France Sees Increase in Number of anti-Semitic Acts in 2019

Continuous year-on-year rise tracks with general increase in racist and xenophobic incidents

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The Jewish Westhoffen cemetery near Strasbourg, eastern France, after 107 graves were found vandalised with swastikas and antisemitic inscriptions, December 4, 2019.
The Jewish Westhoffen cemetery near Strasbourg, eastern France, after 107 graves were found vandalised with swastikas and antisemitic inscriptions, December 4, 2019.Credit: AFP
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The number of anti-Semitic acts in France rose by 27 per cent in 2019, the Interior Ministry said on Sunday, on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

There were 687 incidents in 2019 compared with 541 in the previous year, the ministry said. Among the acts recorded were physical violence, theft, vandalism and verbal threats.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 58Credit: Haaretz

Incidents of racist and xenophobic acts also increased sharply: from 496 in 2018 to 1,142 in 2019.

A string of high-profile anti-Semitic crimes have drawn condemnation from French authorities and the country's Jewish community, thought to be the biggest in Europe.

Late last year, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced the formation of a new bureau in the gendarmerie police force to combat hate crime after 100 Jewish graves in the Alsace region were found painted with swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti.

There was also a rash of anti-Semitic graffiti in Paris in 2019, and prominent Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut was showered with insults, some of them anti-Semitic, when he crossed paths with protesters from the Yellow Vest movement last February.

Castaner said in a statement on Sunday the persistence of anti-Semitic hatred and, in general, the normalization of racist and xenophobic remarks and behaviours, require a decisive and unequivocal condemnation from all political leaders.

The world has been remembering the horrors of Auschwitz on the occasion of the upcoming anniversary. Dozens of world leaders paid their respects at a ceremony in Jerusalem last week.

Another major event will be held on Monday at the site of the former camp in Oswiecim, Poland, where the Nazi German occupiers established the concentration camp during World War II. Some 1 million Jews were murdered there by the Germans.

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