First Published: 2009-01-12

Synagogues attacked across France

Unidentified attackers hurl petrol bombs at Jewish places of worship in Paris, eastern France.


Middle East Online

Anti-Semitism rising in France since the start of Israel's Gaza offensive

PARIS - Vandals hurled petrol bombs at Jewish places of worship in Paris and eastern France on Sunday night, the latest of a string of anti-Semitic attacks since the start of Israel's Gaza offensive.

In the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, the local synagogue was attacked with two petrol bombs as the rabbi was inside, sparking a fire in the next-door cafeteria, the local prefecture said.

The mayor of Saint-Denis condemned the "intolerable" attack, while the prefecture was due to announce stepped-up security measures for the area's synagogues during a meeting with Jewish community leaders later on Monday.

Police also found the shattered remains of three petrol-filled bottles outside a Jewish prayer room in Schiltigheim, a suburb of the eastern city of Strasbourg, alerted by a resident who spotted black smoke marks on the wall.

The local head of the CRIF French Jewish Council, Pierre Levy, condemned what he called a "hateful and cowardly act."

France's interior ministry and Jewish groups have warned of a rising mood of anti-Semitism, as protests heat up against Israel's three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip.

France is home to Europe's biggest Jewish and Muslim communities.

On Saturday, according to police figures, some 123,000 people marched in cities across France to denounce Israel's actions in Gaza.

Last Monday, unidentified attackers rammed a burning car into a gate outside a synagogue in southern France.

But many Jews wish to distance themselves from the much-criticised actions of Israel.

Gilad Atzmon, who was born in Israel and served in the Israeli military before leaving for London, explains the link between Israel's actions and the increase in anti-Jewish sentiments.

"If world Jewry continues to support Israel, as they momentarily do, it affirms to us all that Israeli war crimes are indeed committed in the name of the Jewish people and with their support. This would be enough to explain (rather than justify) the rapid increase in anti Jewish resentment," noted Atzmon.

But if Jews disassociate themselves from Israel's raids on Gaza, such action "would mean that Israel is committing all these crimes," Atzmon argues, "without the Jewish people's consent."


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