France’s Jews are in a state of high-alert after the Charlie Hebdo attacks and a year of rising anti-Semitism. According to the Tablet, around 7,000 Jews have already emigrated from France to Israel in 2014. For the French Prime Minister, this exodus poses an existential threat to the French Republic.
After Islamist terrorists invaded Charlie Hebdo headquarters and executed 12 people, they took hostages in in a kosher supermarket on the east side of Paris. As Time Magazine explained, police ordered all the businesses in a popular Jewish neighborhood in central Paris to close, despite being far from the supermarket. The Grand Synagogue of Paris also closed.
The supermarket standoff left the extremists dead, along with four of the hostages.
Before the attack even began, Chlomik Zenouda, of the National Bureau for Vigilance against anti-Semitism, ominously warned with the following.
“We are past red alert at this stage, it’s all hands on deck because, sadly, the question is not whether the French Jewish community will be targeted, but when.”
About half a million Jews live in France, the world’s third largest Jewish community after Israel and the U.S. In response to the threat to the Jewish community, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered assistance to the French government. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued a statement in support.
“The terror attack that has gone on for three days now is not just against the French nation, or against the Jews of France, but is aimed at the entire free world. This is another attempt by the forces of darkness emanating from extreme Islam to sow fear and terror against the West, and the entire international community must stand like a wall and with determination against this terrorism.”
Unfortunately, the supermarket hostage situation was only the latest in a long list of recent attacks on French Jews. The Tablet compiled a comprehensive list which includes beatings, ax-wielding chases, and anti-Semitic rallies. The hostile atmosphere is pushing many Jews to flee France for Israel, a development supported by Israeli leaders.
“To all the Jews of France, all the Jews of Europe, I would like to say that Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray, the state of Israel is your home. Unless the world comes to its senses, terror will continue to strike in other places.”
The statement was not a welcome development for France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who says that if the Jewish population flees, the French Republic will have been a failure.
Vall’s foreboding comes from the history of the Republic. According to Valls, emancipation of the Jews was a founding principal of the Republic. Valls, a descendant of Spanish immigrants, said to the Atlantic that France would not be France without the Jewish community.
“If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore. But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.”
After a year of anti-Semitic attacks, and now Islamist terrorism, France itself may be at risk.
[Image Credit: Valentina Calà/Wikimedia Commons]