News / Europe

    France Denounces Anti-Semitism, Braces for More Gaza Protests

    Pro-Palestinian protesters face police during a demonstration against violence in the Gaza strip, which had been banned by police in Paris, July 19, 2014.
    Pro-Palestinian protesters face police during a demonstration against violence in the Gaza strip, which had been banned by police in Paris, July 19, 2014.
    Lisa Bryant

    The foreign ministers of France, Germany and Italy denounced Tuesday rising anti-Semitism in their countries, where thousands have protested in recent days against Israel's strikes in Gaza.

    The fallout has been significant in France, which is home to Europe's largest Muslim and Jewish communities.

    Like elsewhere in Europe, French have taken to the streets in recent days to demonstrate against Israel's deadly offensive in Gaza that has killed more than 600 people.

    Most of the demonstrations have been largely peaceful, but in the Paris area, where protesters defied government bans against the rallies,  they have taken a violent turn. Youths have attacked synagogues and Jewish businesses.

    Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions President Roger Cukierman said French Jews are anguished and fearful.

    "We have had eight synagogues attacked, we have had shops being aggressed, mezuzot [small religious scrolls] being torn out. We have heard crowds shouting death to the Jews, not death to Israel, although they pretend to demonstrate in favor of Hamas and Palestinians and against the state of Israel," said Cukierman.

    French political and religious authorities have strongly denounced the violence. France hosts about half a million Jews and 5 million Muslims. The majority of both communities have roots in North Africa, so violence in the Middle East resonates strongly here.

    Late Monday, religious leaders gathered for an interfaith service in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, a day after vandals attacked Jewish businesses and a synagogue there.

    French Council of the Muslim Faith head Dalil Boubakeur, who attended the ceremony, said the vast majority of French Muslims are not anti-Semitic. How could they be, he told French radio, when they themselves are battling racism?

    Beyond events in the Middle East, France remains haunted by its World War II past. The Vichy regime of occupied France deported thousands of Jews to Nazi concentration camps.

    Just a few days ago, the country marked the so-called "raid of Vel d'Hiv," when more than 8,000 French Jews were rounded up around Paris in 1942 and deported.

    France's leftist government has called for zero tolerance against anti-Semitism. Attending a Vel d'Hiv ceremony in Paris, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the entire country must take up the fight against anti-Semitism.

    But recent government bans against the Gaza protests have backfired. The protests took place anyway. So did the violence. More demonstrations are expected this week, and the Jewish community and French authorities are bracing for more violence.

    Israel Offensive Continues Amid Calls by Protesters Worldwide to Stopi
    X
    Mariama Diallo
    July 23, 2014 12:49 AM
    Israel's military action in Gaza has led to protests in many countries, where demonstrators have expressed outrage over the civilian casualties and called for an end to the Israeli offensive. The protests are a sign of mounting pressure against Israel despite its position that the military action is necessary to stop Hamas' cross-border rocket attacks. More from VOA's Mariama Diallo.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: anna_K from: helsinki
    July 23, 2014 5:42 PM
    This is absurd - what Israel is doing is Manslaughter - killing civilians by mistake while targeting Hamas. What Hamas is trying daily with their missiles is ATTEMPTED MURDER. So suddenly Attempted Murder is fine just because Israelis are able to defend themselves? Why has Hamas spent ALL THE MONEY they received from Syria and Iran on building missiles instead of building bomb shelters for their civilians like Israel did? I know they have less money but every single penny went for aggression and none to save lives. Hamas is murdering its own people and they have no right to say anything. Yes, it is terrible that civilians are dying. Horrible that kids are being killed - but the key perpetrator is Hamas not Israel.

    by: SAS from: Pittsburgh
    July 23, 2014 7:34 AM
    People have the right and the responsibility to condemn Israel's actions and support the rights of the Palestinian people.

    Labelling criticism of the war criminal Israeli regime as ``anti Semitic'' may have worked in silencing dissent in the past, but it will not work any more.
    In Response

    by: anna_K from: helsinki
    July 23, 2014 5:31 PM
    Umm, excuse me but how is 'Kill the Jews' the same as criticism against Israel? They were chanting against local Jews! And that is like Americans attacking Muslims who are living in the US when terrorists from abroad bomb them. It is very wrong.
    In Response

    by: David from: Canada
    July 23, 2014 2:58 PM
    How's that? Israel has very right and responsibility to DEFEND itself against the Islamo-Nazi terrorist attacks. I sincerely hope they kill every member of Hamas and as far as these idiots in Paris, I would round up these losers and criminals and deport their asses to their country of origin - hopefully Iraq.

    by: moritz katz from: Germany
    July 22, 2014 12:43 PM
    One can criticize people from every nation except Israel and when one is labeled anti Semitic... Another double standard reserved for Jews only! Perhaps this is one of the root causes. Certainly they are currently doing nothing to endear Israel to anyone.
    In Response

    by: jose saez from: france lyon
    July 23, 2014 12:51 AM
    I am afraid that this is no more just a question of words to be or not considered as antisemitism.
    This is now about Violence between peoples , materials destructions of a Jewish bakery and in front of a sinago.
    In a place in France used to know for melting french natives peoples either Jewishes or muslims .
    The sad is that they we're once neighbours or students at the same schools.
    I don't agreed with current israel options in Gaza . But I also wish Hamas and people who helps them would build bunkers for civilians protection instead of tunnels ..
    The events in France are caused by despaired people young unemployed most of time, In reaction to the growings inequalities of a society that has forgotten lessons or history because too busy with consumering and non stop distractions aand informations .

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.