Monday, January 18, 2016

France: "If I got out of my house with a kippa I would be asking for trouble"

Shirli Sitbon @ Haaretz (h/t glykosymoritis):
But the truth is that many French Jews abandoned the kippa years ago. They wear them in synagogues and at home, but not on the streets, where they have traded them in for various hats.

In some of the safer areas, like within Paris, those who are now abandoning their skullcap believe they’re making a temporary, tactical choice, a small sacrifice that will ensure their own safety until the situation calms down. But in several suburbs around Paris, Jews believe that covering their kippa on the street is the only sane choice – and it’s a permanent situation. For some of them, wearing one is not an act of bravery but a provocation. That’s what one Jew in Bobigny, north-east of Paris, told me.

The treasurer of the local community, he lives in one of the more dangerous neighborhoods, called ‘l’Abreuvoir’, where one of the terrorists who attacked Paris in November, Brahim Abdeslam, rented a house.

“Everything is fine here,” Eliyahu Elbaze told me.

“If everything is fine would you go out into the street with a kippa?" I asked the treasurer.

“Come on, be serious. If I got out of my house with a kippa I would be asking for trouble,” he answered.

Wearing a kippa, for those who don’t have bodyguards, can be dangerous depending on the area.

That’s the reality for many Jews. But hearing Tzvi Amar, a community leader, saying that aloud is intolerable for some people. It’s like conceding defeat. Admitting that people are scared and that the French authorities can’t always protect them.

Even the teacher attacked on Monday in Marseille, Benjamin Amsellem, decided to wear a cap after the assault.

“Maybe had he been wearing a cap on Monday, he wouldn’t have been attacked,” said the victim’s wife, Mazal.

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