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Antisemitism on the Rise: A First Person Account of Being a Jew in France

French President Emmanuel Macron at a ceremony in Paris to commemorate French victims of the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in Israel. Photo: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

My friend, Marc, lives in a medium-sized city in France with a medium-sized Jewish community. He considers himself a “medium” Jew. He wears a Star of David necklace, but not a kippah. On Friday nights, his family gathers for Shabbat dinner and lights candles, but they watch TV afterwards. He goes to synagogue for bar and bat mitzvahs, but otherwise prefers to relax at home on Saturday mornings. He usually goes to Israel once a year for celebrations with family members who live in the north of the country — it’s a quick and inexpensive flight from France. He has two nephews and one niece serving in the Israeli military right now.

Since October 7, his life has changed because of antisemitism. Not “grab-the-suitcase” changed, but profoundly and pervasively changed.

Antisemitic incidents and terror attacks have plagued France for two decades, but it was different before. The antisemitism Marc knew was the horror of hearing about Islamist terrorists killing Jews at a Jewish school or at a kosher store. Attacks on the street seemed mostly to happen to Jews who lived in “bad” neighborhoods. Marc knew people who knew individuals who had been assaulted, but the worst his family had experienced was the time a car of young men drove in front of his synagogue and yelled, “F— the Jews.”

After October 7, Marc is no longer just a “medium” Jew. Now he’s a “stop-and-think” Jew.

Now he sees “Death to Zionists” graffiti on the street near his synagogue, which causes him to stop and think. He knows the synagogue is safe, because it’s protected by police and the Jewish community’s own security. But he’s heard about Jews in other cities who were assaulted on their way to synagogue, and he knows the police can’t be everywhere. He read that antisemitic incidents in France increased by 10 times from October through December. He stops and thinks: Is there a safer route to the synagogue, even if it’s a little longer?

Marc won’t take off his Star of David necklace. But before he leaves home, he stops to think whether he remembered to tuck it into his shirt. Why take the chance of having a total stranger yell at you that you’re a child killer?

Marc wonders what his acquaintances really think of him. He has been surprised to hear people accusing Israel of genocide, even in his presence, when they know he has family there and visits often. They don’t know his nephews and niece are in the IDF, and he would never mention that.

Spring break is coming up, and Marc stops and thinks about the decision to send his kids to university in France, not Israel. They have called several times to talk about their uneasiness when they hear calls for Israel’s destruction at the anti-Israel demonstrations on their campuses. His kids don’t fear for their safety, but they do worry for their people.

Only when he is in the company of other Jews at a Shabbat dinner, is he able to truly relax. He can let his guard down and not worry about any of the multiple ways antisemitism has permeated his life.

Marc stops and thinks about the article his friend recently sent. In December, the leaders of the Belgian Jewish community wrote an op-ed in a major Brussels paper, where they stated the choice before Europe’s Jews after October 7 was “between emigrating to Israel, a country without antisemitism but at war, or remaining in countries at peace but increasingly more hostile to Jews.” Not long ago, Marc read that immigration applications to Israel by French Jews were up 430%.

It is decision time for Marc. If he no longer stops to think, but decides to leave, that will signal the beginning of the end of mainstream Jewish life in Europe. The “medium” Jews like Marc make up the majority of those who affiliate with Jewish communities in Europe and sustain their institutions.

Many European leaders have said that Europe will not be Europe without its Jews. Now is the time for European governments to take decisive action against antisemitism to avoid that fate. They need to set a public tone of zero tolerance for antisemitism. They need to instruct police and prosecutors to enforce the laws. They need to take administrative actions available to them to ensure that Jews can live openly and freely as equal citizens.

Europe’s leaders need to stop and think, because after October 7, it’s decision time for Europe’s Jews.

Andrew Srulevitch is Director of European Affairs at the Anti-Defamation League.

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OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse

Samantha Kline, 22, presented photos of antisemitic graffiti she says targeted her.

The post OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases New Propaganda Video of Israeli Hostage

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in a propaganda video released by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Photo: Screenshot

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group on Tuesday released a short propaganda video featuring Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov, 28, who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

The 30-second undated video shows Trufanov, an Amazon employee, identifying himself and saying that he will soon discuss what has happened to him and other hostages in Gaza.

Similar videos have been released by terrorists groups in Gaza. Israel has lambasted them as psychological warfare.

Trufanov’s mother said in a video released by the family that she was happy to see her son after all this time, but “it was heartbreaking” that he had been a hostage for so long.

Trufanov was an engineer at the Israeli microelectronics company Annapurna Labs, which Amazon owns.

Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists abducted over 250 people during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Trufanov was kidnapped alongside his mother, grandmother, and girlfriend.

All three were released as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement negotiated in November. His father, Vitaly Trufanov, was one of the 1,200 people killed during the Hamas massacre.

“The proof of life from Alexsander (Sasha) Trufanov is additional evidence that the Israeli government must give a significant mandate to the negotiating team,” the Hostages Families Forum, which represents the families of the hostages, said in a statement.

More than 120 hostages remain in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. Islamic Jihad is a separate but allied terrorist organization in the Palestinian enclave. Both are backed by Iran, which provides them with money, weapons, and training.

Negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the US to reach a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza have been stalled for weeks.

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Gal Gadot’s Action Movie Nabs Second Place on Netflix List of Most Watched Films in Second Half of 2023

Gal Gadot as Rachel Stone in a scene from the trailer for “Heart of Stone.” Photo: YouTube screenshot

Netflix released its engagement report that details the films with the most views from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2023, and Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s action thriller Heart of Stone secured the number two spot with 109.6 million views.

The film — starring Gadot alongside Jamie Dornan and Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt in leading roles — was the runner-up to Leave the World Behind, the drama starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, and Ethan Hawke that garnered 121 million views on Netflix.

Heart of Stone, directed by Tom Harper, was released on the streaming giant on Aug. 11 of last year. The action film is about international intelligence operative Rachel Stone, played by Gadot, who goes on a mission to protect an artificial intelligence system, known as The Heart, from falling in the wrong hands. The film was produced by Pilot Wave, a company founded by Gadot and her husband Jaron Varsano.

Gadot also stars in Netflix’s most popular film of all time, Red Notice, alongside Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds.

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