With French anti-Semitism up, Jews head to UK

Jewish community of France trickles across the English Channel to escape rising tide of hate

Illustrative photo of anti-Semitic graffiti (CC BY-zeeweez, Flickr)
Illustrative photo of anti-Semitic graffiti (CC BY-zeeweez, Flickr)

With anti-Semitic attacks in France increasing at an alarmingly high rate, many French Jews have left for the UK, and more than 25% are considering leaving.

The number of anti-Semitic acts committed in France increased by 58 percent, a total of 614 acts, in 2012, compared to 389  incidents in 2011, a recent SPJC report found. Four people were killed in those attacks, three of them children, and two more were wounded.

Former Parisian Sandra Dahan Elbase, 29, now lives in Cambridge with her French husband.

“In Paris I would never wear a Magen David walking around, I was even afraid to read a book in Hebrew on the Metro. There was a climate of fear,” she told the Jewish Chronicle.

In fact, so many French Jews have left for English shores that St John’s Wood Synagogue in London has established French-language Shabbat services, regularly attended by some 120 French Jews, the report said.

In the 10 days following a deadly attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse in March, 2012, 90 separate anti-Jewish hate crimes were recorded — five times the average number, the SPJC report said.

The increase in anti-Semitism prompted UK chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, to wonder if Jews truly had a home in Europe.

“The position of Jews in Europe today is very difficult,” he was quoted as saying. “There are threats at this moment to brit mila [circumcision] and shechita [ritual slaughter], and Jews in Europe have begun to ask, is there a place for us here?”

The problem has become so widespread that, according to an Israel Project survey cited by the Chronicle, “more than a quarter of the half-million strong French Jewish community had grown so disgusted with antisemitism that they were considering emigrating.”
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