In the latest incident of a series of antisemitic attacks in France, a Jewish cemetery close to Strasbourg was vandalized and some 100 gravestones desecrated and spray-painted with Swastikas.
The cemetery is in Quatzenheim in eastern France, some 10 kilometers from Strasbourg.
A unit of the National Gendarmerie police force was despatched to the site and closed the cemetery upon arrival to collect evidence. The police believe that the vandalism was carried out by two people.
President of France Emmanuel Macron visited the cemetery Tuesday afternoon to stand in solidarity with the Jewish community.
“Anti-Semitism is the negation of what France is,” tweeted Macron on his journey to the cemetery, adding that he would be visiting the Holocaust memorial this evening in France “to recall the facts, the the biting facts of our history, and to say what the Republic is: a block against all of this.”
In December, a Jewish cemetery in the nearby town of Herrlisheim was also desecrated with 37 gravestones spray-painted with Swastikas and other graffiti.
Chief Rabbi of Strasbourg Rabbi Harold Abraham Weill said following the incident on Tuesday that the community was “outraged and and appalled” by the incident, and demanded an increase in security for the community’s institutions.
Weill, who is also a member of the Council of European Rabbis' standing committee, said he believed that the attack was carried out by far-right extremists Monday night ahead of planned rallies against antisemitism set to take place in dozens of French cities on Tuesday.
One of the gravestones was daubed with the words “Black Wolves,” a militant far-right separatist group from the Alsace region, where Quatzenheim is located, which was active in the 1970s and 1980s.
In one attack in 1976, the Black Wolves group set fire to and destroyed the Natzweiler-Struthof Nazi concentration camp located in Alsace.
Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog denounced the desecration of the graves, describing it as “another severe incident which underlines the antisemitism virus attacking Europe and threatening Jews in the streets,” adding “Governments, wake up.”
Minister of Aliyah and Integration Yoav Gallant called on Jews to immigrate to Israel in response to the vandalization of the cemetery and other recent antisemitic incidents.
He said that the desecration of the graves was a reminder of “dark days in the history of the Jewish people,” and “strongly condemned antisemitism in France.”
He noted that he visited the French Jewish community in Paris last week which he said was “under attack from antisemitism and assimilation,” and noted that “the State of Israel is a safe national house for Jews around the world.”
Meyer Habib, a Jewish member of France’s National Assembly, the French Parliament, said recent events were “raising severe question marks over the future of Jews in France,” saying the spate of antisemitic incidents were unacceptable.
“It’s as if we have gone back 70 years in time, said Habib. “I am outraged! France needs to take a deep look at itself on every level of the French people,” saying that “haters of Jews are walking around freely and raising their heads without shame or fear.”
The attack comes as dozens of rallies against antisemitism are set to be staged Tuesday evening across France in response to a series of high profile antisemitic incidents in France in recent weeks.
The rallies are being organized by 14 political parties and will take place in as many as French 60 cities.
French President Emmanuel Macron together with president of the Senate Gérard Larcher and president of the National Assembly Richard Ferrand will go to the Holocaust Memorial to “express their solidarity with the Jewish community in France" and to “reaffirm their commitment to the values of the Republic and their common determination never to give in to hatred and violence,” L’Express reported.
On Friday evening, teenagers shot a Jewish man with an air-rifle outside a synagogue in the Paris suburb of Saracelle, lightly injuring him.
Last Saturday “Yellow Vest” protestors hurled antisemitic abuse at French-Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, while a tree planted in memorial of Ilan Halimi, who was brutally murdered in 2006 was chopped down ahead of a memorial event for him in Paris.
And a government report released last week found that antisemitic attacks had spiked by 74 percent in 2018 over the previous year.
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