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Does France Get a Bum Rap on Anti-Semitism?:

Which country has the highest percentage of the population that has a favorable attitude toward Jews? According to this study, it's France! That's especially remarkable, because (a) most French Jews are relative newcomers, having emigrated from Algeria and Morrocco in the mid-1950s; and (b) France has a large immigrant Muslim population, and, anecdotally, a large percentage of these Muslims seem hostile to Jews.

The interesting question is, if the French are so tolerant of Jews, why has the French government been so unable to make French Jews feel welcome and secure in the face of hostility largely emanating from the immigrant population? Thousands of French Jews have moved to Israel, and many more have purchased an "insurance" home there.

DangerMouse:
Maybe it's possible they're #1 in tolerance, and #1 in anti-semitism? If the population is 50-50 on this, whereas other countries are indifferent to a large degree, it's not too hard to see.
9.17.2008 9:40pm
Tomm:

France also had the highest percentage with favorable opinions of Jews, 79 percent. The United States had 77 percent, Britain and Australia 73 percent.
9.17.2008 9:50pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Maybe being tolerant of Jews doesn't translate to being hard on immigrant anti-Semitic crimes.
9.17.2008 9:59pm
Sam H (mail):
During WWII, the Frence Vichy government shipped 60-80,000 Jews to the death camps, only a very small number returned.

In 2004, Ariel Sharon urged French Jews to emigrate immediately to Israel to escape what he called ''the wildest anti-Semitism.''

It appears that there is long standing anti-semitism in France.
9.17.2008 10:25pm
jccamp (mail):
To what degree do you suppose intentional untruthful answers predominate? In countries with some residue of Holocaust guilt, like France, is it likely that people surveyed simply gave the PC answer, regardless of true feelings?
9.17.2008 10:50pm
WF (mail):
France gets a bum rap on a lot of things. Among stupid people.
9.17.2008 11:16pm
Bored Lawyer:

Maybe being tolerant of Jews doesn't translate to being hard on immigrant anti-Semitic crimes


Richard Aubrey, you win the $64,000 prize.

Although there may be anti-semitic sentiment that exists in the general French population, most of the anti-semitism that is expressed in violent acts is perpetrated by immigrant Muslims. The French have a great difficulty in getting a handle on this, and they consequently go to great lengths to deny the anti-Semitic nature of this violence.

It is hard to feel "secure" when one is in real danger of being physically beaten, and when the authorities seem powerless to stop or punish other acts of physical assault.
9.17.2008 11:18pm
GU (mail):
Maybe the French give politically correct, but not truthful, answers to surveys?
9.17.2008 11:48pm
Seamus (mail):
The interesting question is, if the French are so tolerant of Jews, why has the French government been so unable to make French Jews feel welcome and secure in the face of hostility largely emanating from the immigrant population?

IIRC, France was electing Jews (Blum, Mendes-France) as prime minister long before this country even nominated one (Goldwater, by paternal ancestry) for president, much less elected one. DangerMouse may have gotten it right: lots of philosemites living side by side with antisemites.

During WWII, the Frence Vichy government shipped 60-80,000 Jews to the death camps, only a very small number returned.

Most of those Jews (at least according to Wikipedia) weren't French, suggesting that Vichy at least made some effort to shield their home-grown Jews from being deported.
9.18.2008 12:01am
Bama 1L:
Yes, the Vichy authorities executed a conscious policy of rounding up and turning over to the Nazis "foreign" Jews (North Africans, Central and Eastern Europeans, etc.) rather than domestic Jews.

Has anyone got an actual policy suggestion as to what the French authorities should do about the current situation? Generally bolstering law and order in the cités where the violence occurs would be a start, but then that's what the French claim to want to do anyway.
9.18.2008 12:22am
JB:

During WWII, the Frence Vichy government shipped 60-80,000 Jews to the death camps, only a very small number returned.

Most of those Jews (at least according to Wikipedia) weren't French, suggesting that Vichy at least made some effort to shield their home-grown Jews from being deported.


That really shouldn't shield the French from Jewish anger. "That person doesn't hate your entire family, they walked right past you to gleefully beat up your cousin" isn't terribly reassuring.

That said, historical memory of the Holocaust, combined with the general French attitude toward WWII ("We were victims, and everyone was in the Resistance"), could easily lead to Jews being very sensitive to even the slightest antisemitism or indifference to same among the French population.
9.18.2008 3:04am
Arkady:
Sartre's Antisemite and Jew (Réflexions sur la Question Juive) might be worth re-reading.
9.18.2008 8:43am
erp:
Anyone remember the Butcher of Lyon, Klaus Barbe, handing over Jewish orphans to the Nazis?
9.18.2008 9:32am
DanielH:
Not only are the French overwhelmingly pro-Semitic, but so are French Muslims -- according to a slightly older Pew study, 71% of French Muslims reported having favorable ratings of Jews, the largest proportion of any country's Muslim population. Maybe it's time to reassess the impression that "a large percentage of [France's immigrant] Muslims" are "hostile to Jews."
9.18.2008 10:56am
Litigator-London:
Muslims and Jews lived peaceably together in Algeria and Morocco. The mass Jewish emigration from Algeria was a consequence of the French colonial law which had equated Sephardi Jews in Algeria with the "colons" and given theim full French citizenship and voting rights. They fled upon Algerian independence. Quite a number had never ever been to out of Algeria before. I remember the family who used to live next door to my uncle's in Constantine. My uncle's family used to go in and light their fires on the Sabbath and the like. When I asked where they had gone my uncle said: "we woke up one day and they were gone.
9.18.2008 11:51am
Litigator-London:
About 20 years ago, I drove across the border from Tunisia into Algeria. The car in front was registered in France driven by a women with 3 children. After she had cleared customs and driven off, the Customs noticed she had left her bag behind and asked me to catch up with here - which I did at the first small town after the border. I found her in the main square standing by the car, tears streaming down her face. I parked and ran over and told her not to worry, her bag was safe and sound at the Customs. She didn't even know she had left it behind. It turned out that she was born in the house she was standing in front of and had not seen it for 20 years. At that point an old farmer came up and asked the lady if she remembered him because she used to buy eggs from him on market days.
9.18.2008 11:59am
Litigator-London:
The point I am trying to make is that Jews and Muslims get along very well thank you in both England and France. OK my family got to the UK well before US independence so we are pretty well assimilated - as are the Sephardi Jewish families who came here about the same time. The French are particularly careful now because of their role in deportations under Vichy. The anti-semitism and islamophobia we occasionally experience comes largely from those who also disapprove of black immigration (either the quite elderly or the unemployable YOBS. Muslim/Jewish bad feeling is really quite rare.
9.18.2008 12:33pm
PLR:
Too bad they didn't also ask the French whether they had a favorable or unfavorable view of Israel. I rather doubt that 79% of French respondents would say they have a favorable view.
9.18.2008 1:27pm
Brian K (mail):
nd (b) France has a large immigrant Muslim population, and, anecdotally, a large percentage of these Muslims seem hostile to Jews

the discrepancy may likely exist because your anecdotes are wrong, misleading or otherwise incomplete. there's a reason anecdotes aren't accepting as hard date by anyone who doesn't already agree with them.
9.18.2008 2:08pm
Brian K (mail):
*data not date
9.18.2008 2:11pm
Substance P (mail):
I like how the "antisemitic and xenophobic" population of France elected a President of Jewish, Greek, and Hungarian descent. Their last Prime Minister was born in Africa and raised in Latin America.

Isn't that cute?
9.18.2008 2:34pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Thousands of French Jews have moved to Israel, and many more have purchased an "insurance" home there.

Thousands of American Jews have moved to Israel, too. It's called aliyah or something like that. And if Israel were as close to the US as it is to France, I bet a lot of American Jews would own second homes there, too. If this is all the evidence against French Jews' feeling safe in France, then American Jews feel similarly unsafe in the US.
9.18.2008 6:18pm
LM (mail):
TT,

That particular evidence notwithstanding, I know assimilated French Jews who feel physically threatened. I don't know any assimilated American Jews who have felt threatened since Freddy's Fashion Mart (mid-90's).
9.18.2008 10:57pm
Litigator-London:
The late Aba Eban, the Israeli scholar, historian and former Israeli Foreign Minister, wrote in his book "My People" that there were only two episodes during their history when the Jewish diaspora was treated justly, firstly in Muslim Andalusia and secondly, currently, in the United States of America. But when President Truman sought to obtain support for the opening of immigrant quotas to the USA for the displaced Jewish Holocaust survivors - but ran into rabid opposition from Republican WASPS. That played its part in the decision to support the creation of the Jewish state. Given the discrimination the Jews have encountered over the last millennium in Europe, is it surprising they think in terms of a "residence of last resort" ?
9.19.2008 3:22am
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
A "systematic" Jewish holocaust and "systematic" persecutions of assimilated Jews are impossible because there are no objective and reliable ways of identifying Jews and non-Jews. It is of course easy to target synagogues, Hebrew schools, and certain types of Jewish businesses.

Moslems face a far greater problem of persecution in Western countries than Jews face.

France is of course home to one of the most infamous anti-Semitic incidents in history -- the Alfred Dreyfus Affair.

France is well known for its neutrality and tolerance -- it has been a popular haven for political exiles.
9.20.2008 12:15am
Litigator-London:
Tony Tutins: However a significant proportion of the US Jews who move to Israel to settle are politically on the extreme right and part of the settler movements. Whenever the western press reports on conflicts between Settlers and Palestinians - the settler movement spokespeople speak with thick Bronx accents. I regret to say that,like bigots of every faith, they are a large part of the problem. They cannot claim a right to move onto Palestinian land any more than I can claim a right to settle in Virginia because it was once a British colony.
9.20.2008 12:41am
LM (mail):
Litigator-London,

1. The accent you're hearing is Brooklyn, not Bronx. And inhabitants of the settlements are a more diverse group than are represented by "the Settler Movement."

2. That said, the Settler Movement is indeed the ideological heir to Meir Kahane's JDL and Koch movements. Believe it or not, I think Kahane was more respectful of Arab rights than many of these people are. The Settler Movement should be an embarrassment to all Jews if their bigotry and their agenda weren't so discredited among Israelis at large.

3. Though settlers commit all sorts of abuses against Palestinians and perform civil disobedience against being expelled from unauthorized settlements, they nonetheless ultimately acknowledge and submit to the rule of Israeli law.

4. The Palestinians' militant extreme goes by many names, but we can call them all "Hamas." And far from being the fringe group the Israeli settler movement is, Hamas is the democratically elected head of the Palestinian Authority. Nonetheless, Hamas fighters only submit to the legal authority of Palestinian police to the extent that by "submit" we mean "shoot at."

5. Despite everything above, the world generally and the Muslim world and Europe, in particular, seems to identify and relate to Israel by its fringe settler movement, and to Palestine despite its democratically elected militant Hamas leadership.

As a liberal, naturally inclined to sympathize with the downtrodden, part of me wants to be more on the Palestinians' side. But there's something so wrong with that half-blind, half-deaf, half-mute way most of the world relates to this and only this conflict, I have to respect the little voice I hear telling me, "not so fast." So at least until things are less rotten in Denmark... and in Belgium, and France, and Britain... the criticism I level at the settler movement will be somewhat muted.
9.20.2008 2:46am