Increased immigration of Muslims from the Islam influenced anti-Semitic Middle East, is supercharging the European variant, to an ever worrisome larger degree.
NOTE: This is a new article by Jamie Berk and Dr.Manfred Gerstenfeld on French antisemitism, first published in Israel National News.
FRANCE, A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT FOR JEWS
Manfred Gerstenfeld and Jamie Berk
A recently published poll sheds much light on France’s increasingly hostile environment for its Jewish citizens, the world’s third-largest Jewish community. The survey’s major findings are that anti-Semitic opinions and prejudices concerning Jews are wide-spread in French society and that the majority of Jews considers living in France difficult. The poll was carried out by the IPSOS polling company on behalf of the Foundation for French Judaism.1 The questions deal with the relationship between French society and minorities. This survey, together with earlier polls, builds a grim picture of increasing anti-Semitism and Jewish insecurity in one of Europe’s major countries.
The recent poll includes eight initial questions most of which are considered classic ones in investigating bias concerning Jews. A general population of French interviewees were polled, as well as French Muslims. An affirmative answer to any of these questions indicates prejudice toward the Jews and/or anti-Semitism.
The majority of the general public respondents answer positively to two classic questions used to measure anti-Semitism. One is: Do Jews have much power? to this 56% of respondents agreed. And 53% of the respondents answered that they believed Jews were more attached to Israel than France. This is a mutation of an ancient anti-Semitic canard of lack of loyalty of Jews to the society they live in.2
A bizarre question asked was whether respondents believed that Jews were wealthier, in global terms, than the average Frenchman. Fifty-six percent answered in the affirmative.3 Average Jewish wealth, and the same of people in general, is largely a function of the wealth of the country in which they live, measurable in part by means of that country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The French GDP per capita is about 15% higher than that of Israel, home to almost half of the world’s Jews. The GDP of the United States, home to the second-largest Jewish community worldwide, is in turn about 20% higher than that of France.4
Forty-one percent of respondents agree that Jews are too prominent in media-related occupations – indicating another typical prejudice.5 Even if one would check the facts and find that the number of Jews in media is disproportionately high, their impact is highly fragmented as Jews differ widely in their political views. Twenty-four percent of the respondents agree, in answer to another odd question, that Jews are not really like others.6 One must wonder what that means. All people are individuals and Frenchmen differ among themselves.
Thirteen percent of the respondents think that there were somewhat too many Jews in France.7 Yet another prejudice, though not necessarily negative, was that Jews were smarter than the average French, to which 25% agreed.8 Another question, also somewhat bizarre, asked respondents if they believed that Jews are welded or united together. Ninety-one percent of general respondents agree.9 Thirty-six percent of the respondents answer in the affirmative on five to eight of these initial questions, each one of which embodies prejudice against Jews. Twenty-eight percent give positive answers to three to four of the questions.10
The responses of French Muslims to the same questions indicate prejudice against the Jews which substantially exceeds that of the general respondent group on many issues. Fifty-one percent of Muslims agree with five to eight of the statements as opposed to 36% of French people in general.11 Seventy-four percent of Muslims consider it true that Jews have much power, as opposed to 56% of the general respondents. Sixty-seven percent of Muslims think that the Jews are overrepresented in the media, as opposed to 41% of the general population. Sixty-six percent believe that globally, Jews are more wealthy than the average French citizen, in contrast to 56% of the general population. Sixty-two percent think that Jews are more attached to Israel than France, something believed by 53% of the French population in general.12
The main problem for Jews concerning elements of the Muslim population relates however to their involvement in anti-Semitic crime and hatred in France, rather than the way they see Jews in general. Sammy Ghozlan, president of the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism in France reported that the vast majority of physical attacks in France are committed by Muslims.13 Moshe Sebbag, the rabbi of the Grand Synagogue in Paris is quoted saying “the majority of people who are going to call you ‘dirty Jew’ in the street are Muslims, not French, at least 99 percent of the time.”14
One of the hardcore ideas promoted by anti-Semites is that the Jews are responsible for anti-Semitism. This can be traced back to heinous false Christian accusations against the Jews which began almost two millennia ago and continue till today. It is a typical case of extreme stereotyping where a Jew is not seen as an individual but as a member of a collective, and where the victim is accused instead of the anti-Semitic perpetrator. Seventeen percent of the French in general answer that the Jews are significantly responsible for anti-Semitism. The percentage among Muslims is much higher, 31%. Forty-two percent of both general and Muslim respondents answer that Jewish responsibility for anti-Semitism is minimal.15 In France thus the majority of the population still sticks to this ancient false credo.
A 2014 survey released by the polling agency Fondapol together with CRIF — the umbrella body of French Jewish organizations — found additional disturbing results. Thirty-seven percent of general respondents16 and 66% of French Muslims believed that Zionism is an ideology that serves Israel to justify its policy of occupation and colonization of the Palestinian territories.17 Furthermore 25% of general respondents believed that Zionism “is an international organization that aims to influence society for the benefit of the Jews.”18 Fifty-seven percent of Muslim respondents agreed with this statement.19
The Foundation for French Judaism poll also interviews French Jewish respondents. One question concerns how Jews perceive the development of anti-Semitism in France.20 Ninety one percent of Jewish respondents think that anti-Semitism has greatly increased among the Muslim population. Seventy-seven percent think it has increased among the French population at large and 48% believe it has increased among Catholic populations.21
Seventy-one percent of Jews have confronted or have experienced anti-Semitic remarks and insults among family or friends. Thirty-one percent have been confronted with anti-Semitic physical attacks among family and friends, of which 14% have experienced this more than once.22
These findings are not a surprise. The stage was already set in the 2013 European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency poll among eight EU member nations.23 The situation had already deteriorated sufficiently by 2013 to show that 52% of French Jewish respondents found anti-Semitism to be “a very big problem today,” the highest figure.24 The French Jewish respondents also had the greatest fear of “becoming a victim of verbal insults or harassment or physical attack because he/she is Jewish, in the next 12 months,” with 70% fearing verbal harassment and 60% fearing physical attack. Similarly, 76% of Jewish respondents in France feared that a person close to them or a family member would become the victim of verbal insult or harassment, and 71% feared a physical attack on someone close to them.25 French Jews also had the greatest number of respondents who felt “a great deal” that the Israeli-Arab conflict impacts their personal safety with 73% of respondents believing that events in the Middle East triggered anti-Semitic attacks in their home country.26
The ongoing widespread sense of insecurity felt by French Jewry was highlighted in the answer to another question in the Foundation for French Judaism poll. Sixty-one percent of French Jews believe that it is more secure to live in Israel, versus 37% who are of the opinion that France is more secure.27
Yet 73% of Jews surveyed in 2015 say “I am French, my life is in France.” And 44 percent say “my family lives in France.”28 Twenty-six percent of French Jews seriously study the option of leaving for Israel or elsewhere.29 When the latter were asked why Jews would leave the country, 67% give as their main reasons the attacks and murders of which a certain number of Jews have been victims, while 56% were motivated to leave by the progression of radical Islamism among a portion of French Muslim population.30 Twenty-two percent believe they would be better able to practice their religion abroad than in France.31
One major conclusion of the recent poll thus seems to be that while most Jews find the atmosphere in France increasingly difficult and unpleasant, only a quarter consider emigration to Israel or elsewhere.32 This percentage may increase when the situation deteriorates further. Yet there are many indications that those who have already left France and those who may leave are mainly among the more active members of the Jewish community. The impact of their departure on Jewish community life has already been felt, and will therefore be ultimately far greater than the percentages indicate.
The above findings are a damning indictment for the French authorities. They should first sort out the ugly reality of French society for Jews before they come up with new negative ‘solutions’ for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
1 Brice Teinturier and Etienne Mercier, “Perceptions et attentes de la population juive,” Fondation de Judaïsme Français, IPSOS Public Affairs, 2015.
2 Ibid 28.
3 Ibid .
4 “GDP per capita (current US$),” The World Bank, 2016.
5 Brice Teinturier and Etienne Mercier, “Perceptions et attentes de la population juive,” Fondation de Judaïsme Français, IPSOS Public Affairs, 2015. 33
6 Ibid 28.
8 Ibid .
9 Ibid .
10 Ibid 29.
11 Ibid 34.
12 Ibid 33.
13 “Report: Gang of youths taser French Jew at Paris monument,” JTA, 11 June 2014.
14 Jess McHugh, “Anti-Semitism In France 2016: Amid Jewish Exodus To Israel, Rabbis And Scholars Fight To Preserve Traditions,”International Business Times, 10 February 2016.
15 Brice Teinturier and Etienne Mercier, “Perceptions et attentes de la population juive,” Fondation de Judaïsme Français, IPSOS Public Affairs, 2015. [French] 28-34.
16 Dominique Reynié, “L’antisémitisme dans l’opinion publique Française nouveaux éclairages,” Fondapol, CRIF, November 2014. 11
17 Ibid 24
18 Ibid 11
19 Ibid 24
20 Brice Teinturier and Etienne Mercier, “Perceptions et attentes de la population juive,” Fondation de Judaïsme Français, IPSOS Public Affairs, 2015, 37.
21 Ibid 43.
22 Ibid 46.
23 “Discrimination and hate crime against Jews in EU Member States: experiences and perceptions of antisemitism,” European Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2013.
24 Ibid 16.
25 Ibid 33.
26 Ibid 38.
27 Brice Teinturier and Etienne Mercier, “Perceptions et attentes de la population juive,” Fondation de Judaïsme Français, IPSOS Public Affairs, 2015, 58.
28 Brice Teinturier and Etienne Mercier, “Perceptions et attentes de la population juive,” Fondation de Judaïsme Français, IPSOS Public Affairs, 2015. [French] 28-34. 61
29 Ibid 60.
30 Ibid 62.
31 Ibid 62.
32 Ibid 60.