Next month my family and I were scheduled to spend two weeks in Paris, celebrating my 50th birthday. We had tickets booked and an apartment rented in the Marais, the historic Jewish Quarter in Paris. Sadly, we have cancelled the trip. Watch this new, shocking and well made report by CNN (see link below) and you'll understand why. This is painful, as much of my roots are there. French is my first language, it's the only language I ever spoke at home, and the culture of Paris was a big part of my upbringing and identity. That's why I wanted to be there to celebrate this milestone year. But alas, the culture of Paris has been hijacked. Berets have been replaced by burqas, and shouts of "Allahu Akbar" have drowned out the romantic sounds of Charles Aznavour and Enrico Macias. The intellectual literary cafes have become meeting grounds for extremists, and the pastoral images by Monet depicting life have been replaced by dark shades of a culture that celebrates death and violence.
But this goes beyond Paris. A few years ago, Israeli Professor of Holocaust Studies Yehuda Bauer wrote that "Anti-Zionism is now being used to cloak a terrifying nexus between genocidal Arab and Islamic hatred of the Jews and deep-seated European prejudices." That cloak is no longer there. It's pure anti-Semitism.
So where will we celebrate my 50th? Perhaps Israel, maybe Laguna Beach...but definitely not Europe. As we say in French: "non merci" -- no thanks. All the art, fine wine, camembert, baguettes and cafe au lait on the Champs Elysees are not worth being called a "sale juif" by mobs of violent anti-Semites.