This morning was lovely. First I saw this at CNN, about record numbers of French Jews saying au revoir! Any Jewish person who hasn’t thrown Leftist acid in their own eyes has seen this, but it is nice that the media sees fit to mention it:
Yoav Krief remembers the day he knew it was time to move to Israel: January 9, 2015.
It was a Friday. Four Jews had just been killed in the Hyper Cacher, a kosher supermarket in Paris, two days after the Charlie Hebdo attack. One of them was Krief’s friend.
“I was not good, really not good,” Krief says of how he felt at the time. “I talked to my mom, and I said, ‘We must go to Israel. We need to go to Israel.'”
Krief, a French Jew who had just finished high school, moved to Israel with his family six months later, as part of the largest migration of Jews from Western Europe to Israel since the modern state of Israel was created. [The article could have said: …since WWII, but let that go… – Aggie]
Nearly 8,000 French Jews moved to Israel in the year following the Charlie Hebdo attack, according to the Jewish Agency, which handles Jewish immigration, or aliyah, to Israel.
The number of French Jews moving to Israel has doubled — and doubled again — in the past five years.
In 2013, less than 3,300 French Jews moved to Israel. Only two years earlier, that number stood at 1,900.
Many French Jews settle in Ashdod, a city in southern Israel known for its large French population.
You are as likely to hear French on the streets as you are Hebrew, especially in one of the city’s many French cafés.
“It’s great for me here, much better than France,” says Charly Dahan, a musician who moved to Israel from Paris two years ago.
“This is the first time in my life that I am relaxed. In France, I also felt good, but the situation and the current problems… it’s very difficult to live as a Jew in France,” he adds.
“While high-profile attacks such as those at the Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012, the Jewish museum in Brussels in 2014, and the kosher supermarket in Paris and the synagogue in Copenhagen last year have certainly been the most vivid instances of violence targeting French and European Jews, the French Jewish community has been living with a deep sense of insecurity for quite some time,” says Avi Mayer, spokesman for the Jewish Agency.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls recently expressed the fear that an exodus of Jews would change the country for the worse.
“Without the Jews, France is no longer France. It’s the oldest community. They have been French citizens since the French revolution,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
But when the European Union studied the prevalence of anti-Semitism in 2013, it found that 74% of Jews in France avoid openly identifying themselves as Jewish at least some of the time, and more than a quarter of French Jews always do.
Dov Cohen, a French Jew who left Marseille for Ashdod last summer, says he never wore his religious skullcap, or kippa, in public.
“You have to watch out,” Cohen says about his life in France. “You have to protect the children because of fights in the metro and on the buses. This pushed us to decide to make aliyah,” he says.
Ok, so that is the France that we’ve been describing for the entire ten years that we’ve kept the blog, right BTL? But this, from the NY Times, actually warms the cold cockles of my heart:
Before commencing, please note that the writer is the former editor-in-chief of Le Monde and currently the editorial director. That makes it ever so much sweeter.
We are reaching the end of the “Happy New Year” period which, in France, traditionally covers the whole month of January, and it’s a relief. In Paris, last year started and ended with devastating terrorist attacks. As we all expect another assault anytime anywhere, amid persistent economic gloom and an unsolved migrant crisis, wishing the best for 2016 has become an inconvenient rite. The French radio host Philippe Meyer has taken to wishing his listeners “a better year than the one we’re going to have.”
This minor discomfort happens to betray a deeper reality, which is only starting to sink in: The events of 2015 changed our lives in a much more fundamental way than we like to admit. By “events,” I mean more than the massacres at Charlie Hebdo, Hyper Cacher and the Bataclan. I mean the attacks in Tunis, Bamako, Jakarta, Istanbul, Ouagadougou, all those foreign places where Europeans and locals can be killed together. I mean the wars in Syria and Iraq, the millions of displaced people, the unstoppable flow of refugees to Europe, the enormous challenge of integrating them, as shown by the New Year’s Eve nightmare in Cologne. I mean our jihadist fellow countrymen and women. I mean the rise of the far right and populist parties. [In other words, the Euro-left doesn’t know whether to sh.t or turn further Left – Aggie
By “our lives,” I mean more than French lives. I mean German lives, Swedish lives, Danish lives, Greek lives — on top of all those involved outside Europe. All European Union countries — except maybe for a handful of post-Communist member states — are now affected by the terrorist threat or the migrant crisis, or both. Our hopes that the two could be distinct were dashed when the French police identified two of the Paris assassins as men who had arrived in Europe via the “migrant route.” [I’m channeling Jackie Gleason here: How Sweet It Is! – Aggie]
We are all Europeans, united by our geographic proximity to the chaotic Middle East, facing multiple challenges to our common cultural identity.
Part of our “new normal” is now visible. Soldiers have been protecting our synagogues and mosques for a year. We learned to open our bags for a security guard; now we also open our coats to show we are not hiding an explosive belt. The chiefs of police and emergency services have reassessed their priorities; editors have reassigned reporters. French Jews are debating whether to give up wearing a yarmulke following the terrorist slashing of a Jewish teacher in Marseille, or keep it on, defiantly: In a poll, 70 percent of the French say they should keep it. Germany has hired 8,500 teachers to help with some 200,000 children of foreign refugees entering the school system this year.
Politicians are busy reviewing legislation to give more powers to anti-terrorist forces. To deter migrants, Sweden has imposed checks on its border with Denmark, which has in turn imposed checks on its border with Germany. Proposals that would have seemed completely off the wall a year ago are now being discussed in all seriousness, like seizing cash and valuables from asylum seekers (Denmark), interning those who arrive without passports (Germany), or stripping French citizenship from dual nationals convicted of terrorist acts.
Terrorism and Europe’s biggest migration crisis since World War II frame the political debate in and among many E.U. countries. These twin problems also present formidable challenges for Brussels. All agree that the Union’s external borders should be secured, but who will secure them? All agree that national intelligence services don’t cooperate closely enough, but who will cede sovereignty on this sensitive activity? There is no common immigration or asylum policy, but how can we agree on one?
Beneath the surface of the new normal lie even more uncomfortable challenges. The public reaction to this situation, particularly in France and Germany, reveals a crucial dilemma: How, as a society, do we make necessary adjustments without betraying the values that define us? This question is at the heart of a passionate debate in France over where to stop the pendulum’s swing between security and liberty; many of those who cherish their liberties struggle with the feeling that, at the moment, they value their security even more. Political elites may hate it, but polls show that proposals like depriving certain terrorists of French citizenship enjoy popular support. [It’s okay to burst into laughter here; I won’t tell. – Aggie]
Mourad Benchellali, a French former Guantánamo inmate, who was released in 2004 and jailed in France until 2006, has experienced this changing sentiment first hand. Over the past few years, after writing a book, he has dedicated himself to preventing the radicalization of young Muslims. Now 34 and a father, he notices how feelings in France have hardened since the November attacks, which killed 130 people. “People are more reluctant to ask me to speak in schools or in prisons,” he told me recently. “Some are even canceling. After Charlie, people were worried about the government going too far with security. Since November, this is all they want.”
Soul-searching is not the order of the day; liberal intellectuals have been incensed by recent remarks by Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who equals “explaining” jihadism with “wanting to find ways to excuse it.”
The Germans are equally torn. Since the ghastly New Year’s Eve in Cologne, the celebrated Wilkommenskultur toward refugees has given way to serious doubts about how to integrate mass male migration, and to serious accusations against the police and the media. The cultural gap between a liberal, wealthy, secular Europe and a patriarchal, conservative, Muslim society has widened to an ocean. How long will it take to bridge it? How do you ensure that hard-won women’s rights and freedom are not endangered? How do you teach cultural norms?
These are difficult questions — and they are being asked all over Europe. There are no easy answers, only a few predictions: Jihadism will not be defeated in 2016, and war and misery in the Middle East and Africa will send ever more people across the Mediterranean — around 2,000 still arrive in Europe by sea every day.
So we’d better work together, set up common policies to secure our borders, fight terrorism, relocate refugees, and promote daring ideas for integration that will avoid ghettoization. The only response has to be a joint one: working separately would be foolish. If a 28-member European Union can’t do it, then let’s set up smaller groups. There is no more time to waste.
Sylvie Kauffmann is the editorial director and a former editor in chief of Le Monde.
Ahem. Let me give you the same advice that you and those of your ilk have given to Israel for the past 16 years: Show Restraint. It is fascist to close your borders or to take the few, pitiful possessions of the desperate immigrants who crowd what you so laughingly describe as your “borders”. We are all one world, remember that. People are mostly good if we let them be. What have you done to the poor immigrants and the terrorist citizens to make them hate you so much? Look in the mirror to understand this mess. We must to make accommodations for differences. If you hadn’t treated your Muslim population so horrifically in the past – in Algeria, in the banelieus (sp? means suburbs) – perhaps you could all sing the Marseillais (sp? who cares…) together! One other piece of advice: Locate those salt mines that the Nazis used to hide the loot and get all the art in your museums packed up and ready for quick storage. You can turn the museums into various shelters for the new immigrants.
PS: You know in the bible how they have various plagues? Boils, locusts, that kind of thing? It kind of reminds me of Europe today.