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Antisemitic overtones in France’s  ‘yellow jacket’ protest

By Yossi Lempkowicz/(European Jewish Press via JNS) According to a comprehensive  survey among 16,300 Jews in 12 European countries, released last week by the European Commission and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), antisemitism has once again spiked in France. Results show that French Jews, the largest Jewish community in Europe, with a total around 500,000, have the highest level of concern over antisemitism (95%). While the survey was conducted in May and June, an additional antisemitic element has come up over the last weeks as a result of the so-called “yellow jacket” social protest movement against taxes imposed by the French government. The movement has led to extremely violent clashes between protesters and police, especially in the center of Paris. The Chabad House located on Champs-Elysées temporarily closed its doors last Shabbat for the first time in decades. In another instance, a huge banner that was displayed on an overpass over the main highway between Paris and Marseilles accused French President Emmanuel Macron of being a “w–- to the Jews.” Macron was once called ‘’President Rothschild’’  by an opposition politician in an antisemitic connotation reference to the president’s past functions as banker.

On social media, an anonymous source wearing a mask claimed, “it was the rich Jews who brought Macron to power so that he would be their puppet, and they are the ones who are pulling the strings. … they are responsible for the entire economic situation.” At least several protesters in the “yellow jacket” movement have posted videos with antisemitic content. One far-right activist invited people to protest a Chabad Menorah-lighting, claiming that while France was suffering Jews were busy celebrating.

The Jewish community has had to provide security on its own, and it has also felt it necessary to recommend at least for the past Shabbat, against bringing children to the synagogues.

‘’There has clearly been a spread of conspiracy theories on internet,’’ Johanna Barase, from the Inter-Ministerial delegation to combat racism, antisemitism and anti-LGBT hatred in France (DILCRAH), a body which is under the authority of the Prime Minister, told European Jewish Press. Moreover, some notorious antisemites like so-called humorist Dieudonné or Hervé Ryssen, both convicted several times for inciting hatred against Jews, have grafted themselves on the movement. ‘’The yellow jacket movement attracts anti-Semites who try to infuse theories like “Jews, Zionists are the elites, the financiers…’’

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