Sunday, August 27, 2017

France: Jews are now leaving their country in large numbers

Via Jewish Review of Books (Michel Gurfinkiel reviews James Kirchick's book, The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age):
(...) It is not, of course, from the right that the existential threat to the Jews of France has emerged, but from the very immigrants its rhetoric and policies have targeted (which is not, of course, to say that the National Front is philo-Semitic either). The “home to both the largest Jewish population,” as Kirchik writes, “and the largest Muslim population on the continent,” France has become a notoriously dangerous place for Jews. “Anti-Semitic attacks in France comprise 51 percent of all hate crimes even though Jews represent less than 1 percent of the population.” Most of this anti-Semitic violence, from harassment to arson, murder, and pogrom-like street violence, is perpetrated by radicalized Muslims. In 2006, there was the famous, horrific “kidnapping, three-week-long torture, and murderous dismemberment of twenty-one-year-old Ilan Halimi” in Paris by a Muslim-led gang who called themselves “the Barbarians.” In 2012, Mohammed Merah, an Islamist activist of Algerian descent, murdered or maimed four soldiers in Toulouse and Montauban in Southern France and then killed a Jewish teacher and three Jewish preteen children in Toulouse at point blank. In 2014, “at the height of the Gaza War, what can only be described as a pogrom descended on the Don Isaac Abravanel synagogue” in Paris. 
A crowd of several hundred people, chanting “Death to Jews” [in Arabic] and wielding iron bars and axes, tried to break into the building where about 200 worshippers were caught inside . . . Though French police rushed to the scene, one witness reported that, had it not been for members of the vigilante Jewish Defense League, “the synagogue would have been destroyed.” 
In 2015, in the wake of a mass shooting of journalists at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in central Paris, an ISIS supporter of Malian descent shot a policewoman near a Jewish school in Montrouge in southern Paris, and then, the following day, killed four hostages at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris. 
As recently as April 2017, as we were about to elect a new president in France, a 66-year-old Orthodox Jewish kindergarten director was tortured for an hour in her home in Paris by a young Muslim neighbor who was heard shouting “Allahu Akbar.” After throwing her lifeless body out of the window of her third-story apartment, he prayed. Although police at the scene delayed storming the apartment while waiting for the anti-terrorist unit, there is currently a roiling public controvesy as to whether this will be prosecuted as a hate crime. These are but the headlines of daily life in France over the last decade. 
No wonder then that the French Jews, in spite of their remarkable achievements as a community since 1945 and their no less remarkable contribution to French culture, are now leaving their country in large numbers. Two thousand French Jews emigrated to Israel in 2011. Four years later, Kirchick reports, the number had quadrupledIn fact, the decline is steeper than even these numbers suggest, for one has also to take into account those French Jews who settle in Israel as students or visitors without formally undertaking aliyah, not to speak of those who opt for other countries. Kirchick quotes the famous remarks of then–prime minister Manuel Valls after the January 2015 killing spree in Paris: 
Manuel Valls, the son of Spanish immigrants, declared, “If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore. But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France.” 
At the present rate of emigration, this will take no more than two decades, probably much less. And yet even if we Jews stay, France, and its Muslim communities, must figure out how they will be integrated into a modern democratic society if France is to remain a viable nation. 
Radical Islamic brotherhoods and preachers seem to understand their migration to an originally non-Muslim Europe as part of a religious-political conquest, and many Muslims in France seem to accept this radical Islamist proposition at some level. On this understanding, Europe’s very acquiescence to a multicultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious societal model appears to be an admission of weakness. Ironically, they have a point. The political class has, too often, been unable to confront immigrant communities, even when basic legal and societal norms are challenged. Muslim neighborhoods have indeed been turned into “no-go zones,” not ghettoes where minorities are secluded, but areas from which non-Muslims have been de facto expelled. 
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