The shooting outside a Jewish school today in Toulouse which resulted in the deaths of a rabbi and three children warrants another examination of anti-Semitism in France.
After all, it was French anti-Semitism during the Dreyfus Affair in the late 19th century which gave birth to the Zionist movement. During WWII, the Vichy regime sent nearly 76,000 Jews to Nazi death camps. In the 2000s, Muslim violence against Jews have prompted many to leave. Between 2000 and 2005, more than 11,000 Jews left France. Most made aliya to Israel while others left for the United States (especially to Florida) and Canada, particularly to Montreal.
France still has the largest Jewish population in Europe and third largest in the world behind only the United States and Israel. But in a country that has become more Muslim in character, the term “sale juif” (dirty Jew) is part of the French lexicon. Of course, these anti-Semitic sentiments are hardly confined to France. Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, stated in January that Sweden is “a center of anti-Semitism” in Europe. It has also been on the rise in neighboring Norway, Italy and, of course, Germany.
Given France and Europe’s recent history with regard to violence against Jews, nine chances out of ten the shooter is Muslim. With a presidential election being held in France next month, you can be sure the politicians both left and right will strike a sympathetic note for the Jews. But what happens after the election? I suspect it will go back to business as usual with French Jews being left with the choice to go to work, to school or to shul living in fear or leaving France altogether.