Anti-Semitism in France is strongly on the rise, according to the 2009 annual report released late last week by the Jewish Community Protection Service (SPCJ). The organization reported that 832 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in France in 2009, as compared with 474 such incidents in 2008 - a 75% increase.

The statistics were gleaned from records in the organization's Aid to Victims Department, which cross-checked the figures with data published by the French Ministry of Home Affairs. Included were “statistics, comments, analyses and extracts from sentences handed out by courts in cases involving anti-Semitism,” according to the Council Representing Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF).

CRIF President Richard Prasquier attributed the increase to the French population's anger at Israel during its counter-terrorist operation in Gaza, Cast Lead, last January. There were 354 anti-Semitic incidents recorded in January 2009 alone - a “totally unacceptable transposition to France of the Israel-Palestine conflict,” Prasquier said. He added that “anti-Semitic words and deeds on a daily basis, often under the cover of anti-Zionism, have become a major and worryingly trivial fact of life.”

In 2007, the number of anti-Semitic incidents recorded by the French Interior Ministry was 386, a lower figure than had been recorded in previous years. But the trend had already begun to change long before the Operation Cast Lead was carried out; the 2008 figures were already 22 percent higher than those of the previous year.

At least part of the reason for the hatred may have been due to the corresponding rise in the country's Islamic population.

As of 2003, there were an estimated five to six million Muslims living in France, according to a report issued by the country's Interior Ministry. However, by 2007, that 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.

Canadian Anti-Semitism Rising Too

Anti-Semitic incidents in Canada also reached record highs in 2009, according to an annual report released by the B'nai Brith Canada organization. The survey showed an 11.4 percent jump in the number of incidents over the previous year, 2008 – a figure that constituted the highest level ever reported in the 28-year history of the audit.

The organization noted there has been a five-fold increase in anti-Semitic incidents in Canada over the past decade. As happened in France, the highest number of attacks to take place in one month, 209, occurred last January, during Israel's counter-terrorism operation in Gaza.

According to the Toronto Muslims website, Muslims living in Canada today number more than 750,000, with some 61 percent of those residing in Ontario, where the majority of the anti-Semitic incidents occurred. “Since the September 11 terrorist attacks many Muslims have begun to look to Canada as an alternative to the United States... This is especially true with international students who have come to Canada in much larger numbers since 9/11,” the site noted.