Recent attacks on Jewish targets in France have fuelled an increasing exodus to Israel, with 2,200 Jews leaving France in the first six months of the year compared with fewer than 600 a year ago, according to France 24, a state-owned international television channel.
The report follows a series of protest demonstrations against Israel which descended into anti-Semitic violence.
A demonstration on Sunday in the north Paris suburb of Sarcelles – known as Little Jerusalem because of its large Jewish population — was the third to deteriorate into violence in a week. Jewish-owned shops were looted and riot police lobbed tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd.
The government responded to violence earlier this month by banning another demonstration planned in Paris on Saturday, and outlawing the march in Sarcelles.
Nevertheless an estimated 400 demonstrators arrived in Sarcelles, and they had petrol bombs, flagstones and in one case an axe, according to the Times.
The demonstration descended into chaos when dozens of youth — some masked — set fire to bins and lit firecrackers and smoke bombs. Eighteen people were arrested after looters wrecked shops, including a kosher food store and a funeral home as protesters shouted: “F**k Israel!”
Nearby, riot police blocked access to the local synagogue, where a group of young men stood guard armed with clubs and iron bars, one of them flying an Israeli flag.
According to an AFP report, François Pupponi, the mayor of Sarcelles said: “We have never seen such an outpouring of hatred and violence in Sarcelles. This morning people are stunned, and the Jewish community is afraid.”
On Saturday anti-Israel demonstrators in Paris also ignored the ban and gathered in the 18th arrondissement inside the northern edge of Paris, a district famous for the Basilica of the Sacré Coeur and Montmartre but also for the grim streets around the Porte de Clignancourt.
The demonstration began peacefully but soon cars were set alight and rioters threw stones at police. The police responded with tear gas.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls, speaking at a commemoration of the anniversary of the mass roundup of Jews in Paris on July 16 and 17, 1942, warned of “a new form of anti-Semitism.”
He said it was spreading “on the internet, on networks, in working class areas, among young people who are often aimless, who have no awareness of history, who hide their ‘hatred of the Jews’ behind the facade of anti-Zionism and behind hatred of the Israeli state.”