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L’antisémitisme en France

  • January 2020 : Anti-Semitism in France

During the year 2019, various anti-Semitic attacks and insults, and desecrations of Jewish cemeteries in Alsace, reminded us that anti-Semitism is far from having disappeared in France.
It appears, however, that overall prejudice is diminishing : a 2016 survey (Ipsos for the CNCDH) reveals that, although negative stereotypes persist, Jews are the best accepted minority in France : 85% of those interviewed believe that Jews are "French like any other" ; in 1946, only a third agreed with this idea. 86% of the interviewees believe that anti-Semitic statements should be condemned. Another poll (Ifop for the Union of Jewish Students in France and Sos Racism), which expresses similar results, also shows that only 2% of those interviewed reacted negatively when they learned that someone in their entourage was Jewish. Overall, religious tolerance has increased.
Although the progress made is to be welcomed, it must be noted that a proportion of the population remains intolerant. It is problematic that 14% of people would find it normal to express anti-Semitic remarks, or even that anyone could consider a member of a minority other than a Frenchman "as someone else".
The attacks of 2015 had drawn attention to attacks on Jews. These attacks do not perhaps always raise as much indignation as they deserve. The anti-Semitic acts, after having increased significantly since the 2000s, had decreased slightly in 2017 but increased again in 2019. Every year, a number of Jews prefer to leave France for Israel, although the figures provided are to be interpreted with caution.
The motives of the perpetrators are not always easy to pin down : they are probably a combination of varying degrees of political conviction, religious hatred, or search for fame.
It would be wrong to believe, however, that a general increase in racist and xenophobic acts and opinions is taking place in France in the general indifference. In 2014, an Interministerial Delegation for the Fight against Racism and Antisemitism (DILCRA) was created. The recent declaration by Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announcing the creation of a national office for combating hate to the Director General of the National Gendarmerie is also evidence of the government’s willingness to commit itself against intolerance.
In February 2019, the desecration of synagogues prompted numerous reactions, including marches against anti-Semitism, and church leaders issued a Joint Declaration of Religions and Spiritualities against Anti-Semitism. In Alsace, volunteers (often members of the network Veilleurs de mémoire created by the former pastor Philippe Ichter, who is now in charge of relations with religious denominations for the Alsatian departments) are mobilising to try to fight against these hainous acts.

• Eric Keslassy, De l’antisémitisme en France. Institut Diderot, 2015.
• Jérôme Fourquet, Sylvain Manternach et Michel Wieviorka, L’an prochain à Jérusalem ? Les Juifs de France face à l’antisémitisme. Paris : Fondation Jean Jaurès, 2016.
• Emmanuel Debono, Le racisme dans le prétoire. Antisémitisme, racisme et xénophobie devant la loi. Paris : P.U.F., 2019.
• Georges Benayoun, documentaire Chronique d’un antisémitisme aujourd’hui, 2020.

D 30 janvier 2020    AAnne-Laure Zwilling

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