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Antisemitic incidents in France increased by 75% in 2021

Jewish community’s main watchdog group recorded 589 hate crimes against Jews, including a 36% jump in physical assaults, with many attacks carried out by neighbors

Protesters march with a banner of killed Jewish woman Sarah Halimi, during a demonstration in Marseille, southern France, April 25, 2021 (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
Protesters march with a banner of killed Jewish woman Sarah Halimi, during a demonstration in Marseille, southern France, April 25, 2021 (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

JTA — Reports of antisemitic incidents in France increased by 75 percent in 2021, according to the French Jewish community’s main watchdog group.

SPCJ recorded 589 hate crimes against Jews last year, including a 36% increase in physical assaults over 2020. The group released its annual report Wednesday.

Incidents targeting people – as opposed to communal buildings and institutions – accounted for 45% of all incidents in 2021. Of those, 10% were physical assaults.

A quarter of all incidents happened inside or just outside the victims’ homes, typically perpetrated by a neighbor, SPCJ wrote, adding this was a new and worrisome phenomenon.

Use of weapons, mostly knives and guns, in antisemitic incidents was also unusually high in 2021, occurring in 20% of all assaults and 10% of all cases of intimidation, the report said.

In nearly a third of all cases, perpetrators indicated they were motivated by issues connected to Palestinians, the report added.

A man holds a placard during a protest organized by Jewish associations, who say justice has not been done for the killing of French Jewish woman Sarah Halimi, at Trocadero Plaza near Eiffel Tower in Paris, April 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Dozens of incidents happened within the space of 11 days in May, when Israel and Hamas were exchanging fire amid rioting by Israeli Arabs and attacks on Arabs by Israeli Jews. During that period, SPCJ documented on average five antisemitic incidents per day.

Out of 160 incidents that SPCJ classified as “violent crimes,” 60 were assaults against people. There were three cases of arson and 68 incidents involving antisemitic vandalism. Additionally, SPCJ recorded 429 cases of what the group classified as “intimidation.”

In one incidents from 2021, guards protecting a Jewish school in Marseille overpowered a man wielding a knife whom they suspected intended to stab patrons at a nearby kosher store and bakery.

In another, occurring a month later, Jewish residents of a Paris suburb chased and overpowered a man who witnesses said tried to stab three Jews. They handed him over to police.

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