Intifada and Jewish Defence in France

Last month,I attended a Gaza solidarity march of 15,000 marchers through central Paris. Young French-born Muslims burned the Israeli flag, waving posters of the President of the Jewish community as a puppet-master pulling the strings of the French Government,while marching under the red banners of the Communist Party and trade unions

As they passed by,I noted some quizzical stares of semi-recognition.They were our bank tellers,supermarket assistants, neighbours. Here was a paradox These ordinary people certainly have the right to demonstrate for their cause,but are they not somewhat responsable for the consequences of their endorsement?

Some two dozen young men, faces covered in keffiye scarves,peeled off from the crowd,caught on camera proclaiming,’let’s go to the Jewish Quarter to get a JDLer (Jewish Defence League)’ That night,a Jewish kid at the demo had sent a Facebook message to his friends that he was going home,noting his address?

Eighteen with keffiye scarves were waiting outside his house with knuckledusters and steel bars.

It was ordinary people who bought the Big Lie,who committed atrocities for the Nazi cause.Ordinary people in wartime France collaborated in the deportation of French Jews.

Where are the trade unions,churches,teachers that once spoke out against antisemitism?Government solidarity statements and commitments to Jewish security ring hollow when extremist demonstrations are authorized,when arrested rioters are routinely released by judges with a warning or suspended sentence.

The Jews,in a sense of abandonment,are celebrating new heroes, the young men who held back the hordes of Hamas-supporters several times their number – who split away from another demo – at the siege of the Rue de la Roquette Synagogue on 13 July and other assaults on synagogues since.

Jewish defence was born following the October 1980 bombing of the synagogue of the Rue Copernic. The two-year wave of antisemitic terrorism that followed, consisted of twenty-nine shootings and bombings of Jewish targets in France, ending in August 1982 with the machine-gun massacre in the Jewish quarter’s Rue des Rosiers.

Out of that maelstrom was born the SPCJ (Protection Service of the Jewish Community) and the beginning of private community radio, led by four Jewish channels that could inform and mobilize support when needed.The SPCJ model of volunteers stationed outside synagogues and other Jewish institutions, in liaison with the local police force, has become standard security for communities across Europe.On the 30th anniversary of the Copernic bombing, the Centre Simon Wiesenthal-France proudly awarded the 4,000 graduates of the SPCJ its badge of honour.

In 2000, the blowback effect of the Intifada created a second wave of synagogue assaults, predominantly in the tenements ringing the cities, where working-class Jews lived cheek by jowel with alienated, mainly unemployed young Muslims.

By chance,sharing a table at an official dinner with a retired policemen turned bandleader, Sammy Ghozlan, the BNVCA (National Bureau for Vigilance against Antisemitism)Was born.Jewish defence was, thereby, brought to the perimeter, where it was most needed and became a respected partner for rooky police officers trying to comprehend the challenges of a growing Islamist defiance.

The third wave is now upon us. Demographics, the Internet and a new generation rejecting the host society, asserting its identity through Jihadism – though primarily antisemitic,this French Intifada is intrinsically anti –Western/anti-European/anti-Christian.

Mohammed Merah, the Toulouse Jewish school assassin proved this by also murdering French soldiers on leave.

The second wave in 2000 to 2004,had witnessed a “cowboy and Indian-style game”, played out as “”Palestinian and Israeli” – an Intifada transplanted to French soil – with young French Muslims targeting their vulnerable Jewish neighbour.

The phenomenon has now gone viral through social networks and Twitter, as a command structure emerges. The lone wolf is being replaced by the mob, but even rioters can be led and guided.There are reports that the Hamas followers were ripping off and destroying “mezuzot” from Jewish doorways.
Apparently, no longer. They are said to be now leaving them intact, in order to identify Jewish establishments for eventual looting.

How was the first wave of 1980 to 1982 brought to an end? As a by-product of Israel’s summer 1982 incursion to curb PLO terrorism from southern Lebanon, European terrorists training at PLO bases in the line of fire, fled home. Once repatriated, they used their expertise against banks, embassies and military installations. Jews were no longer their priority victims. The French and other governments cracked down, crushing the terrorists.

Today’s young French-born Islamists — soon to be reinforced by Jihadi interns returning from Syria – are piggybacking the cause of Palestine to vent their rage on the values and institutions of the French Republic.They are burning police stations, banks pharmacies, destroying hundreds of cars as sacking, torching and looting spread.

Just as Hamas rockets over Israeli cities are unacceptable, the radical Islamist threat to normal life in French cities is intolerable.

As the late Simon Wiesenthal would often say “What begins with the
Jews never ends with them” It needs only a catalyst to arrive at the

It took a march of no more than 300 ordinary people for Gaza Solidarity in the southern France provincial town of Gap, to take us over the edge.A dozen hooded Islamists beat a handicapped woman to pulp in the presence of witnesses.

The perpetrators had seen through the window of her apartment, what appeared to be a wall design of crosses and Stars of David.

It never ends with the Jews…

About the Author
Shimon Samuels is Emeritus Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He has served in the IDF. He was Deputy Director of the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, European Director of ADL, and Israel Director of AJC. He was born in UK, where he studied as also Israel, U.S. and Japan.