This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, January 16, 2015:
On Sunday, January 11, just two days after the attacks in Paris, hundreds of French Jews attended an information fair to learn how to emigrate to Israel. Calling it an “Aliyah” fair — a Hebrew term to describe the “going up” to Jerusalem — the Jewish Agency for Israel has told its staff to prepare for an onslaught of those Jewish French citizens who have finally decided, thanks to the shootings by separate radical Islamist groups on Friday, to get out of town while the getting is still good.
Two years ago some 3,400 Jews emigrated from France, while last year that number doubled to over 7,000. It is estimated that at least another 10,000 will leave in 2015, with some observers predicting that France’s total population of 500,000 Jews will shrink by
100,000 over the next several years.
The attacks on Jews, coupled with the government’s closing of Jewish shops in their neighborhood following those attacks, along with the enforced shuttering of the Grand Synagogue of Paris (the first time since World War II), is leading many to make the decision to exit the country.
Attacks have accelerated greatly just over the last year, and are now being brought to light. As Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, the director of the Paris branch of the American Jewish Committee, exclaimed:
Hatred of Jews never ends…. Radical Islamists have struck violently, from the murders at a Jewish school in Toulouse two years ago, to repeated incidents of violence against Jews and synagogues in Paris, to the vicious rape of a Jewish woman in her own home, and today’s assault on a kosher supermarket in the middle of Paris.
Just a partial listing of such directed attacks against French Jews must include at least the following:
January 26, 2014: Protestors shouting “Jew, France is not yours!” at a street demonstration in Paris
March 2, 2014: A Jewish man is beaten while traveling on the Paris Metro by assailants who shouted during the assault, “Jew, we are going to lay into you! You have no country!”
March 20, 2014: A Jewish teacher is attacked leaving a kosher restaurant in Paris. After breaking his nose, his attackers drew a swastika on his chest.
May 15, 2014: A Jewish women was attacked while waiting for a bus in Paris’ Montmartre district by a man who violently shook her baby’s carriage and shouted at her: “Dirty Jewess! Enough with your children already! You Jews have too many children!”
June 9, 2014: Two Jewish teenagers walking with their grandfather to their synagogue in a suburb of Paris are attacked by four ax-wielding terrorists.
September 2, 2014: Two French teenage girls are arrested for planning to blow up a synagogue in Lyon. Intelligence sources said they were “part of a network of young Islamists.”
November 12, 2014: There were two separate attacks on Jews this day: a kosher restaurant is firebombed while a Jewish student was assaulted outside his high school.
But these are only one side of the story. The other side is the temporary alliance of radical Islamists, al-Qaeda, and ISIS, who worked together to coordinate the attacks in Paris last week, using Jews as convenient targets. As Hana Levi Julian, a Middle East new analyst with the Jewish Press, explained:
It is clear that Al Qaeda and ISIS, rivals who compete for the prestige of being able to claim control over the world of terror, have nevertheless found a way to work together when the goal is worthy…
The Jews of France are a convenient target.
Although the Jewish population in France is estimated to be between 500,000 and 600,000, it is dwarfed by the Muslim population, estimated to be 6.5 million, or about 10 percent of the country’s population. And their influence has been rapidly increasing everywhere, especially in the grade schools. When Marc Weitzmann was reporting live from the scene of the Paris kosher supermarket shooting on Friday, he noted two peculiar things:
One notable thing so far that I can attest to: on TV and on the radio, up to this moment, no one — no one — is mentioning or discussing that the hostages are Jews. No one. It’s strange.
The next morning, he noticed something else that quite unnerved him:
I spoke to a person who teaches in a high school in one of the suburbs. He told me that this is a complete disaster. Teachers are afraid to mention the events [to their students]. He told me that in his school students are asking to debate the massacre — and they are justifying it. 13-year-olds, 14-year-olds saying: “You shouldn’t insult the Prophet. The killing is justified.”
One vignette serves to illustrate the change in attitude among Jews, many of whom have lived there since the end of World War II. One of them, an elderly man whose son had been cowering in the freezer of the supermarket, expressed relief when his son escaped without harm. He told Gemma Mullin, a reporter on the scene for the British Daily Mail:
In the past year 7,000 Jews have already left France and after this there will be many thousands more.
We are not safe in France anymore. There is no future for Jews here in France. We are finished in France.
The invitation to complete their pilgrimage to Israel was made more enticing when Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, speaking at a rally of support at Jerusalem’s City Hall on Sunday, said:
Brothers and sisters — the gates of Jerusalem are open to you. Zion and the entire Jewish world stands beside you.
That invitation to emigrate was seconded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
To all the Jews of France, all the Jews of Europe, I would like to say that Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray, the state of Israel is your home.
The final impetus is the estimate that at least 1,000 Muslims have left France to join the radical Islamists’ jihad abroad, to get trained to commit additional future acts of terror. As journalist Julian expressed it: “Those fighters are expected at some point to return [to France] — as trained terrorists.”