Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Debate among Marseille's Jews over whether they should stop wearing yarmulkes in the interest of their own safety

As reported by Itamar Eichner and Rachel Cadars of Ynet News, January 12, 2016:

Jews across Europe are taking off their yarmulkes and prayer shawls and hiding their Star of David necklaces as the fear of anti-Semitic violence continues to grow across the continent, Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.

At the same time, Zvi Ammar, the head of Marseille's Jewish community, has called on the city's Jewish residents to stop wearing yarmulkes in the wake of an attack on a Jewish teacher on Monday morning.

Benjamin Amsalem, an ultra-Orthodox resident of the southern French city, was attacked with a machete by a 15-year-old Turkish citizen of Kurdish origin, who was caught after a brief chase.

In his interrogation the stabber said that he had attacked Amsalem in the name of Islamic State and that he was also planning to attack police.

"The stream of events means that we need to take exceptional decision," Ammar said. "Life is more sacred than anything else. We need to hide a little."

The head of the Department for Combating Anti-Semism in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gideon Bachar, said: "There is a sense of growing fear and worry among Europe's Jews.

"Many Jews feel that their Jewish identity is a threat to them. We know that many have stopped going to synagogue on holy days for fear of terror attacks. To our regret, Jewish life is taking place more and more behind walls, armed guards, police and security cameras."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on European governments to increase the level of security for Jewish communities and institutions throughout the continent, including synagogues, community centers, schools and kindergartens.

The rise in aliyah from Europe to Israel is also testament to the growing impact of anti-Semitism on European Jews. Aliyah has also grown from countries such as Canada, the US and Australia. "We are seeing a lot of Jews leaving France making aliyah, or leaving France and Europe. The numbers are not huge but there is a clear phenomenon," Bachar said.

Meanwhile, police in France are investigating the murder of Jewish politician Alain Ghozlan, who was found dead in his home on the outskirts of Paris on Tuesday morning, was motivated by anti-Semitism.

Ghozlan, a prominent figure in the French Jewish community and a resident of Créteil – a predominantly Jewish suburb of the French capital – failed to show up to his synagogue on Monday evening or Tuesday morning, arousing his brother's suspicions.

Arriving at Ghozlan's apartment, his brother found the body, which showed signs of violence. The initial indication is that Ghozlan was beaten to death.

Ghozlan's credit cards and car had disappeared, but according to local media the French police have not rejected any line of enquiry and are investigating possibilities from robbery to anti-Semitism.

Ghozlan was a member of the Créteil local council as well as of the local Jewish community.

The police are also investigating the possibility of anti-Semitism due to the current rise in such incidents in France.
As reported by Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 12, 2016:

Representatives of the Jewish community of Marseille issued conflicting statements on whether Jews should hide their kippah in the southern French city following a spate of anti-Semitic stabbings there.

Tzvi Amar, president of the local office of the Consistoire, the French Jewish community’s organization responsible for religious services, was quoted Tuesday by Le Figaro as saying Jews should “remove the kippah during these troubled times” because “the preservation of life is sacrosanct.”

But Michele Teboul, president of the local branch of CRIF – an umbrella group that represents French Jewish communities politically as a lobby – told JTA that she “could not support a measure which dials back hundreds of years during which Jews were able to practice their faiths and live freely as citizens of the French Republic.”

Jewish individuals “should decide whether to wear a hat on top of their kippah, depending on the situation, but removing one’s kippah seems unwarranted,” Teboul said.

France’s chief rabbi, Haim Korsia, also rejected Amar’s call, saying, “We should not give an inch, we should continue wearing the kippah.”

Amar’s statement, which he said “turns his stomach” and is born of “grave circumstances that require extraordinary measures,” came after the stabbing of a Jewish man in Marseille on Tuesday, allegedly by a 15-year-old Muslim radical. He sustained minor injuries.

In November, a Jewish teacher was stabbed and seriously injured in Marseille by a man who hurled insults at him along with two other men, one of whom was wearing a T-shirt with the logo of the Islamic State terrorist group. The previous month, also in the city, a Frenchman of Algerian descent stabbed a Jewish man who was returning from synagogue and assaulted two others, including a rabbi.

Marseille has 80,000 Jews in a total population of approximately 850,000. About a third of its residents are Muslim, according to estimates.
Click the link to see the original article in Le Figaro, January 12, 2016.

January 30, 2016 update: A survey conducted in France shows that most French oppose the idea of Jews removing their yarmulkes. As reported by Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 18, 2016:

PARIS (JTA) — Seventy percent of French citizens said it would be giving in to terrorists if Jews were forced to remove their yarmulkes for security reasons, according to a survey.

The survey commissioned by the Paris Match weekly news magazine and published Friday was conducted Jan. 14-15 following one community leader’s call to Jews in Marseille not to wear their kippahs. The statement came in the aftermath of the stabbing of a Jewish man there earlier in the week — the third stabbing of a kippah-clad Jew in the southern port city since October.

In the survey of 1,011 adults conducted by the Odoxa polling company, 36 percent of respondents said they “absolutely agreed” with the assertion by French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia, who called on French Jews to keep wearing yarmulkes “to not give in to the terrorists.” Another 34 percent indicated they “pretty much agree.”
Ten percent of respondents, who were pre-selected to represent French society’s voting pattern distribution, said they “totally disagree” and another 19 percent said they “rather disagree.”

Left-wing and right-wing respondents answered similarly in the poll, with 71 percent supporting the assertion on the right — including 66 percent within the far-right National Front party — and 76 percent approving on the left.

Tzvi Amar, the president of the Marseille office of the Consistoire — the communal organization responsible for providing religious services — had called on his city’s Jews to hide traditional head coverings following the Jan. 11 stabbing.

Other community representatives joined Korsia in rejecting the suggestion.
Click on the link to see the original Paris Match article Port de la kippa: 70% des Français approuvent in French.

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