More and more Jewish people leaving Europe over security concerns
Czech Radio reports that Delphine Ankaoua never thought she would feel like an uninvited guest in the luxury Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine. Recently, however, her neighbors asked her to remove her mezuzah, a small box containing a Hebrew text from Holy Writ, from her doorpost, so she decided it was time she and her family moved to Israel.
"It was an unbelievable shock for us," the 39-year-old woman told the British weekly Sunday Times. She had already instructed her sons to hide their skull-caps under baseball caps when they were out in public.
However, Ankaoua never expected her own neighbors to behave this way. "We called an organization that helps Jewish people face anti-Semitism, and they just told us to take the mezuzah down," she says.
If she still had any doubts about moving, they were done away with two weeks prior to her planned move to Israel. Someone told her seven-year-old son that he wasn't allowed to play in the garden because he is Jewish.
"I almost wanted to exclaim: Merci, la France! Thanks, France, for making our goodbye so much easier!" Ankaoua says.
In her new home in Jerusalem she has begun working for the state authority that aids other European Jews with their travel away from countries that are now full of enmity toward them. An extreme form of this loathing of Jewish people is represented by the recent events in Brussels, during which a radical anti-Semite murdered four visitors to the Jewish Museum as well as a staffer there.
While that case has sparked international outrage, Belgian police have yet to find the perpetrator. According to data provided by the Israeli Government, the current exodus from Europe is affecting France most strongly, where more than half a million members of the Jewish minority live, as well as Belgium, whose Jewish community numbers 42 000.
The number of French Jews leaving doubled in 2013 compared to previous years after an Algerian anti-Semite murdered seven people in Toulouse, including three young children from a Jewish school. Last year a total of 3 374 Jewish people moved to Israel.
This year the total number could be as high as 5 000 , with 1 499 people having left by the end of April. Serge Cwajgenbaum, Secretary-General of the World Jewish Congress, claims far more Jewish people are also leaving Britain, Canada and the USA.
"Jewish people don't have doubts about their future only in France, but in all of Europe. They fear for their security," he says.
The EU authority for the elimination of racism has determined on the basis of a survey conducted among members of the Jewish minority that European anti-Semitism is most widespread today in Belgium, France and Hungary. Almost half of the respondents are concerned they will be subjected to insults, while 33 % live in fear of physical assault.
One-quarter of respondents said they avoid Jewish buildings, institutions and social events because they do not feel safe. The head of the leading Israeli center for research into anti-Semitism, Robert Wistrich, says the vast majority of attacks on Jewish people and their property are linked to Islamic extremism but that this is not discussed in Europe because of political correctness.
Wistrich believes the "traditional" anti-Semitism of the extreme right is restricted mainly to hateful statements and verbal aggression. "Few people even notice the extraordinarily intense anti-Semitic campaign being waged online," Wistrich said.
Even French comedian Dieudonné M´bala M´bala, who has been convicted of disseminating anti-Semitism and forbidden entry into Britain, does not excite much comment in France. Rabbi David Mamou, who until recently ran an Orthodox Jewish school with more than 1 200 pupils in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, told the Sunday Times that police there recommended he completely cancel his celebrations of the Jewish holidays.
Reportedly the danger of such attacks is greatest at those times of year. "I grew up in a suburb together with Arabs, Chinese people, and members of other ethnicities. Today, however, the jihadists are targeting only us, and they are spending enormous amounts of money to disseminate hatred of Israel and the Jews. The concerns in the Jewish community are so strong that the World Jewish Congress has set up a website, sacc.eu, with instructions on what to do in case of attack or any other form of racial and religious hatred," Mamou said.
Since the attack in Belgium, all of the Jewish buildings and monuments there are being guarded. The Israeli Government, in the meantime, is doing its best to provide for the new arrivals and is establishing a special branch for Francophone Jews.
Those emigrés include 64-year-old Emmy Wybrana, who traveled to Tel Aviv last year after the attacks in her native Brussels became unbearable to her. Her husband Josef was shot dead in 1989 and it took the police 20 years of a confused investigation to discover his murderer was a Moroccan anti-Semite.
"My father survived Auschwitz and my mother fled the Warsaw ghetto. In Belgium they were welcomed with open arms after the war, and we spent some beautiful years there, but things there have fundamentally changed," Wybrana said.
The murders in the Jewish Museum in Brussels recently were no surprise to Wybrana. "It is definitely not improving there. On the contrary, I think it will just get worse and worse there," she concludes.
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