Some 300 well-known French celebrities are urging national action to counter a “new anti-Semitism” that they blame on rising Islamic extremism in France, the Associated Press reported Sunday.
“Antisemitism is not a Jewish affair, it is everyone’s,” begins the letter. France, the authors charged, has “become a theater of murderous antisemitism.”
The signatories warned of the “quiet ethnic purging” of Jews driven by rising Islamic extremism in the country, particularly in deprived neighborhoods. They also accused the media of remaining silent in the face of anti-Semitic atrocities.
“In our recent history, 11 Jews have been assassinated — and some tortured — by radical Islamists because they were Jewish,” the document said, adding that some 50,000 Jews had been “forced to move because they were no longer in safety in certain cities and because their children could no longer go to school.”
Actor Gerard Depardieu, singer Charles Aznavour, intellectual Bernard Henri-Levy, and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy are among the signatories of the letter published Sunday in the Le Parisien newspaper, joining politicians from the right and left, as well as Jewish, Muslim and Catholic leaders.
“Why the silence?” the letter asked. “It is because radical Islam is considered exclusively by some of the elite French parties as an expression of social revolt… because the old antisemitism of the extreme Right is added to the antisemitism of the radical Left, which has found anti-Zionism as their alibi for transforming the executioners of Jews as victims in society.”
Two French Jews were killed in the last two months alone: Mireille Knoll, a Holocaust survivor, aged 85, was stabbed and left to die in her burning home by a Muslim neighbor. Jeremy Dahan was found by his twin brother in his flat, tied and with a plastic bag covering his face. Knoll’s murder has been classified as an anti-Semitic attack; Dahan’s has not.
The anti-Semitic murder spree in France goes back to 2006, and includes the 2012 shooting of three schoolchildren and a teacher at a Jewish school in Toulouse by an Islamist extremist; the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris in 2015, which left four people dead; and the murder of Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Jewish woman who was beaten to death and thrown out a window of her Paris apartment in 2017.
The writers concluded the letter: “We ask that the fight against the democratic weakness that is antisemitism will become a national cause before it is too late. Before France is no longer France.”
After Halimi’s murder last year, seventeen French intellectuals wrote an open letter criticizing the previous government for failing to speak up against anti-Semitism.
The French letter against anti-Semitism comes at a time of growing concern regarding anti-Jewish hatred across Europe.
In a recent interview, German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of a “new” anti-Semitism and attributed it to “many refugees,” and specifically to “people of Arab origin, who bring another form of anti-Semitism into the country.”
Last week, the British Parliament debated anti-Semitism. The debate was prompted by the associations of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn with anti-Semites, and his failure to address anti-Semitism within the party. MP John Mann told his fellow parliamentarians that the term “Zionist” had become “a pejorative insult” within the party and reported that Jews approached him to express their fears of growing anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom.
Recently renowned author, J. K. Rowling, took to Twitter to denounce the rise of anti-Semitism in the U.K.
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