France: Anti-Semitic attacks dropped 50 percent in 2010

French Envoy: Number of attacks by Muslims on Jews not disproportionate; credits police, education, and media vigilance.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
March 2, 2011 14:29
2 minute read.
Christophe Bigot.

Christophe Bigot. (photo credit: Press attachée, French Embassy in Israel)

 
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The number of anti-Semitic attacks in France dropped by half in 2010, French Ambassador Christophe Bigot announced on Wednesday.

According to official data presented by Bigot, 466 anti- Semitic incidents were recorded in France in 2010, in comparison to 832 in 2009.

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“[The cause for the decrease is] the police, the work of justice, the work of high-school education and the vigilance of the media,” Bigot said.

“It’s not only due to the relative calm in the region. There was the flotilla incident that could have provoked more attacks, but still we’ve seen a decrease,” said Bigot referring to Israel’s raid on a Gazabound ship that left nine activists dead and dozens wounded in May last year.

According to French statistics from 2010, the number of anti-Semitic incidents included one attempted murder of a Jewish individual, 56 violent attacks, eight arson attempts, 66 cases of sabotage or vandalism and 366 threats made against Jewish institutions or individuals.

Bigot said no official data exists on the personal backgrounds of the people behind anti-Semitic attacks in France or their motivations, but he rejected suspicions that a disproportionate number of perpetrators might be French Muslims.



“I am not sure there are more anti-Semitic attacks from this community,” he said, referring to French Muslims.

Attacks on Jewish institutions and individuals in France peaked in 2009 in a large part due to the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The 2010 numbers represent a return to the figures from 2008 when 474 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded.

Since 2004, the French government has allocated 15 million euros to increase security surrounding 349 synagogues and schools that serve the country’s estimated 600,000 Jews, the world’s second largest Jewish community outside of Israel. In addition, since December 2009, a specially appointed French government official has been coordinating efforts to battle anti-Semitism.

Bigot said at the press conference that France’s policy on fighting anti-Semitism has won praise from many Jewish leaders, including Anti- Defamation League head Abraham Foxman. He said his government would not tolerate any hate crimes and continue to try and reduce the number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2011.

“There is still a high-level of anti-Semitism in Europe,” Bigot said, “and not only should we not deny this, but we need to recognize it so we can fight it.”

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