Following a series of anti-Semitic incidents, including the desecration of Jewish graves in the northwestern state of Alsace, thousands of people across France joined rallies opposing anti-Semitism, The Times of Israel reported Wednesday.
The show of concern over anti-Semitism comes a week after France’s Interior Ministry released a report showing that last year, anti-Semitic acts rose 74% over 2017
In Paris, former presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy participated in a rally that was led by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. President Emanuel Macron and parliamentary leaders attended a vigil at the Shoah Memorial in the French capital.
At a news conference, Macron said, “Every time a French person, because he or she is Jewish, is insulted, threatened — or worse, injured or killed — the whole Republic” is attacked.”
His sentiment was similar to one expressed by former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who said in a 2015 interview that if Jews leave France due to anti-Semitism, France “will be judged a failure.”
In two separate incidents earlier this month, portraits of Holocaust survivor Simone Veil were stained with swastikas, and a bagel shop had the German word “Juden” sprayed on its front window. Veil, who died in 2017, was a survivor of Nazi death camps and a European Parliament president.
Sociologist Danny Trom, who wrote the book France without Jews, said that thousands of Jews are leaving France annually out of fears of anti-Semitism.
Trom described the situation as “a low-intensity war,” referring to the 2012 killing of a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse.
“It is without equivalent in the history of France,” Trom added. “Jews have been present in France since the dawn of time. Now, the pressure is such that they are led to consider their country inhospitable.”
The increasing number of anti-Semitic incidents in France prompted 300 celebrities to write a letter last year calling on the nation to counter what they called the “new anti-Semitism.”
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