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Young Jewish activists in France sound the alarm about resurgent anti-semitism

SURVIVORS of Nazi atrocities joined young Jewish activists at the Holocaust memorial in Paris on Saturday to sound the alarm about resurgent anti-semitic hate speech, graffiti and abuse, including physical attacks on Jewish people, damage to Jewish sites and online threats. 

Hundreds of protesters joined an event organised by Jewish youth organisation Hachomer Hatzair, during which teenage activists drew parallels between what is happening now and the lead-up to World War II. 

Some held signs saying: “We will not let history repeat itself.”

France is home to the largest Jewish population outside Israel, and has largest Muslim population in western Europe.

The country’s Interior Ministry said last week that 1,762 anti-semitic, 131 Islamophobic, and 564 anti-Christian acts have been reported this year.

There has been a spike in anti-semitic incidents since the surprise Hamas uprising on October 7, but the level of attacks has increasingly worried the Jewish community in recent years.

Last year the ministry and the Jewish Community Protection Service recorded some 436 anti-semitic incidents, which they acknowledged “only reflects part of reality, since it is based solely on acts that were the subject of a complaint or a report to the police.”

The figures were 26 per cent lower than the previous year, when there were 589 reported anti-semitic crimes.

Serge Klarsfeld, a renowned Nazi-hunter and head of the Sons and Daughters of Jewish Deportees from France, noted that anger at the Israeli government’s actions often gets mixed with anti-Jewish sentiment. 

While he is concerned about the current atmosphere in France, he sought to put it in perspective.

He said: “Certainly there are anti-semitic acts [in France], but they are not at an urgent level.”

He expressed hope in “the wisdom of the two communities, who know how lucky they are to live in this exceptional country.”

France has citizens directly affected by the war: the initial Hamas uprising killed 40 French people, and French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu is shuttling around the Middle East this week to try to negotiate the release of eight French citizens held hostage by Hamas.

Two French children have also been killed in Israel’s subsequent offensive on Gaza, according to the Foreign Ministry, which is pushing for humanitarian help for Gaza’s civilians.

On Sunday, hundreds of French entertainment stars from different cultural and religious backgrounds were set to stage a silent march in central Paris to call for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. 

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