In the suburbs of northern Paris, dozens of masked youth descended the streets of Sarcelles on Sunday, ransacking Jewish-owned businesses, targeting synagogues and setting fire to cars and bins and anything in between.
The Parisian suburb, known as “little Jerusalem,” has been the epicenter of anti-Israel protests, and the fate of its large Jewish population have become intertwined with the ongoing conflict in distant Gaza. Eighteen people were arrested following Sunday’s riots adding to the 30 arrested Saturday afternoon in Sarcelles when a similar outbreak injured 18 police officers. Following Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza last week, protesters have taken up arms in Paris where rallies against the offensive, banned earlier this month, have turned violent three times in the past week. Even more protests are planned in the upcoming days.
Antisemitism and support for Palestine are not intrinsically linked, but the current crisis in Gaza appears to be stoking the flames of anti-Jewish anger in Europe. While the rallies taking place in Paris and across the continent are organized in support of Palestine, the resulting violence is doing little to advance the cause of Palestinian statehood. “They are not screaming ‘death to the Israelis’ on the streets of Paris,” said Roger Cuikerman, president of Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France, an umbrella group of Jewish organizations. “They are screaming ‘death to the Jews.’”
In the city of Amersfoort, Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, a chief Dutch Rabbi, had his house attacked twice last week. “The fact that these attacks are recurrent shows the depth of hatred that exists against Jews,” Jacobs said. In Liège, Belgium, a Turkish shop owner displayed a sign in his window that read: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment, but Jews are not under any circumstances.”
Across Germany, protesters have been heard shouting, “Gas the Jews!”, a chilling reminder of the 6 million Jews murdered, many in gas chambers, during Germany’s Nazi regime. Outside the Israeli Embassy in Berlin, young demonstrators chanted, “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig — come out and fight alone” on multiple occasions. The German government banned the chant on Tuesday, the same day 500 pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched to the Brandenburg Gate, passing by Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial, with some among them yelling “Israel is murder” and “Israel bombs, Germany finances.” In three Germany cities — Hannover, Göttingen and Essen — there have been reports of protesters attacking pro-Israeli counter-demonstrations.
“Never in our lives did we believe it possible that anti-Semitism of the most primitive kind would be heard on the streets of Germany,” said Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
Nearly a third of European Jews surveyed last year say they have considered leaving their home countries because of the rise in antisemitism, but following the recent influx since the increasing violence between Israel and Palestine that number could be higher.
In Gaza itself, after a month of conflict beginning with the murder of three Israeli teens in early June, tensions between Israel forces and Hamas-controlled Palestine have escalated to deadly extremes. Since Israel’s ground invasion in Gaza, the death toll has risen rapidly with now more than 700 Palestinian deaths and the first fatalities of Israeli soldiers and civilians seen since the start of the conflict.