Attacks against Jews by anti-Israel demonstrators around the globe since the start of Israel’s Gaza offensive on July 8 are excuses for those biased against Jews to “vent their anti-Semitic hatred,” the president of the European Jewish Congress said on Monday.
In a statement issued in response to an attack on a Parisian synagogue on Sunday, Dr.
Moshe Kantor said that those involved in such incidents are “using the current conflict between Israel and Hamas to attack Jews.”
Opposition to Israel’s offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip has led to violence against Jews in the Diaspora, turning those unconnected with the ongoing conflict into a convenient proxy target in place of Israel.
On Sunday a mob surrounded the Synagogue de la Roquette in Paris, trapping its occupants inside and fighting with security.
Three members of the Paris Jewish community ended up in the hospital, according to a witness.
“The attackers splintered off an anti-Israel demonstration and advanced toward the synagogue when it was full,” said Alain Azria, a French Jewish journalist who covered the event.
Azria said when the demonstrators arrived at the central Paris synagogue, the five police officers on guard blocked the entrance as the protesters chanted anti-Semitic slogans and hurled objects at the synagogue and the guards. He said nearly 200 congregants were inside.
“They were determined to enter and the police did not have enough forces,” he said.
Azria said the mob was kept away by men from the SPCJ Jewish community protection service, the Jewish Defense League, and Beitar, who engaged the attackers in what turned into a street brawl.
“Thank God they were there because the protesters had murder on their minds and it took awhile before police reinforcements arrived,” he added.
In one attack in Belleville, north of the French capital, a firebomb was hurled at a synagogue, causing minor damage.
In another attack, a man pepper- sprayed the face of a 17-yearold girl.
“The fact that a synagogue full of worshipers was a chosen target demonstrates that the mob’s primary hatred is for Jews, and the Jewish state is an extension of that,” Kantor said.
“We should not allow any conflicts in the Middle East to be hijacked and imported as a vehicle for violence.”
Kantor added that, following a meeting with French President François Hollande last week, he is “confident that he and the French government are working hard to prevent anti-Semitism and to assure the safety and security of the Jewish community.”
A draft bill unveiled last week would ban French citizens suspected of ties to Jihadist networks from leaving the country, drawing praise from the World Jewish Congress.
Over the past several days a number of incidents of anti-Jewish violence have occurred around the world.
Moshe Ohayon, a Moroccan rabbi, was “beaten up over Gaza” in Casablanca over the weekend, Al Arabiya reported, and several people described being assaulted during a protest in Boston on Friday, which drew condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League.
The ADL called the accounts of assaults and anti-Semitic name-calling at the protest, including the use of the term “Jesus-killers,” disturbing.
“People of good faith everywhere should regard this conduct as an affront to decency,” said Robert Trestan, New England regional director of ADL.
JTA contributed to this report.