Jews are a disappearing community in Paris because of rising anti-semitism


Jews who have lived peacefully in the suburbs of Paris are now having to move   to escape anti-Semtism.
Jews who have lived peacefully in the suburbs of Paris are now having to move to escape anti-Semtism.
Jews who have lived peacefully in the suburbs of Paris are now having to move to other parts of the country or head for Israel to escape anti-Semitism.

When Alain Benhamou walked into his apartment near Paris in July 2015 and saw the words “dirty Jew” scrawled on the wall, he knew it was time to leave.

It was his second such break-in in less than three months and the 71-year-old no longer felt welcome in Bondy, a Parisian suburb he had called home for more than 40 years.

“Until the years 2000-2005, the town was nice and quiet, with 250 to 300 Jewish families and synagogues full on the Sabbath,” Benhamou says.

“Now, only about a hundred Jewish families remain.”

Benhamou is part of a growing number of French Jews who have effectively become internal refugees, fleeing insecurity and seeking protection in numbers in an atmosphere they say is increasingly hostile, and often expressed in relation to conflict in the Middle East.

He moved a few miles south to Villemomble, where there is a larger and more established Jewish community.

But others have fled France altogether.

ANTI SEMITISM GRAFITTIA record 8,000 or so French Jews moved to Israel in 2015 alone, according to Israeli figures, in the year that a jihadist gunman linked to the Charlie Hebdo newspaper attackers killed four Jews in a kosher supermarket.

France has the largest Jewish population in Europe, estimated at 500,000 to 600,000 people.

Half of them live in the Paris region but their numbers have declined steadily over the past 15 years, researchers say.

Jerome Fourquet of polling firm IFOP says the change started around 2000 following a fresh surge of violence between Israel and the Palestinians, known as the second intifada.

With France also home to Europe’s largest Muslim community, which counts around five million members, the bloodshed in the Middle East unleashed a wave of unrest, particularly in the Paris region which saw a surge in anti-Semitic acts and threats, he says.

A disappearing community

Benhamou still lives within the sprawling Seine-Saint-Denis department that sits northeast of the capital and combines run-down immigrant ghettos with trendy new gentrified business districts.

In the last 15 years, it has gone from being one of France’s most densely-populated Jewish areas to what the community now considers “one of the lost territories of the Republic”.

“The Jewish community is expected to disappear from here,” Benhamou says.

In nearby Raincy, Rabbi Moshe Lewin shares Benhamou’s pessimism, fearing he could be one of the last Jewish leaders in Seine-Saint-Denis.

“What upsets me is that in some areas of France, Jews can no longer live peacefully, and that just five minutes from my home, some are forced to hide their kippas (skullcaps) or their Star of David,” he admits.

Even areas with a strong Jewish population, such as Sarcelles to the north, still have major problems.

Francois Pupponi, the Socialist mayor of Sarcelles, says many Jewish residents come to him for help with stories of being assaulted or having swastikas daubed on walls outside their homes.

Some have been caught in “extremely violent situations” that in some cases required families to be “urgently rehoused”, says Pupponi.

He become aware of “a phenomenon of internal migration” about five or six years ago, which he says “is getting worse”.

‘Little Jerusalem’

Nonetheless, Jews from elsewhere still see Sarcelles as a relative haven.

New arrivals now find “a much stronger police and institutional presence” than before and “they can live out their Judaism here in safety,” says Pupponi.

Among the newcomers is Eva Sandler, the widow of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler who was killed in an Islamist shooting attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012.

Other areas have also seen an influx of new arrivals.

Many say the heart of the Jewish community is no longer Sarcelles but in Paris’ western 17th district which has now taken over the moniker of “Little Jerusalem”.

Now in his 60s, Robert moved there a decade ago with the northwestern neighbourhood’s Jewish population reflected in the wealth of eateries selling kosher foods, from specialised sweet shops to sushi bars.

“Because anti-Semitism is growing, we try and stick together to avoid it,” admits Robert, who did not want to give his surname.

Community group the Consistoire Israelite has taken note of the shift in centre of gravity and is currently building a Centre for European Judaism in the neighbourhood which is slated to open next year.

‘Becoming less visible’

But across the city in the eastern neighbourhood of Saint-Mande, the wind appears to have changed.

Formerly known for its large Jewish community with two synagogues and a community day care centre, the district has been badly hit by the deadly hostage-taking at the kosher supermarket in January 2015.

“There were about 12 or 13 Sainte-Mande residents among (the hostages),” recalls local mayor Patrick Beaudouin.

“It had a huge psychological impact.”

He said dozens of families had since left the area, deciding it was best “to spread out, to be less visible”.

For now, most French Jews have preferred to cluster in towns and neighbourhoods where they know a large Jewish community already exists.

But that decision to flock together brings about its own problems.

“We are creating ghettos,” Pupponi says. “We are aware of that.”

The solution, he says, would be “to achieve social and ethnic integration in all neighbourhoods.”

“But France has been trying to achieve this for the past 30 years and it still hasn’t happened.”
The Local .FR



23 responses to “Jews are a disappearing community in Paris because of rising anti-semitism”

  1. Matrix Avatar

    Jews who have lived peacefully in the suburbs of Paris are now having to move to escape anti-Semtism.
    Wouldn’t be surprise if some of them migrate to the jewish state.

  2. Matrix Avatar

    Qu’est-ce que la “quenelle” de Dieudonné?
    Hi Melanie, We actually forgot to mention in the article chapô it was a devious form of Nazi hello, “for some.” We specified. From there to accuse us of “lying” and “disinformation” is a bit exaggerated, right? Have a good day 🙂 The team MetroNews

    Demonstrators make the “quenelle” at the Day of Rage protests against President François Hollande in Paris, January 26, 2014. (Philipe Rojazer/Reuters)

  3. Rudy1947 Avatar

    The French penal system has a 70% Muslim population.

    1. Omega Avatar

      How is it relevant idiot?

      1. Rudy1947 Avatar

        How are you relevant?

  4. 5thDrawer Avatar

    Tribalism groups them together … ancient concepts.

    1. Again with the “them”. What are the “concepts” you’re talking about?

      1. 5thDrawer Avatar

        Concept … ‘Huddle together for protection from new thoughts and different ideologies.’
        (also, in some cases, against some other skin colours …)

        1. Arabs have different skin colors from (mostly North African) Jews? You’re a fountain of knowledge, mate :).

          1. 5thDrawer Avatar

            I was thinking of Alabama ….

          2. The piece is about France. No Alabama, or even Louisiana, in sight.

          3. 5thDrawer Avatar

            Same concepts.

          4. Not even close.

          5. 5thDrawer Avatar

            Huddled Black Masses are NOT the same as Huddled Jewish Semi-White Masses??
            (wait until he sees a city with 2 Chinatowns … hehehe)

          6. I thought in your analogy the (French) Jooz were like Alabama whites.

          7. 5thDrawer Avatar

            Hmmmm … a prospective view … there is always ‘white trash’, isn’t there.

          8. So my reading of your obtuse remark was right? Speaking in riddles is a very Jooish thing, by the way. But at least some of theirs are witty.

    2. Barry Avatar

      But other ethnic groups living together is ok. you living in a Western society in a neighborhood devoid of people unlike you is ok. You are truly truly sick.

      1. 5thDrawer Avatar

        I assure you ‘my’ neighborhood is really well-mixed – From the long black face-coverings to the cuties in halter-tops & shorts … I love summer because of those ones … and the East Indian Lady who just delivered newspapers wasn’t unimpressive either, so I assume her husband trusts her.
        YOU have no idea of the ‘variety-pack’ around here. And we can talk over the yard fences and say ‘hi’ on the sidewalk too. Isn’t THAT amazing?
        (exception is the face-covered one who does the daily fast walkercise 3x around the block with the black sheet flowing, and the one in gym-gear with weights …. but they are ‘Exercisers’ – different breed altogether. :-)))))

  5. David Cooper Avatar
    David Cooper

    So what is being done about it?

    1. 5thDrawer Avatar

      France is the country of ‘Laissez–faire’ … why would the French do anything?
      People have to sort out their own problems. (within certain laws of France, of course.)

  6. Omega Avatar

    A record 8,000 or so French Jews moved to Israel in 2015 alone, according to Israeli figures, in the year that a jihadist gunman linked to the Charlie Hebdo newspaper attackers killed four Jews in a kosher supermarket.

    Charlie Hebdo was nothing but a CIA-MOSSAD false flags.

    They want all the Jews in one place (IsraHell) for a reason.

    1. Rudy1947 Avatar


      Time for a urine test.

Leave a Reply