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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Fear on rise, Jews in France weigh an exit.............


PARIS: French Jews, already feeling under siege by anti-Semitism, say the trauma of the terrorist attacks last week has left them scared, angry, unsure of their future in France and increasingly willing to consider conflict-torn Israel as a safer refuge. 

"It is a war here," said Jacqueline Cohen, owner of an art store on Rue des Rosiers in a Jewish neighborhood lined with falafel and Judaica shops where many businesses were closed Monday morning. "After what happened, we feel safer in the center of Tel Aviv than we do here in the heart of Paris." 

"In Israel, there is an Iron Dome to protect us," she added, referring to Israel's antimissile defense system. "Here we feel vulnerable and exposed. We are afraid to send our children to school." 

Residents said their worry intensified after Friday's terrorist attack, when a heavily armed Frenchman, Amedy Coulibaly, stormed the kosher Hyper Cacher supermarket in Porte de Vincennes in eastern Paris. Four hostages were killed in that episode. So acute is the sense of insecurity among Jews that Serge Cwajgenbaum, secretary general of the European Jewish Congress, said the four supermarket victims were to be buried in Jerusalem on Tuesday, partly because of fears that their graves would be desecrated in France. 

Mr Cwajgenbaum said that the attack at the supermarket was a tipping point for French Jews after a recent spate of anti-Semitic attacks, including the tossing of firebombs and attacks on synagogues and shops in Jewish neighborhoods in Paris that coincided with Israel's incursion in Gaza last summer. A French-born man was accused of gunning down four people at the Jewish museum in Brussels in May. 

France was the largest source of Jews moving to Israel last year, according to the Jewish Agency for Israel, which coordinates migration to Israel. Its director, Natan Sharansky, predicted that up to 15,000 French Jews would emigrate this year, and that more than 50,000 French Jews would leave in the next few years. There are roughly 500,000 Jews in France, which has Europe's largest Jewish population.

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