By Hana Rose
In a predominantly Jewish suburb of Sarcelles, France, Anti-Jewish rioters have defied the ban that was placed by French police on a protest against Israel’s recent Gaza offensive.
Following a similar protest on Saturday in which pro-Palestinian youth burned cars and broke shop windows in an immigrant-dominated area, they set fire to cars once again, pillaged stores, and attacked two synagogues. The area’s main kosher grocery store, Naouri, and a local Jewish owned pharmacy were burned to the ground. In Garges, a synagogue was firebombed to which little damage was done. On Saturday, 38 protesters were arrested and 14 police officers were lightly wounded.
Hundreds of mainly North African and Arab youths brandished clubs and bars as they paraded through the streets shouting “Death to Israel.” As these protesters hung banners in front of Montmarte’s basilica reading “Palestine will Live” and “Israel Assassins,” they clashed with police, throwing stones and other objects. The police responded with shots from non-lethal guns and tear gas.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls condemned the rioters, saying, "What's happened in Sarcelles is intolerable: attacking a synagogue or a kosher grocery, is quite simply anti-Semitism, racism.”
France’s interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, has also spoken up, stating, "It is unacceptable to target synagogues or shops simply because they are managed by Jews," he said. "Nothing can justify anti-Semitism, nothing can justify that kind of violence. This will be fought and sanctioned."
Mr. Cazeneuve has also stated, "It's not banning protests that causes violence; it's violence that causes some protests to be banned.”
As the war between Hamas and the IDF continues, anti-Semitic attacks are increasing. The previous weekend also showed similar instances of anti-Semitism, when pro-Palestinian youth attacked two synagogues and Jewish stores. These demonstrations are blaming French Jewish citizens for Hamas’ attack on Israel which has prompted Israel to take action in order to stop the constant barrage of rockets on Israel.
A French Jewish activist currently living in New York, Rabbi Levy Djian, has said, “The fact that the Muslims feel free to act against the police and the government is very alarming because who knows what will happen tomorrow? Many are talking about going to Israel but this can not be the solution to this problem. There are still many Jewish communities in France and it is imperative that they should be safe and feel totally secure.”
President of the CRIF (the representative body of French Jewry), Roger Cukierman, stated in an interview with Le Monde Juif: “This new anti-Semitism can lead to the departure of all the Jews if Sharia becomes their state religion and we let ourselves be invaded by people who do not respect the government.”
France currently has Western Europe’s largest Muslim and Jewish populations.
In Germany, Jewish leaders have expressed shock at the anti-Semitic slogan chanted by pro-Hamas demonstrators, who have chanted “gas the Jews,” among other anti-Semitic chants. A German Jewish leader called the protests and there resulting violence an “explosion of evil and violent hatred of Jews.”
In North America, violence from pro-Palestinian demonstrators toward pro-Israel demonstrators has been seen in Los Angeles, Boston, Kansas and Calgary.