Cnaan Liphshiz writes at the JTA:
To the millions of tourists who visit Nice annually, the city in southeast France is an ultimate holiday destination that offers inviting beaches and luxury casinos, stunning architecture and world-class museums. Sandwiched between the Maritime Alps and the Mediterranean Sea, Nice is France’s largest tourist destination after Paris, with 5 million arrivals each year and the country’s second largest domestic airport. Nice sees $1.6 billion in annual tourism revenue — 40 percent from its region known locally as Côte d’Azur and abroad as the French Riviera.read more
But Nice has a dark side, as demonstrated in the terrorist attack of July 14, when a Muslim extremist killed 84 people on the Promenade des Anglais by plowing his truck through the crowds gathered for a fireworks show on France’s national holiday, Bastille Day. After the attack, thousands of tourists checked out hurriedly from hotels that had not had occupancy issues in years.
The attack came as no surprise to many locals, including many of the city’s 20,000 Jews, who for years have been the targets of anti-Semitic attacks and harassment by members of a growing minority of fundamentalists from within the city’s large Muslim population.
“The only Jews you see walking around with a kippah are the foreign tourists,” said Chalom Yaich, a caretaker at the Michelet Jewish community center and synagogue. One of Nice’s dozen-odd shuls, Michelet is located next to a car repair shop at the northern downtown area about a mile and a half from the glitzier beachfront area.
“We locals have stopped wearing it years ago or covered it with a hat for safety,” said Yaich, 53. He was considering immigrating to Israel before the attack, he said, and is even more inclined to do so now.
“Many have left already because Nice is especially affected by France’s problem with Islam,” Yaich said, noting that its young Jews are especially prone to leave, either for Paris or Israel.
“We have an aging local population with an average age of 50 or 60,” he said.
Nice has at least 60,000 Muslims, or 17 percent of the city’s population, according to estimates published in Le Monde, compared to a national average of about 8 percent of the population. Indeed, more than a third of those killed in the attack were Muslim, the head of a regional Islamic association told The New York Times. Other estimates say 30 to 40 percent of the city’s population is Muslim.