‘We Won’t Be Collateral Victims’

The Fellowship  |  September 7, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron (C) and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy (C/L) listen to the speech of the President of the Central Jewish Consistory of Paris Joel Mergui (FRONT) during a ceremony to mark the Jewish New Year - Rosh Hashana - at The Great Synagogue in Paris on September 4, 2018. (Photo by YOAN VALAT / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read YOAN VALAT/AFP/Getty Images)

As we have seen over the past few years, anti-Semitism is on the rise across the globe, but especially in Europe, with France particularly facing hatred against its Jewish communities. Algemeiner’s Ben Cohen reports that French Jewish leaders spoke about this rising problem at a special service before Rosh Hashanah attended by French President Emmanuel Macron:

Among those present alongside Macron were the chief rabbi of France, Haim Korsia, the president of the Consistoire Central — a key religious organization — Joel Mergui, and the chief rabbi of Paris, Michel Gugenheim. Also present were leading actors Francis Huster and Michel Boujenah, Father Louis-Marie Coudray, who is in charge of relations with the Jewish community for the Conference of Bishops of France, and the bishop of Nanterre, Matthieu Rougé. French Senate President Gerard Larcher and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo attended as well, as did former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was warmly applauded by the crowd.

Despite the greetings for a “sweet new year” and the several jars of honey presented to Macron as a gift, the speeches at the event highlighted the continuing threat posed by antisemitism, particularly among the Muslim population, toward French Jews. Rabbi Korsia even compared Macron to the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, saying, “We entrust to him our hopes and our troubles without him answering us: And yet we know that someone hears us…”

In a speech described by some French media outlets as “blunt,” Joel Mergui declared that French Jews refused to become the “collateral victims” of broader French apathy in the fight against Islamism, which he described as “gnawing away at the 21st century.”

Referring to the phenomenon of French Jews moving into neighborhoods with larger Jewish populations in order to escape antisemitic violence and hostility, Mergui said the process was even more disturbing for the younger generation of Jews who “do not understand why they have to leave the neighborhoods of their childhood…”

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