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Jews in Nice who want to buy an apartment have to pay an added fee of â‚¬900-â‚¬7,000 to skirt an outdated Vichy government law still on the books which prohibits them from owning apartments in that city, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Even after the recent death of Vichy collaborator Maurice Papon, who was one of the forerunners in stripping French Jews of their rights and assets, there is a lingering and discriminatory presence hovering over the Jews of France.
The proprietary edict from the Vichy government stating that Jews are not allowed to own, or have joint ownership of, property is still embedded in the current legal system employed by the city council of Nice, situated on the French Riviera.
"The clause is disgraceful and illegal," Martine Ouaknine, spokeswoman for the Nice branch of the Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) told the Post from Nice.
The Nice Municipality confirmed that the law still exists, but downplayed its significance as a deterrent for Jews who wish to own prime real-estate in one of the wealthiest and most well known parts of Europe.
The law states that for someone to own a building, they have to make the following declaration: "[They] are French citizens", "[They] are not Jews" and "[They] are not the spouse of a Jew." "It would shock me to think that such a law exists today in France," said a French official in Tel Aviv. "The first measure the government took after the war was to retract the laws of the Vichy government."
However, the article has not been retracted. "The problem is that the clause is inside the contract, and people only pay attention to the price, not the stipulations. In December 2000, a bill was passed to modify the [property] laws and this clause will fall under the review," Ouaknine added.
"[The situation] is horrific. The owners and the syndicates must take the initiative to modify the law" said the CRIF Riviera President when interviewed by Nice-Matin reporter Jean-Francois Raubaud, "I don't know how such a law can exist. There should be no difference between Jews or Arabs or anyone else. There are many French Jews who have homes in Nice and all over the Riviera, myself included, and we were never asked our race, nor should we be," Rachelle Gutrach, whose late husband was a prominent French judge, told the Post.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.