When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

21 November 2005

French Jews, bailing out

Many French Jews have had enough of anti-Semitism in their home country, and they're voting with their feet. Some are going to Israel, of course, and some to the United States (there's a huge established French Jewish community in Miami, already - who knew?) but an increasing number of them are heading straight for Montréal.

Canada's National Post is running a three-part series on the growing wave of French Jewish emigration. Part one ran on Monday, and part two ran today. (Part three is anticipated tomorrow.)

Here, for example, is an assessment of the current situation on the ground in Paris, from the soft-spoken principal of a Jewish school:

Mr. Barthel explains the buddy system instituted at the Benvenuti school for children both arriving and leaving the premises. The students must travel in a pack and are not allowed to wear visible skullcaps or Stars of David anywhere but inside the school. They are also discouraged from dressing in a manner that Mr. Barthel calls "Shalala," meaning that they asked to refrain from dressing in a style which in North American parlance might be termed "Jappy."

"The Diesel jeans, the tight bomber jackets, these things can also make them look like Jews," he says. "They must look more quiet now, for safety."

Not surprisingly, many are choosing to leave.
Paris was burning for two weeks this month. But Jewish Paris has been burning for five years -- a steady, fiery precursor that went largely ignored by the French authorities. The rise of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000 sparked a wave of mainly Muslim-led, anti-Jewish violence in France that has since brought forth thousands of hateful acts aimed at French Jews and their places of business, study, recreation, prayer and burial.
I think these guys have sussed out the situation accurately:
"[O]ur future here is hard to envision, even if [we are] just looking at demographics." There are 500,000 to 600,000 Jews living in France, and the population is dwindling. "There are six million Muslims," he says, "and their population is growing." Mr. Malka says even though most Muslims in France are moderate, "for Jews this is still not a comfortable situation, even from the standpoint of politics. For politicians, it's plain where the votes are."

"Sometimes it's best," says Mr. Barthel, "to just look clearly and say, 'OK, it's been nice in the past, but now it's time to move on.'

"In the span of history," he adds, "this is a not an altogether unfamiliar situation for us."

National Post: Barricaded in Paris (Part One) - Nov 19, 2005

National Post: Taking leave of 'the fear' (Part Two) - Nov 21, 2005

Hat tip: Metafilter

UPDATE, November 22: Part three of the series is now up:

National Post: Finding Peace In Canada (Part Three) - Nov 22, 2005

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