As morning rose on the Sabbath, rocked by an anti-Semitic terror attack and with numerous synagogues and other Jewish institutions throughout France under heavy security, many French Jews said they felt in more danger than ever in their homeland.
French newspaper Le Figaro reported on the “palpable” fear in the Jewish community following Friday’s attack at a kosher grocery store — only the latest in a string of anti-Semitic attacks in recent years.
Moshe Lewin, an advisor to France’s Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia, told Le Figaro that French authorities owed the Jewish community explanations on the measures being taken to guarantee its security.
“If the means being used are not sufficient, the efforts of the chief rabbi to convince French Jews not to leave the country will be in vain,” he warned.
One young rabbi who refused to be identified told the paper he did not know whether he would reopen his synagogue.
“It’s not even panic, it’s worse,” he said. “The people of the community do not dare leave their homes.”
“We are shocked,” said Parisian rabbi Chaim Schneour Niesenbaum. “All the values of the West are under attack.” However, Niesenbaum insisted that the community would not allow the terrorists a victory. “We will not change our lifestyles,” he said.
Stephen Pollard, the editor of The Jewish Chronicle described the “exodus” of French Jews in an article for the Telegraph, saying that 10,000 had previously been expected to emigrate to Israel this year — a number he expected to rise significantly in light of this weeks events.
“Every French Jew I know has either already left or is working out how to leave,” he noted. “When it comes to home grown anti-Semitism, France leads the world.”
Daniel Corcos, a Jewish Parisian who frequents the kosher shop targeted by terrorists told the Wall Street Journal: “It is impossible to live like this.”
“The Jew isn’t safe in France,” he said. “You go to buy food, and you’re dead.
“If you think a lot of Jews left France last year, this year the number is going to be five times higher,” he added.
A man identified as T. Meyer told the Journal he was not surprised by the attacks.
“There are too many crazy people, and I don’t think this will stop. I don’t have much hope that France will take the required forceful measures of finding and kicking out the extremists. France isn’t strong enough to (do) something like that.”
Sacha Reingewirtz, the president of the French Jewish Student Union, told USA Today France had become unsafe for anyone outwardly identifying as Jewish.
“What the government is doing to protect us is not enough. I refuse to have Jews here living behind walls in fear of their lives,” he said. “We need more than a security plan but an educational plan to fight against stereotypes.”
The BBC’s Katie Razzall also reported on the climate of fear in the Jewish community, noting that many were unwilling to be interviewed on camera, fearing for their safety.
“From conversations we’ve had, it’s clear that around the Sabbath tables tonight they’re asking whether France is still a place they can call home,” she said.