An alarming report has come out of France showing that nearly half of the country’s Jewish families are telling their children to hide their identities for fear of antisemitism.
France, like most Western nations, has long prided itself on its multiculturalism and the freedom of religion and other rights among its citizens. In school, children are taught to be their true selves and to express that to others. Why is it then that in the year 20222, nearly half of all French Jewish children are growing up in a fearful environment where they are forced to hide their identities?
The fault here doesn’t lie with Jewish parents who are simply trying to protect their vulnerable children. This tells of a more systemic problem within French society, and these Jewish families are being let down by government officials and schools.
The report, entitled “Annual Assessment: The Situation and Dynamics of the Jewish People,” was published in September, and documents an increase in antisemitism across Europe and the US. The report shows there is an increase of antisemitism from both left and right sides of politics in varying degrees depending on the country. In France, it appears far-left, anti-Israel views are the main cause of this increase, along with radical Islam.
The report explains: “In France, political Islam intersects with progressive fringes. A primary source of antisemitism emanates from the extreme left fringe and often conceals itself behind the mask of human rights and egalitarianism.”
“The Jewish state is frequently described by activists in these movements as the last bastion of colonialism, an evil entity that should be dismantled. This is often accompanied by age-old antisemitic tropes, creating a hostile environment for Jews,” the report states.
Some of the key findings of the report show that 20% of French Jews have been physically assaulted because of their identity. Additionally, over a third of French Jews feel insecure living in France to the point where 45% of the Jewish parents who were surveyed said they ask their children to keep their identity secret in public and not tell anyone they are Jewish.
Jewish teens and young adults in France are also “lowering their profile” as Jews in order to “avoid confrontation with radical antisemitic and anti-Israel elements” of French society. While the majority of antisemitic incidents seem to stem from anti-Israel narratives of the radical left, there has also been an increase in extreme right-wing views. This in turn leads to more antisemitism.
France is home to around 446,000 Jewish people. This is the third-largest population of Jews in the world outside of Israel and the largest in Europe. Despite the hostile environment in France, the Jewish community are showing resilience. While there is a steady decline in the Jewish population figures, there are relatively few French Jews making aliyah to Israel. Many are preferring to continue their lives in the country they call home and continue to raise their families there.
As Christians, we must continue to speak out against antisemitism in our societies. It is shameful that Jewish children are living in fear that their identity will be revealed to others. No child should be forced to hide who they are, especially not in a modern society. French authorities must do more to fix this crisis and ensure the Jewish community is safe. If it does not act, France will be guilty of failing Jews in their time of need.
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