Culte Morbide Antisemetic Méprisable de Haine: Hundreds of Graves Desecrated at Jewish Cemetery in Eastern France

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Tombstones Upended and Broken at Cemetery in Sarre-Union

PARIS — Sam Schechner reports: As many as 300 graves were desecrated at a Jewish cemetery in eastern France, officials said Sunday, the latest escalation in a wave of anti-Semitic violence in Europe.

“Everything will be done to make sure those responsible for the odious and barbaric act will be identified and punished. France is determined to fight relentlessly against anti-Semitism and those who would attack our values.”

— French President François Hollande

French officials are searching for an unknown number of assailants who upended or broke tombstones and headstones in roughly three quarters of the 400 graves at a historic Jewish cemetery in Sarre-Union, a small town near France’s border with Germany, a person familiar with the inquiry said.

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“Everything will be done to make sure those responsible for the odious and barbaric act will be identified and punished,” said French President François Hollande. “France is determined to fight relentlessly against anti-Semitism and those who would attack our values.”

The attack is the latest in a series across Europe that has targeted Europe’s Jews, raising concerns over whether authorities are doing enough to stem a rise in anti-Semitism. Read the rest of this entry »


French Prime Minister: ‘The Charge of ‘Islamophobia’ is Used to Silence People’

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Manuel Valls argues that the accusation of Islamophobia is often used as a weapon by Islamism’s apologists

 writes: The prime minister of France, Manuel Valls, has emerged over the past tumultuous week as one of the West’s most vocal foes of Islamism, though he’s actually been talking about the threat it poses for a long while.

“Anti-Muslim feeling appears to be more widespread than anti-Jewish feeling across much of France, but anti-Jewish feeling has been expressed recently (and not-so-recently) with far more lethality, and mainly by Muslims.”

During the course of an interview conducted before the Charlie Hebdo attacks, he told me—he went out of his way to tell me, in fact—that he refuses to use the term ‘Islamophobia’ to describe the phenomenon of anti-Muslim prejudice, because, he says, the accusation of Islamophobia is often used as a weapon by Islamism’s apologists to silence their critics.

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Most of my conversation with Valls was focused on the fragile state of French Jewryhere is my post on his comments, which included the now-widely circulated statement that, “if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France”—and I didn’t realize the importance of his comment about Islamophobia until I re-read the transcript of our interview.

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“It is very important to make clear to people that Islam has nothing to do with ISIS,” Valls told me. “There is a prejudice in society about this, but on the other hand, I refuse to use this term ‘Islamophobia,’ because those who use this word are trying to invalidate any criticism at all of Islamist ideology. The charge of ‘Islamophobia’ is used to silence people.”

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“It is very important to make clear to people that Islam has nothing to do with ISIS. There is a prejudice in society about this, but on the other hand, I refuse to use this term ‘Islamophobia,’ because those who use this word are trying to invalidate any criticism at all of Islamist ideology.”

Valls was not denying the existence of anti-Muslim sentiment, which is strong across much of France. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdoattack, miscreants have shot at Muslim community buildings, and various repulsive threats against individual Muslims have been cataloged. President Francois Hollande, who said Thursday that Muslims are the “first victims of fanaticism, fundamentalism, intolerance,” might be overstating the primacy of anti-Muslim prejudice in the current hierarchy of French bigotries—after all, Hollande just found it necessary to deploy his army to defend Jewish schools from Muslim terrorists, not Muslim schools from Jewish terrorists—but anti-Muslim bigotry is a salient and seemingly permanent feature of life in France. Or to contextualize it differently: Anti-Muslim feeling appears to be more widespread than anti-Jewish feeling across much of France, but anti-Jewish feeling has been expressed recently (and not-so-recently) with far more lethality, and mainly by Muslims.

“Can hostility to the various related ideologies of Islamism—ideologies rooted in a particular reading of Muslim texts, theology, and history—be properly defined as Islamophobic?”

It appears as if Valls came to his view on the illegitimacy of ‘Islamophobia’ after being influenced by a number of people, including and especially the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner and the writer (and fatwa target) Salman Rushdie. Rushdie, along with a group of mainly Muslim writers, attacked the use of the term ‘Islamophobia’ several years ago in an open letter: “We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of ‘Islamophobia’, a wretched concept that confuses criticism of Islam as a religion and stigmatization of those who believe in it.”

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“We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of ‘Islamophobia’, a wretched concept that confuses criticism of Islam as a religion and stigmatization of those who believe in it.”

Bruckner argued that use of the word ‘Islamophobia’ was designed to deflect attention away from the goals of Islamists: “[I]t denies the reality of an Islamic offensive in Europe all the better to justify it; it attacks secularism by equating it with fundamentalism. Above all, however, it wants to silence all those Muslims who question the Koran, who demand equality of the sexes, who claim the right to renounce religion, and who want to practice their faith freely and without submitting to the dictates of the bearded and doctrinaire.”

[Also see – REPEAL THEM NOW: Hate-Speech Codes Won’t Protect Europe From Violence]

It is difficult to construct a single term that captures the variegated expressions of a broad prejudice. ‘Anti-Semitism,’ of course, is a terribly flawed term to describe anti-Jewish thought or behavior, and not only because it was invented by an actual hater of Jews, Wilhelm Marr, to prettify the base hatred to which he subscribed. Read the rest of this entry »


France Was Supposed to Be a Safe Haven for Jews Fleeing North Africa Decades Ago

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French Jews Face Hate They Left Africa to Escape

PARIS — Yaroslav Trofimov, Ruth Bender and Jason Chow reporting: Every Friday, Johanna Bettach, a pregnant mother of two, stocks up on weekend supplies at the Hyper Cacher supermarket. Last week, just before she was getting ready to shop, an Islamist militant gunned down four Jewish customers at the kosher store and took many others hostage.

The Hyper Cacher attack, one of the deadliest against France’s Jewish community since World War II, spurred outrage across the country. It was by no means isolated, coming against a backdrop of acts of violence and intimidation.

Policemen guard a Jewish school in Sarcelles, France, Thursday. Agnes Dherbeys for The Wall Street Journal

Policemen guard a Jewish school in Sarcelles, France, Thursday. Agnes Dherbeys for The Wall Street Journal

Just three months earlier, Ms. Bettach said, she found her mezuzah—a box containing a parchment of Torah verses that religious Jews attach to their doors—torn off and thrown out.

“I wish to tell all French and European Jews: Israel is your home.”

— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

“It is going from bad to worse in France, and we know that it is not going to stop,” said Ms. Bettach, 33 years old. “I can’t sleep at night anymore. All day when my kids are at school, I worry. I just don’t see any future for my children in this country.”

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Johanna Bettach, shown at home with her daughter, was a regular shopper at the Hyper Cacher in Paris. AGNES DHERBEYS FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Three-quarters of France’s roughly half-million Jews are, like Ms. Bettach, of North African origin, Jewish community officials estimate. Their families moved to the safety of France mostly in the period between Israel’s creation in 1948 and Algeria’s independence in 1962, as persecution and discrimination emptied out the once-huge Jewish communities of former French possessions across the Mediterranean.

France has the world’s third-largest Jewish population after Israel and the U.S., according to most estimates. “We chart-israel-FRneed to act,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Saturday as he paid homage to the victims of the Hyper Cacher attack. “France without Jews is no longer France.”

“They had come to the French Republic with the conviction that things would not happen that way again. Now, they have a feeling that they are reliving what they themselves or their parents had lived through already.”

— Elisabeth Schemla, a prominent French Jewish writer and editor

In 2013, the last full year for which data have been compiled, there were 423 reported anti-Semitic incidents in France, compared with 82 in 1999, according to the Jewish Community Security Service, a joint body created by France’s main Jewish organizations that compiles data based on police reports.

Much of the recent upsurge of anti-Semitic violence in France has occurred in rundown towns likes Sarcelles, a north Paris suburb where Jews of Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian origin live alongside Muslim immigrants from the same countries. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] White House to Ed Henry: We’re Actually Not Sure What Obama Did Instead of Going to Paris

“I haven’t spoken to the president about what he did yesterday. I guess I prepared for a lot of questions today, but I did not prepare for a question based on what the president was actually doing yesterday.”

From Andrew Johnson, at The Corner: President Obama’s absence at Sunday’s Unity Rally in Paris had many scratching their head what he did instead, including his own press secretary.

“I haven’t spoken to the president about what he did yesterday,” Josh Earnest told Fox News’s Ed Henry during Monday’s briefing. “I guess I prepared for a lot of questions today, but I did not prepare for a question based on what the president was actually doing yesterday.”

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On less than 36-hours notice for the outdoor march, Earnest explained that the president’s attendance proved difficult to coordinate due to security protocols. Additionally, the White House worried that security measures would have impacted other participants’ ability to take a part in the rally. Read the rest of this entry »


Muslim Hero Saved Jews in Grocery Store


BREAKING: Police Launch Assault, Explosions & Gunfire Heard at Paris Siege

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16:01 Friday 9 January 2015: French security forces are now thought to be moving in on 2 brothers behind Wednesday’s magazine massacre in Paris.

The pair have been holed up with a 26 year old hostage at the Danmartin print works in a town 30 miles north east of Paris.

In the past few minutes a series of explosions and gunfire has been seen and heard in the area. The firing appeared to last for roughly ten seconds. Smoke has been seen rising from the building.

Meanwhile, a gunman – believed to be the same man that killed a female police officer yesterday morning – has taken at least six hostages at a Jewish supermarket in eastern Paris. Read the rest of this entry »


REWIND: France’s Jews Flee As Rioters Burn Paris Shops, Attack Synagogue

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“What happened in Sarcelles is intolerable. An attack on a synagogue and on a kosher shop is simply anti-Semitism. Nothing in France can justify this violence.”

— France’s prime minister Manuel Valls

JULY 2014: France’s politicians and community leaders have criticised the “intolerable” violence against Paris’ Jewish community, after a pro-Palestinian rally led to the vandalizing and looting of Jewish businesses and the burning of cars.

It is the third time in a week where pro-Palestinian activists have clashed with the city’s Jewish residents. On Sunday, locals reported chats of “Gas the Jews” and “Kill the Jews”, as rioters attacked businesses in the Sarcelles district, known as “little Jerusalem”.

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Manuel Valls, France’s prime minister said: “What happened in Sarcelles is intolerable. An attack on a synagogue and on a kosher shop is simply anti-Semitism. Nothing in France can justify this violence.”

Religious leaders gathered for an interfaith service on Monday to call for calm, and Haim Korsia, the chief rabbi of France, and Hassen Chalghoumi, the imam of Drancy shook hands on the steps of the synagogue.

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Francois Pupponi, the mayor of Sarcelles, told BFMTV that the violent attacks were carried out by a “horde of savages.” Read the rest of this entry »


Jews See Need to Defend Themselves in France

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Synagogues are targets during increasingly violent protests against Operation Protective Edge

For The Times of IsraelCnaan Lipshiz reports: For the past 14 years, French Jews have grown accustomed to coming under attack during periods of conflict in the Middle East from hostile elements within their country’s large Arab and Muslim communities.

One recent incident, however, stood out: the July 13 riot by Palestinian sympathizers outside the Synagogue de la Roquette in central Paris that trapped some 200 terrified people inside the building. A street brawl ensued between the rioters and dozens of Jewish men who arrived to defend the synagogue.

“In people’s minds, there will be a before and after the Synagogue de la Roquette,” Joel Mergui, president of the Consistoire, French Jewry’s central religious services organization, told the French newsweekly Le Nouvel Observateur.

The incident involved pro-Palestinian protesters who reportedly had just come from a large demonstration against Israel’s airstrikes in Gaza.

The violence drew a stern rebuke from French President Francois Hollande. Read the rest of this entry »