FRANCE’S leaders are increasingly worried about the apparent rise of anti-Semitism in their country. Yesterday afternoon François Hollande, the president, called…
“Anti-Semitic acts and threats are getting worse every day,” said CRIF (the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France) in a statement, calling it an offshoot of terrorism that should be treated as such. Though there were far fewer anti-Jewish acts and threats in 2013 than in 2012, according to the Society for the Protection of the Jewish Community (SPCJ), since 2000 anti-Jewish violence is running at an average annual rate seven times higher than in the 1990s. Two-fifths of racist violence in France in 2013 was focused on Jews, the SPCJ says, though they constitute less than 1% of the population.
Laurent Fabius, France’s foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, his opposite number at the interior ministry, have a different view. In an unusual op-ed piece in the New York Timeson July 10th called “France is Not an Anti-Semitic Nation” they chose to compare the 2013 crop of anti-Jewish words and deeds with those of 2004, and found them far lower.
Even so, and spurred partly by sputtering economic prospects at home, French Jews are voting with their feet. Emigration to Israel is rising. The number of emigrants in 2013 (3,289) was 60% higher than in 2012 and this year more than 5,000 are expected to follow suit. Around 400 French Jews will reportedly leave France for Israel tomorrow, undeterred by the prospect of walking into a war zone.