Monday, November 21, 2005


French Antisemitism: Getting Worse

As seen at

PARIS - Romain Barthel greets me at the gates of the Lycee Diane Benvenuti, a private secondary school in the leafy 16th arrondissement of Paris. It's the day after Yom Kippur and the school, a Jewish one, is closed. Mr. Barthel is the Benvenuti school's principal; a diminutive, soft-spoken, 32-year-old observant Jew, who wears a skullcap but no sidelocks, and fashionable sneakers with narrow trousers. The gates by which we meet are not the kind you open with a latch, but rather ones you pass through with the permission of a security guard provided by Service de la protection de la communaute Juif -- a security firm created and funded by France's Jewish community -- who is installed in a booth in the school's vestibule. These gates close off both the sidewalk and the street in front of the school to cars and pedestrians -- they are a barricade.

Mr. Barthel walks me through the school, which was built three years ago to what he calls "new specifications for a new reality."

"All of our windows are made with glass both bomb- and bullet-proof; there are security cameras in all the common rooms," he says. "You will also notice there is no sign outside of the school that could single it out as a Jewish place."
Meryl Yourish, a teacher herself, is appalled at the thought of a bullet-proof and bomb-proof school... or, rather, the thought of a school that needs such protection. I concur completely.

It's noteworthy also that, in France, which has redefined the notion of "welfare state", this protection does not come from the authorities, but from the Jewish community itself... because French Jews have learned not to trust the government with their protection.

more from the article:
Mr. Barthel explains the buddy system instituted at the Benvenuti school for children both arriving and leaving the premises. The students must travel in a pack and are not allowed to wear visible skullcaps or Stars of David anywhere but inside the school. They are also discouraged from dressing in a manner that Mr. Barthel calls "Shalala," meaning that they asked to refrain from dressing in a style which in North American parlance might be termed "Jappy."

"The Diesel jeans, the tight bomber jackets, these things can also make them look like Jews," he says. "They must look more quiet now, for safety."

Mr. Barthel is the father of two young children. Last year, his children's school bus, belonging to a Jewish school in Epinay-sur-seine, a northern suburb of Paris, was set on fire. "The bus was empty when it was attacked, but still, nobody did anything about it, not the police, not the government."
All of a sudden, the torching of French cars doesn't seem so funny anymore, does it?
He says the Jews of France have increasingly felt as if they have had to take safety into their own hands. "For us now, this means one of two things: bunker in with bomb-proof glass, or leave."

Mr. Barthel and his family have chosen the latter, becoming part of what could easily qualify as an exodus of Jews. In the past four years, French-Jewish immigration to Israel has more than doubled. The United States has received an influx of thousands as well, notably to the Miami area, where, as in Israel, entirely French-Jewish communities have cropped up, bringing with them everything from kosher patisseries to synagogues both French in language and culture.
This is indeed appalling... and I fear very much that we are hearing the death-knell of France as we know it. France is letting her Jewish population be scared away, and is doing next to nothing about it; at the same time, France's Muslim populations are growing increasingly scary, while the French government seeks ever-more-creative ways of appeasing the violent.

As I've said before, Jews are the canaries in the coal mine. What happens to French Jews will soon happen to the French en masse. If they're clever, they'll stop it now.

But they won't, will they? And French antisemitism will rise, just as it did at the turn of the twentieth century... with results that do not bear dwelling upon.

Emile Zola, where are you now? We need you.


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours? Blogs that link here Weblog Commenting and Trackback by