Jews in masses leaving France due to anti-Semitism
At least 1,659 anti-religious acts were recorded in 2021, including 589 targeting Jews, official data shows
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The issue of anti-Semitism regularly crops up in France’s political debates particularly marked by a rising extreme right and negationist discourses.
For almost 10 years, the figures of anti-Semitism, both on the sides of associations and the Interior Ministry, showed an almost constant increase and make it possible to draw a link between the resurgence of anti-Jewish acts and the number of Jews leaving France.
Anti-Semitism rooted in society
In early 2022, the Foundation for Political Innovation, a French think tank, published a report aimed at highlighting anti-Semitism in France.
“From the yellow stars worn by demonstrators opposed to the health pass to the use by some of the pronoun 'who' to denounce the supposed stranglehold of Jews on the mainstream media, not to mention the notion of Jewish conspiracy brought up to date to explain the coronavirus pandemic, the year 2021 was marked by rising anti-Semitic incidents," the foundation lamented in the introduction of its annual report.
It also said such facts highlighted the persistence of prejudices against Jews within French society and anti-Semitism that thrives in times of crisis.
The report nevertheless established that the French are aware that anti-Semitism exists since 64% of them “believe that it is widespread.”
One third of anti-religious acts in France are anti-Semitic
According to official figures from the French government, 1,659 anti-religious acts were recorded in 2021.
Of these, 589 targeted Jews, 857 were against Christians, and 213 were against Muslims.
Two lawmakers, Isabelle Florennes of Hauts-de-Seine and Ludovic Mendes of Moselle, who were tasked by the prime minister with a mission on anti-religious acts in France, revealed in their report that “the most affected regions are Ile-de-France, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and the Grand-Est.”
“The Jewish community has seen a series of attacks targeting people, accounting for 52% of the incidents recorded, with a significant share of physical violence (10%, or 60 incidents recorded) – against the small proportion of the Jewish community,” the authors of the report said.
Significant number of Jews leaving France
In 2021, Israeli Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano Shata, the Jewish Agency and Nefesh B’Nefesh, an NGO, announced at a news conference that 3,500 French people had immigrated to Israel.
This figure therefore showed a clear increase from about 2,220 departures in 2019 and in 2020.
But earlier data even revealed that more Jews had left France between 2013 and 2017 in the wake of a spate of attacks that hit France in 2012.
For example, more than 1,900 left for Israel in 2012, while 3,120 others left in 2013.
In 2104, over 7,200 people left France, while it was almost 7,500 people in 2015.
There are currently about 467,500 Jews in France.
Obviously the doubling of departures can be linked to the massacres perpetrated by Mohamed Merah in March 2012 in a Jewish school in Toulouse, which killed four people including three children, and the attack on Hyperkosher food supermarket in January 2015, which left four people dead.
“Starting in 2012, with what happened at Ohr Torah School and elsewhere in France, departures climbed. These are often families who have been afraid of the turn of events. One could almost say that this is a generation of sacrifices: they left for their children,” Yves Bounan, president of the Consistory of Haute-Garonne, told La daily Depeche.
In a 2015 article in Le Figaro, lawyer Gilles-William Goldnadel argued that there was “no longer any doubt that Jews were leaving France though not in mass but regular and in significant numbers.”
According to Goldnadel, the Jews who leave France do not do so out of joy but after feeling helpless.
“They do not see, in view of the current policy pursued by the rulers, or in the eyes of certain media whose blindness they know, what could reverse the curve of renunciation in France,” he wrote.
They decide “we are free to leave France when it abandons you.”
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