A tree in memory of Ilan Halimi — a young Jew murdered and tortured in 2006 — was cut in two
The hateful vandalism and graffiti in and around Paris over the weekend came as the interior ministry announced that anti-Jewish violence had surged by 74 per cent last year. Anti-Jewish graffiti appeared in Paris streets and a tree in memory of Ilan Halimi — a young Jew murdered and tortured in 2006 — was cut in two. The word “Juden,” German for Jews, was sprayed in yellow letters on a popular bagel shop in Paris on Friday night, triggering memories of Nazi Germany.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe
Artwork on two Paris letterboxes of Simone Veil, a former magistrate and Holocaust survivor who fought to legalise abortion in the 1970s, was daubed with swastikas over the weekend.
Mr Philippe told parliament: “These acts are repulsive.
“I share the anger in the face of more and more acts, which are targeting people or places, anti-Semitic acts against the memory of Ilan Halimi, anti-Semitic acts against the memory of Simone Veil, slogans placed here and there on this or that sign.
“We need to educate and remind people about our history, to talk about the horrors that hide behind those criminal acts. We also need to punish more and we know that we can’t be hesitant on that.”
Letterboxes of Simone Veil
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Monday that anti-Semitic acts had increased by 74 percent in 2018, to 541 from 311 the previous year, as he warned “anti-Semitism is spreading like a poison”.
Of that figure, 183 involved assaults and at least one death — that of Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor who was killed in a brutal attack at her home last March, believed to be motivated at least partly because she was Jewish.
The other 358 offences involved anti-Semitic threats or insults.
The head of the Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF), Francis Kalifat, said the increasing threats required a “national wake-up call” to denounce “the normalisation of anti-Jewish hate”.
Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, was killed in a brutal attack at her home in 2018
In a separate interview with France Info radio on Tuesday, Mr Kalifat said the recent attacks were “just the tip of the iceberg” because many victims are “too scared” to come forward.
He said: “Anti-Semitism is plaguing French society.”
Other graffiti, found at the Paris offices of the daily newspaper, Le Monde, targeted President Emmanuel Macron, using anti-Semitic metaphors to refer to his former job as an investment banker.
In reference to the anti-government rebellion that has shaken France, Le Monde said on Tuesday: “The social crisis France has seen since the emergence of the yellow vest movement has only encouraged such acts.
France has since become one of the world’s leading countries for migrants to Israel
Tributes for Mireille Knoll
“To think that this old, hideous hate will abate once the social tensions ease is just wishful thinking.”
Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux echoed Le Monde’s theory, suggesting the recent attacks could be blamed in part on the far-left and far-right militants who have hijacked the yellow vest protests.
Demonstrators have gathered in Paris and other big cities every Saturday since mid-November to denounce rising living costs and Mr Macron’s liberal economic policies, often leading to violent clashes with riot police.
The head of the Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF), Francis Kalifat
“We’re not talking about the protesters who are struggling to make ends meet,” Mr Griveaux told France 2 television.
“But those who are committing violent acts, openly anti-Semitic or racist acts, they must be charged and severely punished.”
But the sharp rise in anti-Semitic violence was flagged before the yellow vest movement even existed, and there was no evidence linking the latest incidents to the protests.
Four Jewish people were killed in a terrorist attack at a Kosher supermarket in Paris in 2015
France has the biggest Jewish community in Europe — around 550,000 — a population that has grown by about half since World War Two. But anti-Semitic attacks have become increasingly common.
A rabbi and three children were killed at a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012 by Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah, while four Jewish people were killed in a terrorist attack at a Kosher supermarket in Paris in 2015.
France has since become one of the world’s leading countries for migrants to Israel.
Mr Macron commented on the spate of attacks during today’s cabinet meeting, denouncing the “unbearable increase” in anti-Semitic acts.