(photo credit: REUTERS)
The French-Jewish community is “very shocked and angry” at their government’s response to the terrorism engulfing Israel, even as they fear local copycats will attempt to import the violence, a senior communal figure told The Jerusalem Post Sunday.
Speaking by phone from Paris, Robert Ejnes, executive director of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF), said he and his colleagues have repeatedly lobbied against French proposals to solve the conflict, often made without consultation with Jerusalem.
Referring both to the recent French proposals to push a timeline for two-state negotiations through the UN Security Council and this week’s call for the placement of international observers on the Temple Mount, Ejnes said he believes Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius believes he “should make peace by himself.”
“We as French Jews are very angry that he is taking this position and we have expressed it to him several times,” he said.
Ejnes described a perceived dichotomy between how European leaders approach local anti-Semitism, which is roundly condemned, and attacks against Jews in Israel, asserting that continental governments “do not at all understand the situation in Israel.”
“They think for some reason that we cannot understand that the terrorists who attacked [Paris kosher supermarket] Hyper Cacher are not the same as those in Israel and not motivated by the same motives,” he said.
“We can’t explain and we can’t understand this position,” he said. “It seems like they are transforming everything to be the fault of Israel.
They don’t want to consider the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority.
“They have no idea and do not believe that Israel is the only country that can protect the holy sites of all religions.”
Strong economic ties between France and Muslim states could account for such views, he said.
France last year experienced a 101 percent increase in anti-Semitic acts over 2013, including “numerous cases of physical violence against the Jewish community where individuals were targeted and beaten, and synagogues were firebombed,” according to a recent State Department report.
This led to an upswing in emigration, with 7,231 Jews making aliya – up from 3,293 in 2013.
The report cited events such as the burning of a kosher grocery in Sarcelles, linked to anti-Israel protests at which both anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments were voiced.
Ejnes said that thus far there has not been an upswing in incidents associated with the violence here as the community is well protected by the government in the wake of last summer’s clashes, that does not mean that French Jews are sanguine about their prospects.
“At the moment we are very worried about the ability of the French to duplicate what is happening in Israel, which they have always tried to do in some way like they did last year during the Gaza campaign,” he said, pointing about that the “majority of attackers are of Muslim, North African origin.”
And while the community’s official position remains that immigration to Israel should be motivated by love of the land and not by fear, “lots of people are considering aliya or departure from France because of the current situation; because of fear to take children to Jewish schools behind high walls and with [security] forces in front.”