France Slams Anti-Semitic Violence at Pro-Palestinian Rallies

French Interior Minister

The French Interior Minister said that his government would crack down on any form of anti-Semitism after sectarian violence tarnished the pro-Palestinian rallies that were taking place in and around Paris. The rallies were being organized as France’s protest against Israel’s unjustifiable behavior in the recent two-week old Middle East conflict.

France not only houses the largest number of Jews in Europe but it is also home to the majority of Muslims in the continent. Unfortunately, both communities become highly agitated when any sort of violence takes place in or around the Middle East. Earlier this month, the front door of a kosher grocery shop in a Jewish Parisian suburb was burnt down and before that, pro-Palestinian demonstrators clashed with riot police outside two Parisian synagogues.

“It is unacceptable to target synagogues or shops simply because they are managed by Jews. Nothing can justify anti-Semitism, nothing can justify that kind of violence. This will be fought and sanctioned,” said Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve during a visit to Sarcelles, which is also home to large non-Jewish immigrant populations.

According to the local media, a young mob in Sarcelles rioted with police and burnt down cars while looting people, a situation that affected non-Jewish localities as well. Socialist politicians and protesters have condemned the banning of rallies in Sarcelles and Paris, calling the decision counter-productive, even though Cazeneuve has said that he would have reacted the same way, if churches or mosques had been attacked.

The first three months of 2014 witnessed more Jews leaving France for Israel than ever before since the Jewish state was first established in 1948. Most of them may have cited economic hardships as the primary reason for relocation but a significant number of Jews also reported a dramatic rise in anti-Semitic treatment.

Since conflict in the Middle East reached its peak in the first week of July, killing more than 500 people, most of whom were Palestinians, the United Nations Security Council urged for an immediate ceasefire and many pro-Palestinian demonstrators accused France of backing Israel, especially after the government’s ban on rallies. France, of course, rejected all such accusations, with Cazeneuve saying decisions regarding future rallies will be taken on a case-by-case basis.

Photo Credits: Reuters Media

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