A tiny french hamlet situated south of Paris has sparked outrage as its name, “La Mort aux Juifs” means “Death to Jews” in English.
The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. reported today that The Simon Wiesenthal Center, an organization which works against worldwide anti-Semitism, wrote to the French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve suggesting:
“The name is, apparently, of long date – possibly as far as the 11th century Croisade-related pogroms that ended with the expulsion of France’s 110,000 Jews by King Philippe Le Bel in 1306.”
The letter noted that the Center feels the recent rise in attacks on French Jews makes a name change necessary:
“The current surge in public and violent expressions of anti-Semitism makes us uneasy regarding the motives of those seeking to reside at such an address, ‘urging’, the earliest removal of this genocidal name and its replacement with an identity rather more welcoming to all. Indeed, it will be most interesting to note whether property values in the village rise or fall as a result.”
Apparently, the “Lieu-Dit” or locality of the hamlet is registered under the regional authority of Courtemaux in the Loiret, a department in central France some 58 miles south of Paris.
The author of the letter to Cazeneuve said he found it surprising:
“That the name remained under Napoleon’s emancipation of French Jewry and that it was unnoticed during seventy years since the liberation of France from the Nazis and Vichy, is most shocking.”
Shimon Samuels, who composed the letter of complaint, said he was “shocked to discover the existence of a village in France officially called ‘Death to Jews’. It is extremely shocking that this name has slipped under the radar in the 70 years that have passed since France was liberated from Nazism and the (pro-Nazi) Vichy regime.”
Nevertheless, the deputy mayor of the village of Courtemaux, which has jurisdiction over the hamlet, dismissed the concerns: “It’s ridiculous. This name has always existed. No one has anything against the Jews, of course. It doesn’t surprise me that this is coming up again,” Marie-Elizabeth Secretand told AFP.
Secretand, in an apparent moment of insanity, went even further suggesting that the name should be preserved and respected: “Why change a name that goes back to the Middle Ages or even further? We should respect these old names.”
We will let you draw your own conclusions about the current attitude in France toward its half a million Jewish citizens.