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Wave of New Anti-Semitism in France Hits WW II Memorial

Last month, anti-Semites in France attack graves. Last week, they hit kosher stores. The latest target is a WW II memorial to deported Jews.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 8/8/2010, 9:58 AM / Last Update: 8/8/2010, 10:07 AM

European Jewish Press

A new wave of anti-Semitism in France spread to the city of Marmande, where vandals desecrated a memorial to Jews deported by Nazis. The attack follows two recent attacks on attacks on kosher stores and Jewish graves.

As the rampage continues, French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux expressed “horror and sadness” after the latest desecration. The mayor of Marmande pointed the finger at Holocaust deniers who smeared the words “lies,” “Zionism”, “interests” and the dollar sign “$” in red paint on the monument that bears the names of Nazi concentration camps.

Hortefeux said that the anti-Semites "clearly targeted the memory of the deportees and the Jewish community of France. I am more than ever determined to fight against all racism and all forms [of] extremism.”

Official statements denouncing the new wave have not stemmed it. Last week, the Union of Jewish Students in France (UEJF) described attacks on kosher stores as a “new demonstration of anti-Semitic hatred.”  Swastikas had been discovered at a dozen kosher stores in Paris and on the wall of a Jewish school and a nearby building.

Three weeks ago, vandals in eastern France smashed or overturned 27 gravestones at the Jewish cemetery of Wolfisheim, near Strasbourg

More recently, anti-Semitic slogans and Nazi swastikas were discovered on the walls of the Etz Chaim synagogue in Melun, located in central France. In January, some 30 gravestones were vandalized, including 18 painted with swastikas and 13 overturned, and the German phrase “Juden Raus” (“Jews out”) was written on one of the tombstones.  

Last year’s annual report on anti-Semitism reported a 75 percent increase over incidents in 2008.

Part of the increase was attributed to Israel's Operation Cast Lead campaign against the Hamas terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, but demographers have also noted the rapid increase in the Muslim population in France. An estimated five to six million Muslims lived in France in 2003, according to the French Interior Ministry. The number had climbed to an estimated eight million, according to Odile Jacob's Intégrer l'Islam.

In 2008, there were some 490,000 Jews living in France, according to a survey by Professor Sergio Della Pergola of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute and the Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at Hebrew University.