‘things have only gotten worse, much worse’
Nidra Poller is a Jew, who once lived in America, living in France. She’s finding it hard to stay there. Her piece in Commentary is a must-read. An excerpt:
I’m being treated to a poignant lesson in European and Jewish history. The 30’s: why did they stay? Why didn’t they run for their lives? Couldn’t they see what was happening? I see before me a vivid demonstration of the deep roots we dig to make our lives bloom, the intricate biology of a human life, irrigated with the lifeblood of a community, inextricably connected to a society, born of life to give life to keep life alive. Leaving is not packing up and tipping your hat goodbye. It is tearing live flesh out of a living matrix.
I am, or was, the first American-born generation in a family that fled Europe before World War I: a lesson in the wisdom of leaving before it is too late. Now I am the first stage in the story of a three-generation “French” family. Why don’t people just pick up and go while they still can? It’s always the same. There is an ailing grandmother, a son in medical school, a daughter who just got married, a business too good to throw away and not good enough to sell. There are in-laws and obligations and unfinished business and . . . hope. Hope that it will all blow over. That people will come to their senses, reason win out, normal life resume. And so, blinded by hope, people minimize danger and cling to an imagined stability.
Jews are being persecuted every day in France. Some are insulted, pelted with stones, spat upon; some are beaten or threatened with knives or guns. Synagogues are torched, schools burned to the ground. A little over a month ago, at least one Jew was savagely murdered, his throat slit, his face gouged with a carving knife. Did it create an uproar? No. The incident was stifled, and by common consent—not just by the authorities, but by the Jews.
Some Jews are simply frightened; they are reluctant to take the subway, walk in certain neighborhoods, go out after dark. Others, clearly identifiable as Jews, are courageous and defiant. Many, perhaps the majority, show no outward signs of Jewishness and do not seek to know the truth about the rampant and increasingly violent anti-Semitism all around them. If you are Jewish but do not defend Israel or act too religious or look too different, you are not yet a target—so why insist on monitoring the danger when daily life is so delicious?
Posted by Karol at 05:53 PM
I have been saying for two years that Jewish families should flee France.
France today is where Germany was in 1934 in anti-Semitism. The next step for Jews in France is mass murder.
Any American who looks Jewish should not go to France or should at least stay out of the cities.
Do tell where you get this all knowing wisdom about France Jake? The same place as you get your wealth of knowledge about the UK political and legal system perhaps? Would fighting, and making more people aware of, anti semitism not make more sense than fleeing it ?
The part Karol posted was the most damming part, though the genral tone was not too different. It is quite a personal account, and she shoots from the hip a bit. Interesting read.
I went to France in 2002 on two separate occasions and felt as safe as I do here. We felt a little unsafe when wandering into a neighborhood in Marseille that appeared to be somewhat Muslim, but no more unsafe that walking around certain high crime American neighborhoods.
The problem with France and many other European countries is that they have let in too many Muslims who are not assimilating well. Gradually, Europeans are beginning to wake up to this fact. France is now trying to use more coercive measures to encourage assimilation (such as banning headscarves). I hope they succeed in their efforts.
Urbane, I sort of agree with you that’s it’s better to stay and fight than to flee but the Jews in France are not fighting. There was that story recently of a rabbi telling Jews not to wear their yarmulkes on the metro. I mean, if I need to hide who I am and the leadership of my religion encourages said hiding, then perhaps I’m in the wrong place. That said, the three times I’ve been in Paris I never had any problems for being Jewish, but plenty of problems for being American (and before anyone wonders what very American things I was doing- in most cases the men doing the harrassing knew we were American because of our teeth. Yes, really.) Still, I hear a lot of stories from Jews in France about the trouble going on know. It seems to them that the French police are powerless and unwilling to stop attacks against Jews. The French people I know blame everything bad that happens in Paris on ‘the Arabs’, Dan is right that assimilation is not happening and not expected to happen. So, what’s the solution?
BTW, Free societies shouldn’t have to ban religious symbols.
Was your use of the question “what’s the solution?” supposed to be ironic?
I guess that I do not have as benign a view of religion as you do. Religion has often been the enemy of freedom. I think that the kind of Islam that encourages women to cover their heads is the kind of Islam that represents a threat to a free society. It is not just the French that think this. Ataturk thought the same thing which is why they also have restrictions on headscarves in Turkey. The French are coming to understand that if the Muslims in their country do not assimilate, their own freedoms will be threatened.
Dan talks about Marseille, which I think has the biggest problem of racial tension in France. Not sure if Dan said assimilation is not expected to happen though – only that there are major problems (Zinadine Zidane provides a positive role model for example).
Contrary to popular belief, the French have always been more acutely aware of Islamic fundementalism than the rest of Europe (slating the UK frequently for what they say is our lax attitude towards it). The banning of headscarves is a bit dodgy in a free country I agree. But on the other hand, I think marking out or segregating kids though education sucks too (whether it is the ridiculous state funded seperate Catholic/Protestant schools in this country or seperating Jews/Muslims from the rest of society elsewhere. Indeed, one of my formitive adolescent love interests was a half Jewish girl, and later on, a Catholic girl popped my cherry. Vive le difference !
All that sounds very very messed up. But riddle me this…. What can the people living in the States do to help those living in terror?