By COLlive reporter
Thousands of French citizens participated in a public protest over the rise in anti-Semitic comments and incidents in the country in recent years.
France has the biggest Jewish community in Europe, about 550,000 people. The BBC reported that statistics published last week showed a rise of 74% in the number of anti-Semitic attacks in France, from 311 in 2017 to 541 in 2018.
The latest notable incidents were the vandalism of 80 Jewish cemetery tombstones and a memorial tree for a victim of anti-Semitism, as well as the French Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut shouted at and called a ‘dirty Zionist’.
In a swift stance, French President Emmanuel Macron visited the Jewish cemetery in eastern France where nearly 100 graves were desecrated with Nazi symbols and stated that “Whoever did this is not worthy of the French republic and will be punished.”
On Wednesday, Macron attended the annual dinner of the Council of Jewish Institutions in France, also known as the Crif. In his speech, he announced measures to combat the rise of anti-Semitism.
Most significantly, he said France will take steps to define “anti-Zionism as a modern-day form of anti-Semitism” in line with that advocated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, France24 reports.
During the evening, Macron was seen exchanging words with Rabbi Mendel Azimov, a Chabad Shliach and Director of Beth Loubavitch which oversees Chabad centers in Paris.
“I told the president that we are grateful for his words and that we are trusting him to make good on his promises,” Rabbi Azimov told COLlive.com.
Macron announces measures to combat anti-Semitism in France