Sophie is in shock. She has just received a message from the school telling her that her 6-year-old son’s swimming trip was canceled for safety reasons. “Do you realize that in the France of 2023, my son could be a target because he is Jewish? » remarks this practicing Jewish mother, herself a teacher in Villeurbanne, near Lyon (Rhône). “I was first French and then Jewish. Now I feel firstly Jewish and then French,” she confides. And for the first time in her life, Sophie is afraid.
Like her, many Jews in Villeurbanne and elsewhere are worried about the sharp increase in acts since the outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel on October 7. In one month, the Ministry of the Interior recorded 1,159 anti-Semitic acts, triple the number recorded in 2022. As a precaution, some Jews remove their yarmulkes, give a very French surname when they reserve a taxi or cancel registration. of their children to Jewish scout activities.
Strengthened measures to protect the Jewish community
Even Daniel Dahan, chief rabbi of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, takes precautions on the advice of the Jewish Community Protection Service, created in 1980 after the attack on the synagogue on rue Copernic in Paris, which killed four people. “We are more careful, we have no choice. The region has 35,000 Jews, including 25,000 in Villeurbanne; the places where they are concentrated must be secured. I have never seen such an explosion of hatred towards Jews. This is not just a reaction from the Arab-Muslim world. The old anti-Judaism is also reawakening. What is happening today takes us back to the dark years of the Shoah. »
Lionel, one of the leaders of a Jewish school in Villeurbanne, is absorbed by questions of the establishment’s security. Fifteen to twenty soldiers patrol when students enter and leave, around forty volunteers take turns all day around the school and parents ensure the flow of traffic in the street.
On November 9, Laurent Wauquiez, president of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regional council, announced the establishment of a new alert system in a dozen educational establishments. “At our place, twenty people will carry with them a call button directly linked to the police,” explains Lionel. Despite this important system, parents are asking for more security measures.
Here as everywhere, fear is obviously fueled by social networks, but reinforced in Villeurbanne by the memory of a painful past. It was in front of this faith-based school in the city that a bomb exploded as the students were leaving in 1995. Colette, a retired French teacher, has not forgotten. “Parents were injured, but children were spared because the faulty bell did not ring on time. We narrowly avoided carnage. » Just after this attack committed by Khaled Kelkal, the State set up the Vigipirate system. Since January 2006, eleven Jews have been killed in France because they were Jewish.
Between anger and astonishment
Laure Hannoun, originally from Toulouse, cannot forget March 19, 2012 when, in a Jewish school in the Pink City, Mohammed Merah killed four people in cold blood, including three children aged 3, 6 and 8. A turning point for many French Jews. “It’s the first time that I felt trauma in my flesh as a Jew,” explains this resident of Villeurbanne. Killing a child because he is Jewish, the Nazis did it and that is what Muslim extremists are doing today. Hamas terrorists put a baby in an oven. How can we act in this way? »
In the eyes of this practicing Jew, “it is impossible to call yourself a believer and kill with such violence and with such enjoyment”, that which the members of Hamas show in the videos they have produced and broadcast. When she discovered this tragedy, Laure felt angry. She wondered how she could empathize with the Palestinians killed by Israeli bombings in Gaza.
She hopes that the two peoples will be able to come together around a table with a view to making peace. “I hope that God will put the right people on the right roads,” she says. Her housekeeper, a Muslim, knocks on the door. She has worked at Laure for years. “We have a relationship of trust. It is easier for me to talk with her who is a believer than with my secular brother! »
Anti-Semitism: more than 1,500 acts recorded in France since the Hamas offensive against Israel
A total of 1,518 anti-Semitic acts and remarks have been recorded in France since the Hamas offensive against Israel on October 7. This figure is more than three times higher than the number of anti-Semitic acts or remarks recorded (436) over the whole of 2022.
Source: Ministry of the Interior.