January 24, 2018 — Paris
This piece originally appeared in the The International New York Times.
To the Editor:
Re: “Can a Jew Love France?” by Alexander Aciman (Opinion, Jan. 16). I chose years ago to live in France, raise my children here, and am concerned for its Jewish future. But I also chose to stay, to understand the complex, multiple roots of antisemitism, advocate for firm government action, and strengthen our resilient Jewish community, the largest in Europe.
Identifying the sources of antisemitism in France is critical. Comparing the current situation to the 1930s, even to the Dreyfus affair, is neither accurate nor helpful.
Yes, the National Front, which has antisemitic roots, is a far-right danger to Jews and other minorities. But it is not the only threat. Among some on the left, demonization of Israel has increasingly become a mask for antisemitism in France. Some Muslims, motivated by twisted political or religious beliefs, have threatened and killed Jews.
Asserting that “France has done nothing to curb its Jewish problem” is simply not true. While successive French governments took too long to confront antisemitism, and more needs to be done, few European governments have so seriously taken concrete steps combating antisemitism in the past five years.
“To name things wrongly is to add to the misfortune of the world,” said Albert Camus. Only by recognizing the sources of antisemitism, by describing the problem appropriately, and by tackling it, can France become the country that both Mr. Aciman and I love so deeply.
The writer is the director of the American Jewish Committee Europe.