Six members of the French Jewish Defense League - the Ligue de Defense Juive (LDJ) - were arrested after allegedly beating up anti-Semites. The group reportedly the group tracked down the individuals - which purportedly included Neo-Nazis and at least one Arab man - from photos on the internet, showing them making the "quenelle" - a version of the Nazi salute which has become increasingly popular among anti-Semites in France.
The 6 were arrested over suspected connection to the string of attacks in eastern France; 2 of them were charged. The LDJ denies involvement in the attacks.
Anti-Semitism has been skyrocketing in France, spurring many Jews to take matters into their own hands. A report found anti-Semitic incidents rose 58% in 2012, with most attributed to Muslim extremists. The Toulouse shooting in 2012 that left a rabbi and 3 Jewish children dead was carried out by an Al Qaeda-linked Islamist.
According to the claims, at least 2 of the attacks last weekend occurred in Lyon and Villeurbanne, and targeted locals who had made a modified Nazi salute known as quenelle, reports Walla!. The gesture consists of a lowered straight arm salute with the other arm folded across the shoulder, and was made famous in France by controversial comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, who has been accused of anti-Semitism on numerous occasions.
The gesture has since gained popularity among French anti-Semites, many of whom photograph themselves making the "modified" Nazi salute in front of Jewish establishments, holocaust memorial sites and even with unsuspecting Jewish passersby. The phenomenon is not only popular with neo-Nazis though - many of those recorded giving the salute have been young French Muslims.
In September two soldiers in the French Alpinist unit were punished after being documented making the salute in front of a Paris synagogue. World Zionist Organization (WZO) declared the salute as a clear Nazi symbol. The September incident was not the first evidence of Neo-Nazi French soldiers.
In the recent attacks, French newspaper La Parisienne alleges that roughly 40 members of the LDJ arrived at a Lyon hotel to attack a worker suspected of being a Neo-Nazi. After an altercation broke out with hotel security, police showed up and promptly fired tear gas at the members. Nevertheless, the paper claims JDL members managed to hit and kidnap another person, not their original target.
Meanwhile on Sunday, the French paper reports six members attacked a man they identified from Neo-Nazi pictures on the internet, locking him in the trunk of their car.
Half a year ago the French JDL reportedly sent members to beat up and hospitalize an Arab in Paris who they said attacked Jews in the city.
The Jewish Defense League was founded in America by Rabbi Meir Kahane Hy''d in 1968, shortly before he immigrated to Israel. The organization set up neighborhood patrols, using force to defend Jews from rampant anti-Semitic attacks in cities around the country, though it is now largely defunct.
Former MK Michael Ben-Ari, a follower of Rabbi Kahane, in 2009 called on the Knesset to recognize the Rabbi's legacy of standing up for Jewish rights and fighting against anti-Semitism.