Friday, November 25, 2005

French Jews voting with their feet 
The number of French Jews emigrating to Canada has doubled every year for the last few years.
It's not hard to see why:

There have been dozens of synagogues and community centres firebombed, Jewish schools covered with anti-Semitic graffiti and set on fire, kosher shops peppered with bullets, and tombstones toppled and desecrated, a domino effect of nauseating proportions. In Paris, on the statue of Alfred Dreyfus, the words "sal juif" -- "dirty Jew" -- were painted in 2002, an epithet that has made a comeback in parts of France, although perhaps not spray-painted on brick or stone as often as "Jews Get Out..."

"We are emigrating to Quebec for our children. You will find that this is the case with many of the Jews leaving. Even with all the aggressions, we are in many ways comfortable here. We have nice homes, jobs, family and a rich cultural life. We just can't see a Jewish future in France. There are the attacks [by extremists], but almost worse, we feel there is lethargy in this country to help us against the abuses."

In 2002, the same year Jean-Marie Le Pen's extreme right Front National party came second in the general election, the same year hundreds of anti-Semitic crimes were recorded, the same year Le Monde published an article so searing in its anti-Jewish sentiment that a French court has since found its writers and editor guilty of "racial defamation," French President Jacques Chirac admonished a Jewish editor to "stop saying there is anti-Semitism in France. There is no anti-Semitism in France."

The French capacity for denial has always been nothing short of startling. Not only is it clear that Jacque Chirac is unwilling to confront the growing virus, but as the events of the last three weeks have demonstrated, France is wholly unwilling and unable to impose law and order in order to protect much of anybody - much less a despised minority.

We were very lucky that the French-Arab rioters stopped short of targeting Jews. Had they decided to turn their riots into pogroms, the devastation to the Jewish communities in France would be severe. And the French government would do nothing to stop them.

I wouldn't hang around long if I were a French Jew with a family depending on me to look out for them, either.

Splash, out


How do you say "Never again? Maybe just this once." in French.
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