In July 2015, Alain Benhamou came home to find the words “Dirty Jew” scrawled across the wall of his apartment just outside of Paris. This marked the second time within three months that Benhamou had been a victim of discrimination in Bondy, a small Parisian suburb that he lived in for over 40 years.
Now, Benhamou is just one more French Jew who is leaving his home to seek a safer neighborhood where Jews are more accepted. In 2015, over 8,000 French Jews relocated to Israel, a move that could have been caused in part by the terrorist attack on a kosher supermarket in the country.
France has the largest population of Jewish people in Europe, however it’s also home to the largest population of Muslims. This community has slowly overpowered the Jewish population, creating an atmosphere of anti-semitism and intolerance.
This new form of terrorism has led some French Jews to feel uncomfortable wearing their skullcaps or expressing their faith in their own homes. Can you blame them? After the Charlie Hebdo attackers held Jewish hostages at a kosher supermarket, Jews began to feel a shift in how they were treated within the community. Their suspicions were confirmed with shortly after, a rabbi in Marseilles was attacked and killed by an ISIS supporter.
In fact, after the attacks against French Jews, one French official even advised the community not to wear their skullcaps outside the home to prevent crime.
Besides Israel, London has also become a new home to many Jews who decide to leave France for a more tolerant community. Although London also has a large Muslim population, Jews have not been directly targeted by extremist Muslims in London as of yet.
In London, Jews find more job opportunities and tolerance towards their religion. London synagogues have now started to give sermons in French to cater to the rise in French Jews within the community.
Although a large wall inscribed with the many names of French Jews who were killed by Nazis stands in the yards of the Grand Synagogue, it seems that history may be starting to repeat itself. Discriminating against Jews is just one small part of the war against terrorism, but it seems like this vulnerable population is once again being targeted—and largely forgotten—fueled by hatred.