June 24, 2008
Latest brutal attack on French youth reignites anger in Jewish community
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Yet CRIF, the umbrella organization of the Jewish community, and the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism thought the government's swift and firm condemnation of the attack was appropriate, due to the sensitivity of the case.
"I think their reaction was sufficient," said Marc Knobel, a CRIF representative and a researcher on anti-Semitism in Europe. "It was quick, and it shows that those in power take this very seriously. They showed their solidarity, and reminded everyone that hurting a Jew is the same as hurting France. There is nothing as powerful as saying that.
"If it was not a question of anti-Semitism, then Sarkozy would not have reacted immediately."
Knobel was among many community leaders who warned that though they believed Haddad was attacked because he was recognized as a Jew, the government was right to exercise great caution before publicly announcing any motives for the crime.
Every reported anti-Semitic act further frightens the Jewish population, which has become more insular since this decade's overall rise in anti-Jewish violence.
"We saw a rise in anti-Semitic violence since 2000, which discredited our country," Knobel said, adding that acting without precaution would be irresponsible and "dangerous."
Other Jews said that police authorities and newspapers such as the daily Le Monde tended toward a purely gang-related explanation for the attack because they were ashamed of their failure to ensure the safety of the country's Jewish population.
"They'll try to do everything to turn this into a common offense," said Rabbi Michel Bouskila, the 19th district Jewish Community Council president. "If we say it is anti-Semitic, it means they have failed, it says the government hasn't done anything."
Bouskila said he would be meeting with community leaders and the Minister of the Interior, Michel Alliot-Marie, on Wednesday evening.
Some of the adults gathered around a tree-shaded intersection in the rue Petit, beside a kosher cafe, said they were aware that many of the country's non-Jews accused them of "overreacting" to the threat of anti-Semitism.
"In the press they don't talk about so many of the daily anti-Semitic incidents that happen because they're not important enough, and because we're so used to it, we don't report most of them," said Patricia Tahar, 56, a mother of two. "It's only the big, violent attacks that make it into the press, so of course the French don't understand why we are scared.
"But if they knew what we lived through every day, the French would understand," she said. "I can't take any risk with my children."
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