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Anti-Semitism Watch
Fear and Loathing for Jews in France

Has the time come for Jews to say au revoir to France? In an article for the forthcoming edition of Vanity Fair, Marie Brenner examines the causes of and justifications for the exodus of France’s Jewish population.

Brenner weaves a narrative that includes testimony from police and government officials, activists, fellow journalists, Jewish watchdog groups, a posh luxury goods executive, witnesses from a wide variety of anti-Semitic incidents and assaults throughout France, a Parisian Imam, and an eighteen-year-old, well-heeled, university-bound high school senior who is heartened at the idea that, in America, she could outwardly display her Judaism and live unmolested.

Among the key subjects is Sammy Ghozlan, a former police chief who, in retirement, established and still oversees a civilian advocacy group whose “purpose is nothing less than to protect the Jews of France.”

From the piece:

Moving back permanently was out of the question, but it hasn’t been easy for Ghozlan to disconnect. “I am deeply French,” he told me. “I did my military service in the air force. I love France’s values, its culture, its history, its cuisine, philosophers, and artists. I never imagined that I would someday leave. I led the fight for 15 years and all our warnings made no difference.” In 2014, about 7,000 Jews left France for Israel, and this year the anticipated exodus is between 10,000 and 15,000. The Jewish Agency for Israel recently reported that, in 2014, 50,000 French Jews made inquiries about moving to Israel, an astonishing number. In many of France’s public lycées, Jewish students are insulted, classrooms are vandalized, books are defaced, and fights break out in the classroom with any attempt to teach the Holocaust. […]

But Jews make up less than 1 percent of the French population. Even so, according to the S.P.C.J., they are the target of 51 percent of all racist acts in France. The country has become Israel’s biggest source of immigrants.

The tone of the article is straightforward and bleak, and largely mirrors the conclusion of a similar piece in the April issue of the Atlantic, bluntly titled “Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?” The author, Jeffrey Goldberg, concluded his essay with this thought:

I am predisposed to believe that there is no great future for the Jews in Europe, because evidence to support this belief is accumulating so quickly.

For Jews in France and the rest of Europe, emigration may be an appealing choice. A 2013 Pew poll revealed that, in that year, anti-Semitic hostilities had reached a seven-year high worldwide, Europe very much included. Last month, in Madrid, the head of the city’s culture department was forced to resign after he made a joke alluding to Jews in the gas chambers. In the thick of its financial meltdown, a poll revealed that 85 percent of Greece’s population believe that Jews have too much power over global finance. The list goes on. Yet for many, like Ghozlan, their European and national heritage is often as important to them as is their Jewish heritage (if not more). Brenner’s piece is a meticulously researched lens into these tensions. Read the whole thing here.

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  • FriendlyGoat

    Jews worldwide
    Israel – 6,103,200
    United States – 5,700,000
    France – 475,000
    Canada – 385,300
    Latin America – 383,500
    Britain – 290,000
    Russia – 186,000
    Germany – 118,000
    Australia – 112,500
    Africa – 74,700
    South Africa – 70,000
    Ukraine – 63,000
    Hungary – 47,900
    Iran – 20,000
    Asia – 19,700
    Romania – 9,400
    New Zealand – 7,600
    Morocco – 2,400

    • Tate Metlen

      What was the point of this post?

      • FriendlyGoat

        The point of this post IS NOT (as you may imagine) to be critical of Jewish people. The point of this post is for us to have a perspective on how many Jewish people there are worldwide (perhaps 14,200,000), and where they are living.

        I recently became aware of this estimated census and copied it here for general interest. We can note that 1) the overall number is relatively small compared, for instance, to some 1,500,000,000 Muslims and 2,000,000,000 Christians, 2) Most are already in Israel or the USA, 3) France, the subject here, is home to the third largest national population of Jewish people.

        To me, these are interesting insights we should all be aware of.

        • Ofer Imanuel

          Thanks for the post. It does provide some insights

        • adk

          I’ve seen estimates of what would the total Jewish population be today without the Holocaust: 135 million.

        • Pete

          ‘To me, these are interesting insights we should all be aware of.’


      • GS

        The point is this: with regard to France, one is talking of the current Jewish emigration rate of about 2-3% per annum. The interesting question to ask concerns the “social assets” [an expression used by the late Professor Geoffrey Cronje in a different context: some people are social assets, and some others are not]: to what extent are the emigrating social assets being replaced, and with what? The answer to this question defines the loss to France.

  • WigWag

    As for Greek antisemitism, it pays to remember that the vast majority of Greeks practice Orthodox Christianity which, unlike Roman Catholicism, has never exorcised hatred of Jews from the liturgy. Orthodox Christians are still often taught from the earliest age that the Jews are the muderers of Christ and the Easter Liturgy still calls for “revenge” against Jews.

    My guess is that if devout Russians, Serbs or Copts were polled, their antisemitic responses would be similar to those of the Greeks.

    It’s interesting to compare all of this with English-speaking Protestant denominations. In the United States, for theological as well as political reasons, many of these churches practice a form of Philosemitism, while the more mainline Protestant churches are increasingly inculcated by Jew-hatred.

    My suspicion is that the antisemitism that is expressed by Orthodox Christians is rather ritual in nature and of little practical consequence, while the new antisemitism of the Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists and other “liberal” congregations is both more venomous and dangerous.

    For an interesting take on Greek antisemitism, go here,

    • George Von Herman

      what I find fascinating is that the Indian church is also orthodox but does not have the same anti-semitism

  • wigwag

    The “Vanity Fair” article by Brenner should be read along with this absolutely extraordinary article from the New York Times magazine by Eliza Grunwold.

    The two articles read together provide a perfect and horrifying description of the world bequeathed to us by George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

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