Friday, November 21, 2003


France seems to be getting serious about the anti-Semitism occurring there. Finally.

Three years of attacks on Jewish targets in France finally came to a head this week with the arson attack on a Jewish school near Paris.

When fire-fighters were called to the Mercaz Hatorah school in the northern Parisian suburb of Gagny early Saturday morning, word about the arson reached the highest echelons of the French state.

The response from government leaders was that enough was finally enough.

"When a Jew is attacked in France, the whole of France is attacked," French President Jacques Chirac said.


France´s interior and education ministers quickly arrived at the site of the school fire, and Chirac summoned them and three senior colleagues to an emergency meeting on anti-Semitism at the Elysee Palace.

Within an hour of the meeting Monday, the government announced a get-tough policy to deal with perpetrators of anti-Semitic attacks. It also set up a Cabinet committee — to be chaired by Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin — to deal with the issue.

Among the first to be told of the policy changes was a delegation of French Jewish leaders, which met with Chirac shortly after the unusual mini-Cabinet session.

One of those attending, French Chief Rabbi Joseph Sitruk, told reporters outside the Elysee Palace that Chirac had given them everything they wanted even before they asked.

"The president has made a strong symbolic gesture which for us includes the most important thing, which is to make known that anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem but a French problem," Sitruk said.

UPDATE: The CSM has this.


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