How things have changed in France

Things have changed, dramatically changed.

Yesterday, I was just a French Jew. Today, people look at me like as if I was a poor thing, a kind of refugee that has fled France to save her life. And between real trauma and panic, reality and nightmare, I don’t know where I stand.

It is possible that I am having a bad dream. I have been living one year and half in Israel, and I have been asked repeatedly “how bad” antisemitism is in France. I got used to those semi-worried faces that say much more that was actually asked – a kind of: “You see! Herzl was right!” or “what are you, damn French Jews, still doing there?!”. Yeah, I got used to that, and I usually didn’t take it too seriously and shrugged an appeasing “It depends where you live”, or “medias in Israel are always exaggerating the situation, just as French medias exaggerate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. That was rational, that was convincing, and, really that was true.

But could I convince someone anymore ? When you wake up after one year and half, and you know that 4 persons have been shot dead in the supermarket you frequently go to, and you see that synagogues and Jewish schools are protected by militaries… it looks much like a bad dream in which all your certitudes are shrinking and you can no longer deny.

So you start wondering, you start thinking… (-“At last!” they say) Was that a reality that you just ignored? So I really am a refugee ?

I cannot believe so. I cannot believe so because I grew up in France, and I know France, better than they do, better than Israelis or anyone else do. I know French society, yes Sir, because I have been to French public School, “l’Ecole de la République” – and I trust them. I know how the French people wants to be worthy of its values and that it won’t tolerate that the Jews are being worried in France -not today, not a second time. And anyone must also see how responsibly the French government has indeed reacted to the attack, with the standing ovation to the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, who condemned vigorously the new islamic antisemitic ideology spreading in France. Naturally French Jews are enduring trauma, but to give in to panic, and accept that others see us as “persecuted Jews” is just not the solution.

Yet, things have changed, changed dramatically. Yes, French Jews want to leave, speak about leaving. And before, I just had to convince others that things were not so terrible… now, I am the one left to be convinced.

About the Author
Anaël was born in France, and moved to study at the Hebrew University last year. She is currently living in Jerusalem.
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