Thousands take to streets of France after antisemitic attacks
Antisemitism appears to have reached its worst levels since the second world war, Emmanuel Macron told Jewish community leaders on Wednesday, a day after thousands of people took to the streets in France to denounce hate crimes. Political leaders from all parties, including former presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, gathered in Paris, filling the Place de la Republique, to decry anti-Semitic acts with one common slogan: “Enough!” Macron visited the national Holocaust memorial in Paris with the heads of the Senate and National Assembly.
Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in cities across France to protest against a recent rise in antisemitic attacks.
It comes amid a rise in anti-Jewish attacks in France, which is home to the world’s largest Jewish population outside of Israel and the US.
The government has warned antisemitism is “spreading like poison” in France, despite the trauma still felt after 78,000 French Jews were deported to death camps, aided by the French collaborationist Vichy government, during the Nazi occupation in the second world war.
French media have noted a rise in antisemitic attacks and graffiti on the margins of the gilets jaunes protests, which began in November as a fuel tax revolt and turned into a wider anti-government, anti-elite movement.
Some demonstrators have used antisemitic tropes to refer to Macron’s former job as a Rothschild investment banker, or made anti-Jewish salutes.
The rise in antisemitic attacks pre-dates the gilets jaunes movement. Last year, police recorded a 74% increase in reported anti-Jewish offences, causing alarm in a country that is home to the biggest Jewish population in Europe.
But many said the statistics could be even higher because not all attacks were reported.
Macron called the latest antisemitic attacks “the absolute negation of who we are and what makes us a great nation” and said they would not be tolerated. On Tuesday, he appeared to rule out suggestions by an MP in his party that anti-Zionism should become an offence in France. Macron said the solution was instead standing together as a country and “educating” people.
“Antisemitism is deeply rooted in French society. We would like to think otherwise, but it is a fact.”
said Édouard Philippe, the prime minister. “We must be totally determined, I would say almost enraged, in our will to fight, with a clear awareness that this fight is an old one and will last a long time.”