A correspondent for the Jewish news site NRG donned recognizably Jewish clothing and proceeded to walk around Paris for ten hours. He wanted to see the reaction.
Correspondent Zvika Klein wore a kibbah (yarmulke) and a tzitzit, which are knotted fringes or tassels that hang down from the four corners of either a prayer shawl or from an everyday undergarment. Both kibbah and tzitzit are common sights in New York and other cities with sizable Jewish populations of observant, usually Orthodox Jews.
Klein points out that Paris these days is a city “where keffiyeh-wearing men and veiled women speak Arabic on every street corner” but where “soldiers are walking every street that houses a Jewish institution.”
“For 10 hours, I quietly walked down the streets and suburbs of Paris, with photographer Dov Belhassen documenting the day using a GoPro camera hidden in his backpack. Given the tensions in Paris, which is still reeling from a wave of terrorist attacks (including the murder of Charlie Hebdo magazine journalists), I was assigned a bodyguard,” he writes.
Klein started in the tourist areas which were relatively calm for his experiment, but as he walked further from them, “the more anxious I became over the hateful stares, the belligerent remarks, and the hostile body language.”
A boy allegedly said to his hijab-wearing mother, “What is he doing here, Mommy? Doesn’t he know he will be killed?”
Another boy shouted,“Viva Palestine!” One driver stopped and said, “What are you doing here? We’ve had reports that you were walking around our neighborhood — you’re not from around here.”
A Muslim merchant reportedly accosted him for wearing a yarmulke. Two men spat at him and yelled “Jew.” A group of thugs began stalking him and his bodyguard ordered them to “leave this area, right now.”
Klein’s experiment mirrors a similar one carried out a year ago in Copenhagen, the city that just erupted in Islamic terror with the shootings at a conference on free speech.
A year ago, the Israeli Ambassador to Denmark caused a scandal when he warned Jews traveling to Copenhagen to conceal Jewish characteristics, avoid wearing a yarmulke or a Star of David, or be heard speaking Hebrew.
Danish journalist Martin Krasnik was skeptical of the warning, believing Copenhagen was the European capital most welcoming of Jews. Krasnik put on a yarmulke and took a walk through the lower middle class neighborhood of Nørrebrogade.
He reports that the first Arab men he encountered told him, “I mean, you’re Jewish. But how can we know you’re not Israeli? If you’re an Israeli, we have a right to kick your ass.”
He was confronted by a group of “young immigrants” who shouted “Are you Jewish?” and giving Krasnik the finger. Another said, “Go to hell, Jew.”
Krasnik approached a small grocery store “where five or six young men, probably 25 years old, of Pakistani or Palestinian background were loitering outside. They stopped me immediately and asked, ‘Are you Jewish?’” They demanded he remove his yarmulke.
“We have to face reality, anti-Semitism is an import of the Middle Eastern conflict to Copenhagen,” Krasnik concluded. “Multiculturalism is simply not working as an ideology.” He pointed to a neighborhood called Mjølnerparken, where, according to 2003 census data, “92 percent of its resident are from non-Western backgrounds” from which a “parallel society” has emerged.
At the time, the mayor of Copenhagen said his city would not accept anti-Semitism, but that it should not be “overdramatized” either.
Will Danish Jews be that far behind the French?
Follow Austin Ruse on Twitter: @austinruse.