France: Anti-Semitic attacks on the rise

'It is a situation that is becoming banal,' Joel Mergui told the Post.

Jewish cemetery (photo credit: Associated Press)
Jewish cemetery
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The president of the Consistoire Central, which organizes the French Jewish communities’ religious affairs, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that while anti-Semitic attacks in France were nothing new, he was alarmed at how “normal” they were becoming.
“It is a situation that is becoming banal,” Joel Mergui told the Post.
RELATED:French Jewish leaders tackle anti-Semitism, burqa banFrench Jews reclaim 'Jewish' names “When there is a problem, we get in touch with government, the government releases a statement, and it’s become a sort of protocol,” he added. “People are getting used to it, including the Jews, and that is something I don’t like at all.”
Mergui was speaking follow another of what appeared to be a rash of anti-Semitic incidents in France, when last week a monument dedicated to Jews who were deported by the Nazis during World War II was desecrated with offensive graffiti.
The monument, which is located in the southwestern city of Marmande, was defaced on August 4 with words in red paint reading, “lies,” “Zionism,” “interests,” and a dollar sign, the European Jewish Press reported.
According to additional reports, another swastika, accompanied by more graffiti, was found the following Saturday on a telephone booth near the memorial.
Mergui added that the connection between what he termed “anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism” was increasing.
“When something happens in Israel, there are those in France who use it as a pretext to attack the Jewish communities here, which is becoming more and more of a problem,” Mergui said.
While he declined to comment as to a potential connection between last week’s defacement of the monument and the border flare-up between Lebanese Army troops and the IDF, which took place the day before, Mergui did say that he felt France’s Jews had, in the past, faced such attacks based on events that transpired in Israel.
“French Jews have a very warm connection with Israel,” Mergui said. “They support Israel, they support the [Israeli] government’s attempts to protect its citizens and protect the land of Israel.”
“But that people attack Jews in the world because of what has happened in Israel, is to me just another manifestation of anti-Semitism and completely unacceptable.”
At the end of July, a number of kosher stores and restaurants in Paris were defaced with swastikas, along with a Jewish school and an apartment building in the city’s 11th District, which is home to a substantial portion of the city’s Jews.
That incident drew the condemnation of Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who released an official statement at the time expressing his “indignation following the discovery of swastikas on frontages of the Voltaire boulevard.
“Such acts, which recall the darkest hours of our history, should not remain unpunished,” Delanoe wrote.
Delanoe was presumed to be referring to the Nazi occupation of France from 1940-1944.
JTA contributed to this report.