PARIS — France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Tuesday the battle against anti-Semitism in the country “must be renewed.”
“There is this rampant Holocaust denial, hatred of Jews who grew up in our neighborhoods … that has contaminated the minds of some of our youth,” Valls said at a Tuesday night event at Paris’s Nazareth synagogue honoring the Jewish New Year.
“Today the fight must be renewed,” Valls said.
Anti-Semitic attacks and incidents have increased by 84% between January and May compared to the same period last year, according to the Protection Service of the Jewish community.
Valls said that “a broad government information campaign” would be launched this fall to raise awareness of the fight against racism and anti-Semitism.
The French government proposed a plan to combat anti-Semitism after January terror attacks in Paris that included the targeting of a kosher supermarket. Four people were killed in that attack.
“Each prefect, each [local] prosecutor was instructed to implement the regional component [of the national plan], especially its enforcement dimension, to punish offenses with all the severity of our laws,” the prime minister added.
The Jewish community of France numbers some 500,000 members, making it the largest national Jewish community in Europe.
Valls reiterated the French government’s appeal to French Jews tempted to go to Israel, primarily out of fear of anti-Semitism, to stay in France.
“Those who want to go to Israel,” he said, “no one can condemn them. But their place is here.”
France was the largest source for Jewish migration to Israel in 2014, with more than 6,000 French Jews moving to the Jewish state.
The figures look set to rise again in 2015, with 4,772 French Jews arriving between January and July, an 11% spike compared to the same period in 2014.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.