PARIS — French President Francois Hollande has used his New Year’s Eve television speech to say that the fight against racism and anti-Semitism will be his national cause for 2015.
Pointing out “the rising, worrying threats” of terrorism and fundamentalism, Hollande urged the French not to succumb to fear. He didn’t say how he would achieve his 2015 goal, but in an apparent reference to the far-right National Front, Hollande said France must remain in the eurozone.
French Jews have been targets of a spate of anti-Semitic attacks over the past year, the latest of which involved the brutal rape of a Jewish woman during a robbery of the Jewish couple in the Paris suburb of Creteil.
In December, French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said anti-Semitic acts and threats have more than doubled in the past 10 months and called for the authorities to ensure that “none of them goes unpunished.”
Speaking at a rally in Creteil, where the attack took place, Cazeneuve said: “We need to make the fight against racism and anti-Semitism a national cause by getting all bodies concerned involved.”
“The Republic will defend you with all its force because, without you, it would no longer be the Republic,” he added.
France has also seen an increase in acts of racism in 2014, according to government statistics. Examples included Muslim Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem and black Justice Minister Christiane Taubira both being the target of slurs.
France is home to some 500,000-600,000 Jews, the third largest Jewish population in the world, after Israel and the United States.
Tensions over the recent Gaza conflict spilled out into the streets in July with looters destroying Jewish businesses and shouting anti-Israeli slogans.
The number of French Jews who have moved to Israel in the first 10 months of 2014 has more than doubled compared to last year, the Jewish Agency has said, attributing the spike to a sluggish economy and a rise in anti-Semitic sentiment.
The number of French Jews who have moved to Israel in the first 10 months of 2014 has more than doubled compared to last year, according to the Jewish Agency, attributing the spike to a sluggish economy and a rise in anti-Semitic sentiment.
On Wednesday, the Jewish Agency said that immigration to Israel hit a ten-year high in 2014, with France at the top of the list of countries from which immigrants moved this year, with over a quarter — about 7,000 people — making the leap. It was the largest single-year movement of French Jews to Israel since the founding of the state.
AFP contributed to this report.