Anti-Semitism on the Rise: Report from Paris

Paris-Gaza-750I’m recommending a well-written and documented article on anti-semitism in Paris, Gaza Protests in Paris: Pro-Palestinian or Anti-Jewish?  I’ll share only a large excerpt here and encourage you to read the entire post.

I wish that the conflation of anti-Jewish sentiment and anti-Zionism was an accident. If that were so, people could be made to realize and adjust behavior. But the real answer is that anti-Zionism is largely being used as an easy cover for anti-Jewish sentiment. It’s happening around the world, but let’s talk about Paris because I live there. I don’t speak for Parisian Jewry, but only for myself in the capacity as an American Jew who is engaged with Judaism culturally.

Before I moved, I assured friends who voiced concerns about the anti-Jewish sentiment in France that there is a strict divide between state and religion. Technically, it’s equally as frowned upon to wear a Star of David necklace as a cross in public schools here. No need to worry. Well, now I’m learning my lesson, as I’ve been encouraged by Jewish leadership here to not wear any jewellery that would identify me as a Jew, and to avoid speaking on the phone in public about Jewish topics.

Some will think this advice stems from paranoia. Well, when there is the distinct possibility of being targeted with tear gas, pepper spray, a taser or an axe just because you are a Jew, I think you’d be a little jittery too. Those attacks on Jews occurred well-ahead of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza…

A French acquaintance told me not to worry because I don’t look Jewish — what the hell does it even mean? But this advice flags two issues for me. First, what about the Jews who do look Jewish or wear traditional garb? And what if I want to use Yiddish words when I call my mother from the park? Second, regardless of how I look, I do live within Jewish Paris to some extent, which happens to not be far from where anti-Jewish violence in the name of anti-Zionism has taken place — I frequent a liberal synagogue, I have a favorite falafel place in the Jewish Quarter. As such, I have felt my personal security threatened in ways I have never felt in any other country — and I’ve been to and lived in a good few, including Belarus and South Africa

Okay, have your own opinions about the conflation of anti-Jewish sentiment with anti-Zionism here in France, and in Germany, and in Austria … and in Canada. The length of that list and the places on it are chilling. It can’t be so hard to see that anti-Zionism can be legitimate (though I bet you can guess my stance), but conflating it with anti-Semitism is dangerous, hateful and perpetuates severe cycles of xenophobia, hatred and violence. Is using media like Facebook to hunt down Jews and encourage violence in any way related to the pro-Palestinian cause?

I challenge true pro-Palestinian supporters, those who do not conflate the issue with anti-Semitism: Aren’t you ticked off by those using your cause as nothing more than a guise to excuse their own hatred of Jews? I would think you are peeved — at the very least — that those who use protests to perpetuate anti-Jewish sentiment deflect attention from your cause. I challenge you to try to stop the conflation of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, if not for moral decency, and if not for my good and that of your Jewish neighbors, then at least for your own good…

The photo comes from the original article and is attributed to:
Olga Besnard /

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