods. He called it intolerable, saying that his country “will not allow provocations to feed … conflicts between communities.”
In the first three months of this year, more Jews emigrated from France to Israel than at any other time since Israel was created in 1948. Factors cited for the mass emigration start with anti-semitism but also include France’s stalled economy.
In the two weeks since fighting began in the Middle East, 496 Hamas militants and Palestinian civilians have died, including almost 100 children. 18 Israeli soldiers and two civilians have also died. Between both sides, 78 people were killed on Sunday as result of the first major ground battle since fighting began two weeks ago. The UN Security Council has called for an immediate cease-fire.
By Gregory Baskin