The Holocaust in France - Today - Antisemitism and Immigration

Antisemitism and Immigration

In the early 2000s, rising levels of antisemitism among French Muslims and antisemitic acts were publicized around the world, including the desecration of Jewish graves and tensions between the children of North African Muslim immigrants and North African Jewish children. One of the worst crimes happened when Ilan Halimi was mutilated and tortured to death by the so-called "Barbarians gang", led by Youssouf Fofana. This murder was motivated by money and fueled by antisemitic prejudices (the perpetrators said they believed Jews to be rich). In March 2012, a gunman, who had earlier killed 3 soldiers, opened fire at a Jewish school in Toulouse in an anti-Semitic attack, killing four people, including three children. President Nicolas Sarkozy said, "I want to say to all the leaders of the Jewish community, how close we feel to them. All of France is by their side."

However, Jewish philanthropist Baron Eric de Rothschild suggested that the extent of antisemitism in France has been exaggerated and that France was not an anti-semitic country." The Newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique had earlier said the same thing. According to a 2005 poll made by the Pew Research Center, there is no evidence of any specific antisemitism in France, which, according to this poll, appears to be one of the least antisemitic countries in Europe, though France has the world's third largest Jewish population. France is the country that has the most favourable views of Jews in Europe (82%), next to the Netherlands, and the third country with the least unfavourable views (16%) next to the UK and the Netherlands.

Rises in antisemitism in modern France have been linked to the intensifying Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Between the start of the Israeli offensive in Gaza in late December and its end in January, an estimated hundred antisemitic acts were recorded in France. This compares with a total of 250 antisemitic acts in the whole of 2007. In 2009, 832 acts of antisemitism were recorded in France (with, in the first half of 2009, an estimated 631 acts, more than the whole of 2008, 474), in 2010, 466 and, in 2011, 389. In 2011, there were 260 threats (100 graffitis, 46 flyers or mails, 114 insults) and 129 crimes (57 assaults, 7 arsons or attempted arsons, 65 deteriorations and acts of vandalism but no murder, attempted murder or terrorist attack) recorded.

Between 2000 and 2009, 13,315 French Jews moved to Israel, or made Aliyah, an increase compared to the previous decade (1990–1999 : 10,443) that was in the continuity of a similar increase since the 1970s. A peak was reached during this period, in 2005 (2005: 2,951 Olim) but a significant proportion (between 20 and 30%) eventually came back to France. Some immigrants cited antisemitism and the growing Arab population as reasons for leaving. One couple who moved to Israel claimed that rising antisemitism by French Muslims and the anti-Israel bias of the French government was making life for Jews increasingly uncomfortable for them. At a welcoming ceremony for French Jews in the summer of 2004, then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon caused controversy when he advised all French Jews to "move immediately" to Israel and escape what he coined "the wildest anti-semitism" in France. In August 2007, some 2,800 immigrants were due to arrive in Israel from France, as opposed to the 3,000 initially forecast. 1,129 French Jews made Aliyah to Israel in 2009 and 1,286 in 2010. However, in the long term, and even if France has the world's third largest Jewish community, France is not one of the top countries of Jewish emigration toward Israel. In November 2012, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a joint press conference with Francois Hollande advised the French Jewish community by saying "In my role as Prime Minister of Israel, I always say to Jews, wherever they may be, I say to them: Come to Israel and make Israel your home." alluding to former Israel Prime Minister's Ariel Sharon's similar advisement towards the French Jewish community to move to Israel back in 2004.

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Famous quotes containing the words immigration and/or antisemitism:

    The admission of Oriental immigrants who cannot be amalgamated with our people has been made the subject either of prohibitory clauses in our treaties and statutes or of strict administrative regulations secured by diplomatic negotiations. I sincerely hope that we may continue to minimize the evils likely to arise from such immigration without unnecessary friction and by mutual concessions between self-respecting governments.
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