Jewish survival in France: Will European history repeat itself?

Over the past several dozen years, French officials and journalists have routinely characterized the Palestinian slaughterers of unprotected Israeli civilians as "militants."

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February 2, 2015 17:05
Bordeaux synagogue

Members of the Jewish community at the synagogue in Bordeaux, southwestern France. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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History always has its pride of place. Even before the present moment, when French Jews feel themselves especially threatened, there have been enduringly serious problems of Jewish group survival in France. Even before the incendiary issue of Islamic radicalism arose in France, a genuine scourge that now imperils virtually all non-Muslims (and also some Muslims) throughout Europe, the country’s Jews had been exposed to almost every conceivable kind of imposed suffering. During the Holocaust, of course, this suffering had included genocide, a since-codified crime against humanity, and one carried out by Germany’s more or less willing French surrogates.

Sarah’s Key, an appropriately celebrated 2010 film, reminded its viewers of largely systemic French collaboration with Nazi aggressions against the Jews. For a time, it had been widely and charitably believed, France actually carried on quite heroically under the German occupation. In fact, as we now know, the 1942 roundups in occupied France were not executed by the SS or Gestapo directly, but rather, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, by the ordinary French police.

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