As Israel mourns Paris victims, fears grow over anti-Semitism in France

The four French Jews buried Tuesday in Israel were killed last week in Paris by a Muslim extremist who was later shot dead by police. Thousands of security officials are guarding Jewish schools and other sites.

Baz Ratner/Reuters
The brother of Yoav Hattab, one of four French Jews killed in an attack on a Paris kosher grocery store last week, mourns during their funeral in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

The four Jewish hostages killed by an Islamic extremist in a kosher supermarket in Paris on Friday were buried today in Israel, where thousands of mourners turned out to honor them. 

An estimated 2,000 people attended the funeral at Har Menuhot cemetery in Jerusalem. “Shock and sorrow was palpable,” reports Agence France-Presse, “as family members and top Israeli officials stood to pay tribute to the four men who were shot dead”.

The four men buried – Yoav Hattab, Yohan Cohen, Philippe Braham, and Francois-Michel Saada – were among 17 people killed in and around Paris last week at the hands of jihadist radicals. The mayhem began with an assault on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday.

Friday’s attack at the kosher store sent shockwaves through France’s Jewish community, the third largest in the world, and raised concerns about anti-Semitism in Europe. In his eulogy, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he believed world leaders “at least are starting to understand that the terror of extreme Islam is a real threat.”

"Europe's leaders must firmly and actively restore the sense of security for the Jews of Europe," Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said in his own eulogy. "It should not be the case that in 2015, 70 years since the end of World War II, that Jews should be afraid to walk with a yarmulke on their heads and tzitzit under their clothes in the streets of Europe."

As The Christian Science Monitor’s Christa Case Bryant reports, last week’s attack was the latest in a long history of anti-Semitic acts in France.

Leaders of France’s Jewish community, by far the largest in Europe at about 550,000, say that is but the latest of more than 8,000 anti-Semitic acts since 2000. France’s Interior Ministry has calculated that anti-Semitic threats and incidents have doubled in the past year. Surveys indicate that such sentiments arise largely from the fringes, particularly far-right political parties and disgruntled French Muslims, many of whom see racism as a far bigger problem than anti-Semitism.

Marc Knobel of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) says that the government has firmly condemned anti-Semitism, but was lacking in resources.

“We can’t put a police officer behind each Jewish person, we can’t protect all the synagogues or Jewish schools 24 hours a day, or now if we have to also protect kosher grocery stores, I don’t [know] where things will go,” he says.

The Monitor reports that the Paris attacks have also rattled Jews in Israel, where Mr. Netanyahu has offered a warm welcome to any French Jews who wanted to emigrate there. About 7,000 French Jews immigrated to Israel last year, double the number in 2013. More were expected this year even before the attacks last week.

Click here to read The Monitor's full story from Monday about the Israel's response to the terrorist attacks in France.

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