The number of anti-Semitic attacks in France last year decreased by 31 percent from 2012 — short of the level the Jewish community’s monitoring group was seeking.
In its annual report released Sunday, the SPCJ security organization recorded 423 anti-Semitic incidents in 2013 compared to 614 the previous year. The SPCJ is the French Jewish community’s watchdog on anti-Semitism.
“The decrease in anti-Semitic incidents in 2013 compared to the previous year failed to meet the level we had expected and hoped for,” SPCJ wrote in its report.
The 2013 figure was 8 percent higher than the 2011 numbers, the watchdog said.
According to SPCJ, hate crimes against Jews in 2013 constituted 33.2 percent of all 1,274 racist incidents recorded in France by the French Interior Ministry. Jews make up only 1 percent of the French population.
Among the 2013 incidents, 49 were classified by SPCJ as involving “physical violence” compared to 96 cases in 2012 — the year that an Islamist killed four Jews at a school in Toulouse — and 57 in 2011. SPCJ said the 2012 murder unleashed a wave of approximately 100 attacks on Jews across France and mainly in Paris within 10 days.
“Anti-Semitism in France cannot be considered anymore as a temporary situation associated with the situation in the Middle East; it is a structural problem that has not been fought as such and has not been halted yet,” SPCJ wrote in a statement released to the media with the report.
Threats and verbal abuses of an anti-Semitic character accounted for 152 cases, or 35 percent, of the total. In 2012 the figure was 219. Fifty-two incidents in 2013 involved “defacing and vandalism.”
About 100 incidents were recorded in the Paris area. Incidents in and around Marseille and Lyon accounted for another 48 combined.
One of the documented assaults was an attempted stabbing on Sept. 24 of a Jewish schoolboy in Paris. A passer-by saw the boy being attacked by a young man who was hurling anti-Semitic insults at the boy. The passer-by intervened and gave the boy a ride away from the scene on his scooter.