A chilling new video clip recorded yesterday captures the reality of rising anti-Semitism in France. In it, a group of anti-government demonstrators march through Paris, singing the French national anthem and chanting “Juif, la France n’est pas a toi” (“Jew, France is not yours”)–all on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day:
Perhaps the most disturbing quality of the video is its vantage point–peering out a window onto the streets of Paris. The implication of the image is as disturbing as it is mundane. Today, in the capital of a European Union member state, one can look out the window and see demonstrators march proudly down the street while shouting anti-Semitic slogans. (A minority of viewers, in an attempt to dispute the chant’s prejudice, have claimed that the protesters are not denouncing “Juif,” but rather “CRIF,” which is the acronym for the Representative Council of the French Jewish Institutions, as though this ameliorates the problem.)
Sadly, such an event is far from an isolated incident. As we’ve reported previously, the European Union’s own Agency for Fundamental Rights found that 40 percent of French Jews are afraid to publicly identify as Jewish, while 56 percent have heard someone say “the Jews have too much power” in the last 12 months. And of course, the country is the home of the increasingly prevalent reverse-Nazi salute, the quenelle, which was popularized by the anti-Semitic French comedian Dieudonné and became a global media sensation after it was performed by French soccer player Nicolas Anelka. (Yesterday’s demonstrators were also photographed by the press making the gesture.)
Which is why it should come as no surprise that this past week, the Washington Post reported on the growing French expatriate population in Israel. “As immigration to Israel has dipped over the past 10 years, France is the only country seeing a growing number of its Jewish citizens move there,” the Post notes, adding “there were 3,270 French arrivals last year, an increase of 63 percent from 2012.” As anti-Jewish prejudice in France grows, its Jewish population continues to shrink.
Many French citizens and government officials, including President François Hollande, have spoken out forcefully against the rise of anti-Semitism in their country. The question remains, however: what can be done about it?
UPDATE: Another video just posted online offers a close-up look at the demonstrators, and captures them chanting “Jews, out of France,” and “the story of the gas chambers is bullshit,” while performing the reverse Nazi salute:
Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet. Subscribe to his newsletter, listen to his music, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.