In just the latest act of anti-Semitic violence in France, three Jewish youngsters were on their way to synagogue in the Lyon suburb of Villeurbanne when they were insulted by three Muslim youths. The Jewish kids replied, and the Arab teens left — only to come back with five of their friends, armed with hammers and steel bars. These cowards then beat the Jewish youngsters in the middle of a busy street without anybody intervening. All three Jewish kids were severely injured; one of them is still lying in a hospital bed. Jean-Marc Ayrault, the newly elected socialist prime minister, waited two days to denounce “that unbearable violence” and express “solidarity with the victims.” If he’s truly sincere, let him wear a yarmulke and take the subway in France; the problem may just hit him in the back of the head shortly thereafter.
In Europe in general and in France in particular, antisemitism has been on the rise since 2000 and the beginning of the Second Intifada. So far, governments and lawmakers have reacted by condemning such “horrific” acts in the “strongest terms” and pointing out that “violence does not have a say in the republic.” Despite those beautifully phrased declarations, it remains difficult for Jewish youngsters on the streets of France to fight hammers and bullets with words. In March 2012, Mohamed Merah, a radical Muslim French citizen of Algerian descent, murdered three French paratroopers and one Jewish Rabbi along with three Jewish pupils in their schoolyard. A couple days later, the shooter was surrounded in his apartment by the French police and shot dead after a daylong standoff.
One would have expected such a horrific event to precipitate a decrease in anti-Semitic violence in France. Yet within just 10 days after Merah’s death, 90 aggressions against Jews were reported in France, according to the French Jewish Antisemitism Surveillance Bureau.
And Merah is seen in some areas as a hero. One teacher reportedly asked her students to observe a minute of silence for the “victim Merah.” In Merah’s neighborhood, the killer is seen as one of their own; graffiti keeps on appearing supporting his actions.
Mohamed Redha Ghezali was convicted for unapologetically declaring to the police at a demonstration “My friend Mohamed is a real man – I am sad he did not finish the job.”
Ghezali isn’t alone. Only the Jews, it appears, are.