Amid heavy security and rising tension, French Jews are preparing to commemorate the first anniversary of a brutal shooting at a kosher grocery that left four dead.
Last January 9, two days after Islamist gunmen stormed the Paris office of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, killing 11 staffers, terrorist Amedy Coulibaly entered the Hyper Cacher supermarket in the city, killing four men and provoking an extended standoff with police.
The Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF), the umbrella body encompassing much of the organized French Jewish community, announced that on the evening of Saturday, one year to the day after the attack, it would hold a tribute in front of the store to memorialize “those who were killed by terrorism.”
CRIF executive director Robert Ejnes said the ceremony would also memorialize the “victims of the most recent attacks in Paris this past November, as well as those killed in Jerusalem, in the USA, in Great Britain, in Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Africa” and elsewhere.
“The ceremony organized by the CRIF on Saturday evening – one year exactly after the assassination of four French Jews, killed because they were Jewish, shopping for the preparation of Shabbat – will be a major event for the commemoration of January 2015 terrorist acts in Paris,” Ejnes told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. “Many politicians, religious and civic leaders have confirmed their presence at the meeting. The families of the victims, the hostages and representatives of Charlie Hebdo will be present as well.”
On Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande unveiled a commemorative plaque at the market. It lists the names and ages of victims Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab and François-Michel Saada.
Ejnes told the Post that while statistics regarding the level of anti-Semitic violence in France have yet to be published, “we know that the number of anti-Semitic acts have been around the same number as the previous year.” He said the French government had reacted strongly by offering protection to “all” Jewish sites, as well as presenting a new national plan for combating anti-Semitism.
“The full effects have yet to be analyzed, but no doubt that the prime minister and the government have done the job,” he said.
The €100 million plan, announced last April, includes regular monitoring of racism and anti-Semitism in order to generate data, protect Jewish and Muslim houses of worship and communal institutions, and push back against discrimination.
Despite Ejnes’ optimism, some experts, including the late Dr. Robert Wistrich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Joel Rubinfeld of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, have said they did not believe that the initiative would yield significant returns.
“To fight a disease, you have to name causes, and generally in Western Europe most of the anti-Semitic attacks are from young Muslim people,” Rubinfeld told the Post after the plan was unveiled. He added that those seeking to mitigate anti-Semitic violence generally do not approach the root causes head on.
The Consistoire – the umbrella organization of religious congregations – has called upon French Jews to observe a special “Hyper Chabbat” (Shabbat) to honor of the victims of the attack, one of whom was the son of the chief rabbi of Tunis.
“Jews, we have the duty to always be hyper vigilant, hyper committed, hyper chabbat,” the group said in a statement.
Heavy security is planned for ceremonies honoring the 17 victims of the January 7-9 gunfire sprees in Paris, which proved to be a grim forerunner of the suicide bombings and shootings in the city 10 months later, in which 130 people died.
Read the full article at The Jerusalem Post