Interview: Kippah-wearing Jews in Europe are like dead men walking
Interview: Kippah-wearing Jews in Europe are like dead men walking

Zvi Ammar is proud of what he did in Marseille, the first port in the Mediterranean, France’s second city and Jewish community: advising the Jews not to wear their kippah on the streets. Hiding.

Today the Jews of Marseille live in a state of fear and abandonment. Since 2012, 30 anti-Semitic incidents are reported each year in Marseille, according to data of the Department of Security of the Jewish community. Now we have the anti-Semitic attack against a teacher which ten days ago threw the 70,000 Jews, a tenth of the total population of Marseille, into a turmoil. The president of the Israelite Consistory of Marseille, Zvi Ammar, has thus become one of the men most contested in France, criticized by President Hollande and by the Grand Rabbi of France, Haïm Korsia.

Some details of the daily life of the Jews provide an idea of what means being a Jew in France today. The Jews go to synagogue at groups of 10 or 15 to better defend themselves. Many mothers, when going shopping in kosher stores, leave their children in the car with someone else. The 22 Jewish schools and synagogues are monitored by the military and parents have organized patrols around schools. 500 Jews left Marseille in 2015, the city where in 1947 the legendary ship Exodus left for Israel.

We spoke exclusively with Zvi Ammar.

Roger Cukierman, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France, accused you of “defeatism”.

Answer: “Cukierman can speak so because he has three bodyguards and lives in the XVI arrondissement of Paris, but France is very large and he does not know what happens in the rest of the country, where the Jews are doing very badly. My role is not to like or dislike. Jews are really afraid to walk around with a skullcap on his head. We prefer to stay alive. Now we are in a ‘state of war’. In today’s Europe the kippah can endanger the Jews. The kippah can kill you. No police in the world can monitor 600,000 Jews. We, with a yarmulke, are at the forefront and identified to be massacred by the terrorists. Therefore I said to my community, the second largest in France, to be careful”.

The Socialist government claims it protects you

Answer:Jews are identified today by terrorists through a kippah. And that reminds us of the Holocaust, when the Nazis got us through yellow star of David”.

This year, 8,000 French Jews left for Israel, Canada, England.

Answer: “The society in France is sick, there is no freedom for the Jews, who knows who will be the next. Even now, before my appeal, only 5 percent of the Jewish population in Marseille wore the kippah in public”.

How do you see the future of the Jews in his country?

Answer: “I think they have a future in France, at least I hope so, I hope that the French population reacts positively and will show solidarity with the Jews. I hope there won’t be another Vichy”.

Today my newspaper, Il Foglio, in Italy gave the readers a little gift: a white kippah, in response to yout request not to wear the kippah. What do you think?

“That is a wonderful initiative, and very important, it is an act of great solidarity with the Jewish people at this difficult time”.

“Marseille is the universe” wrote the poet André Chénier, whose head flew off under the guillotine of Robespierre. Today, the kippah flew off from the heads of the Jews of Marseilles.

Europe is now darker and lonelier.