European Jewish Congress
Jerusalem Post: In today's Europe, Jews are a target like everyone else
EJC in the Media
Jerusalem Post: In today's Europe, Jews are a target like everyone else

The deadly terrorist attack on the Hyper Cacher kosher grocery store in Paris in 2015 was a turning point for the Jewish communities of France and its neighbors throughout Europe.

Combined with the attack on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters that same month, the Hyper Cacher attack marked the beginning of France’s Operation Sentinelle – a massive national military operation that led to the deployment of 10,000 soldiers and 4,700 police and gendarmes to protect civilians and sensitive sites.

“On the Sunday morning [following the attacks], President François Hollande met with all the leaders of the Jewish communities and declared that he was putting out 10,000 soldiers to protect every single building of the Jewish community, and from that day... every school, synagogue and JCC was protected,” Robert Ejnes, executive director of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

“From that day, we lived under the security of the state,” he said.

In 2016, following a string of Islamist attacks, the French government increased the mobility of its security operation in order to reach more sites.

Today security personnel make rounds between Jewish schools and synagogues as opposed to being permanently stationed in front of them. And recently, the French government announced that it wanted to make the forces even more mobile.

“We had to respect that decision,” Ejnes said. “It’s the role of the government to protect all its citizens.”

The French government’s decision to deploy soldiers in a more flexible way reflects the shift in potential targets over the past couple of years. Whereas Jews were once seen as the primary target, today everyone is seen as vulnerable.

Ejnes said that the changing trend in French immigration to Israel mirrors this shift.

After the shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012, there was an uptick of Jews leaving France to live in Israel.

“We saw the numbers grow because Jews in France felt that they were not secure anymore and that they were becoming special targets. There was a rise in antisemitic incidents and Jews felt like primary targets,” he explained.

Indeed, in 2015, French aliya reached a record 8,000 immigrants.

But in 2016, it fell to 5,000.

“We think this is due to the generalization of the attacks,” Ejnes said. “Jews began to feel like they were targets like everybody else and not the primary target.”

He added, however, that he still believed that the Jewish community was a main target and needed to pay extra attention to its security.

A security expert from the European Jewish Congress, who withheld his name, echoed this sentiment. “Today the aim of the attackers is to make as much damage as possible without checking who the people are,” he said, pointing to the recent terrorist attack on Barcelona’s bustling Las Ramblas boulevard.

“They look for easy targets,” he added. “Today, they [terrorists] are against the general community... their aim is to see a Muslim Europe.”

“If the Jews used to be a defined target, today the enemy treats them as a citizen like everyone else. Today if a Jew, Muslim or Christian walks in the street, they can get hit in the same way. Everyone is a target.” 

Click here to read the full article in Jerusalem Post

Monday, August 28, 2017
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