AJC is urging France’s political leadership to re-examine the efficacy of current strategies to combat rising anti-Semitism in France. The call comes following the release of a government report showing a 74% spike in anti-Semitic incidents during 2018, compared to the previous year.

“For more than 18 years, French governments have vowed to take concerted actions to combat anti-Semitism, recognizing that this scourge ultimately threatens all of French society and its core values,” said AJC Paris Director Anne-Sophie Sebban-Bécache.

AJC has worked closely with successive governments, praising the launch four years ago of a comprehensive plan to fight anti-Semitism and racism that included creation of the senior position of Inter-ministerial Delegate to Fight against Racism and anti-Semitism.

“Sadly, despite the well-intentioned efforts by the French government, actions taken in the fight against anti-Semitism have not been sufficient to stem this hateful phenomenon,” said Sebban-Bécache. “The apparent normalization of anti-Semitism in France, reflected in all too regular statements of condemnation, must be declared totally unacceptable and inadequate to the magnitude of the problem.”

In the days leading up to Interior Minister Christophe Castaner’s announcement of the 2018 statistics, several grotesque incidents of vandalism took place. These included the memorial honouring Ilan Halimi in Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois, which was desecrated. Halimi was brutally murdered in 2006, after he was kidnapped, held captive and tortured for several weeks.

Vile anti-Semitic graffiti was found in the streets of Paris. The word "Juden" ("Jews", in German, a vestige of the Nazi vocabulary) was scrawled on a store, swastikas were drawn on the portrait of Simone Veil, an Auschwitz survivor, and "truie juive" (Jewish pig) and "Macron Jews' Bitch" were placed on the walls of the capital.

Further, a new survey has confirmed the prevalence of anti-Semitism within the ranks of the Yellow Vest movement. The survey, conducted by IFOP, a leading French polling firm, for La Fondation Jean-Jaurès and Conspiracy Watch, on the state of belief in conspiracy theories in France, found that 50% of Yellow Vest activists do not believe in the official version of the fatal jihadist attack on the Christmas market in Strasbourg in December, and subscribe to the theory of a world Zionist conspiracy.

“Anti-Semitism in the Yellow Vest movement is not anecdotal,” said Sebban-Bécache. Since the weekly demonstrations began three months ago, anti-Semitic banners and graffiti have appeared without any condemnation by the movement.

“Our political leaders, together with civil society, must redouble their efforts to develop and implement meaningful remedies to tackle the sources of anti-Semitism in France," said Sebban-Bécache. “Otherwise, the future looks increasingly bleak.”

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