Thursday, October 29, 2015

France: “A child celebrating a bar mitzvah in France today has not known anything but anti-Semitism"

David Horovitz @ The Times of Israel writes:

When I enter Sammy Ghozlan’s apartment in Netanya, he’s at his computer, looking at an email. It features a photograph of the metal shutters of a Jewish-owned optician store in Paris. Freshly painted graffiti on the shutters shows a Der Sturmer-style purple and black caricature of a hook-nosed Jew. It looks pretty horrible to me, but Ghozlan is not hugely fazed. Routine, he calls it wearily. Unremarkable. Just one more sign of the times.

A former Paris-area police commissioner, Ghozlan in retirement established a liaison organization between French police and the Jewish community, the BNVCA (National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism), alerting both sides to attacks and threats against Jews. He made aliya this summer, but will be paying frequent return visits to France, he says, and is still running the BNVCA. 

I’d arranged to meet Ghozlan after reading an August 2015 Vanity Fair profile of him, headlined “Paris is Burning,” which described him variously as a “Sephardic Columbo” and a “beat-up version of Yves Montand” and said he had made his police counter-terrorism reputation by identifying Palestinian sympathizers rather than neo-Nazis as the perpetrators of a 1980 synagogue bombing on Rue Copernic in which four people were killed. In retirement, it said, he has been “almost alone in his fight to protect the Jews of the banileues” — the suburbs surrounding Paris.

The question I most want to ask Ghozlan, 72, is whether his decision to move to Israel signals that there is no future for the Jews in France. And the answer he gives me is revelatory: “It’s not that there’s no future for the Jews in France. It’s that there is no future for the Jews in France that they want,” he says.

France is not 1930s Germany for the Jews, he elaborated. It’s not the regime, the government, that is persecuting them. Quite the reverse. The government is trying to protect them. But they are persecuted nonetheless, he says, to the point where you cannot wear a skullcap or a Magen David outdoors for fear of attack by Islamic extremists, cannot leave overtly Jewish material in your car for fear of it being torched. Which is why a record 10,000 French Jews are expected to have moved to Israel by the time this calendar year is over, up from 7,000 in 2014, and why there is every likelihood that 2016 will see a still higher exodus. [...]

Ghozlan even asserts that “the French public doesn’t care when the Jews get attacked. If there had been no attack on (the offices of the satirical magazine) Charlie Hebdo (in which 12 people were killed in January), the attack on the Hyper Cacher (kosher grocery two days later, in which four people were killed) would not have been a big deal in France.”  [...]

He points out that the Jews of France now need to live “under protection the whole time: schools and synagogues under military protection,” and says that’s not tenable. “A child celebrating a bar mitzvah in France today has not known anything but anti-Semitism,” he says. “And it’s the same in Belgium, in Spain and in Italy. And now with the migrants, Arab Muslims, you’ll see more Islamism and it’s going to get worse.” 

Does that spell more attacks like Hyper Cacher? “Yes, and the government knows it,” Ghozlan says emphatically. “The intelligence services have been a failure.” Attacks such as Hyper Cacher were carried out by suspects who were known to the authorities and yet were not intercepted. And more potential terrorists are being created all the time, he warns. “Those who carry out such attacks are seen as heroes of Islam. Petty criminals get out of jail and want to do an act of ‘Islamic penitence,'” he says. “They used to ask my friend, an imam, whether killing Jews will get them to paradise.”[...]  Read the whole piece here.

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