Nicolas Sarkozy, Gerard Depardieu, Charles Aznavour and Bernard-Henri Lévy are among more than 300 prominent French personalities who have signed a petition condemning the “new antisemitism” which has led to the killing of French Jews and a climate of fear among the community.
In a statement published in Le Figaro newspaper, signatories highlight the “quiet ethnic purging” driven by rising Islamist radicalism, especially in working class neighbourhoods.
“In our recent history, 11 Jews have been murdered – and some tortured – because they were Jews, by radical Islamists.” This refers to the assassination of Ilan Halimi in 2006, the killing of Jewish schoolchildren and their teachers in Toulouse in 2012, the attack on Hyper Cacher in 2015, Sarah Halimi’s death in Paris in 2017, and, most recently, the murder of Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris.
Ms Knoll, 85, was stabbed 11 times by the perpetrators before setting her body on fire. Her murder prompted shock and outrage and 30,000 people joined a march in her memory.
“French Jews are 25 times more likely to be attacked by Muslims than their fellow Frenchmen,” the petition points out. “Ten per cent of the Jewish citizens of Ile de France [Metropolitan Paris] – that is, about 50,000 people – were recently forced to move because they were no longer safe in some towns and because their children could not frequent the public school of the Republic any longer.”
Signatories demand "that the fight against this democratic bankruptcy of antisemitism become a national cause before it is too late. Before France is no longer France.”
With a community of more than half a million, French Jewry is the largest in Europe. But concern over antisemitism has prompted increased aliyah.
The petition has been signed by politicians of the left and right and Jewish, Muslim and Catholic leaders.