To the Editor:
According to Efraim Karsh and Rory Miller, anti-Semitism has increased significantly in France in recent years [“Europe’s Persecuted Muslims?,” April]. They include French Jewry as one of Europe’s “imperiled Jewish communities,” and report that “since 2000, the number of French Jews emigrating to Israel has tripled to some 3,000 a year, the highest figure since . . . 1967.” “Another 20,000 or so have announced their intention to relocate to Israel in the coming years.”
Earlier this year, the Israeli Foreign Ministry reported that the incidence of anti-Semitic acts rose throughout Europe in 2006. France saw a 20-percent increase, from 300 reported episodes in 2005 to 360 last year. In March, a report from the Council of French Jewish Organizations (CRIF) revealed that physical attacks on Jews rose 45 percent in 2006 as compared to the year before, and what they classify as “verbal” attacks increased by 71 percent.
All of this would seem to have come as a surprise to the then French ambassador to the United States, Jean-David Levitte, who claimed, in a speech in New York City last October, that there had been a “48-percent decrease in reported anti-Semitic incidents [in France] over the past year.” When questioned about that figure, the ambassador conceded that it was for the year 2005, not 2006. For 2006, the government claims only a 3-percent decrease. But even that much smaller figure is very much at odds with the latest reports.
The French government’s allocation of time and resources to fighting anti-Semitism is determined by its perception of the problem. If officials like the former ambassador, who now serves as diplomatic adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy, have convinced themselves that anti-Semitism is on the wane, will Paris commit the resources necessary to combat it?
Edward I. Koch
New York City
David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies
Efraim Karsh & Rory Miller write:
Edward I. Koch and Rafael Medoff are correct to point out the disparity between the views of the Israeli foreign ministry and the organized Jewish community in France and those of the French ambassador to the U.S. concerning the number of anti-Semitic incidents in France. Nothing should be allowed to mask the fact that over the last decade, French Jews and Jewish sites have increasingly become the target of what has been called, not inaccurately, “anti-Semitic terrorism.” It is to be hoped that the new administration of Nicolas Sarkozy will act quickly to improve the situation.