[bold] It's coming from three very different sources. And it's extremely hard to combat online. [/bold]
In the first weeks of 2019, French authorities discovered 96 tombs desecrated in a Jewish cemetery in eastern France, the word “juden” scrawled across a bagel shop in Paris, and swastikas marring a street portrait of former government official and Auschwitz survivor, Simone Veil. On February 16 in Paris, a group of protestors in the Yellow Vest (“gilets jaunes”) movement cornered local Jewish intellectual, Alain Finkielkraut. “Dirty Zionist, you’re going to die!” they yelled, along with “Go home to Israel!” and “France is ours!”
Last year, France saw a 74 percent jump in anti-Semitic incidents. A survey from the European Union, released in December, found that a staggering 95 percent of French Jews saw anti-Semitism as either a fairly significant or a very big problem (more than any other country in the E.U.).
Within days of the Finkielkraut harassment, President Emmanuel Macron proposed a controversial new strategy to fight anti-Semitism, including broadening its legal definition, dissolving several far-right groups, and putting his support behind a law that would punish online hate speech with fines of up to several million euros.
France has the largest Jewish population in Europe and the third largest in the world. Anti-Semitism in the country springs not only from fringe online groups but also from a long history of Jewish persecution and a contemporary anti-establishment surge. [bold]Today, Jewish historians and advocacy groups say, the far-left, the far-right, and radical Muslims—groups with few shared interests, historically—are finding common ground in anti-Semitism[/bold] and the gilets jaunes. And as they do so, the language of anti-Semitism is shifting, making it particularly hard to track and filter as new laws would demand.
“It’s old wine in new bottles,” said Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of Jewish history who famously won a legal battle against Holocaust denial in the 1990s. “It’s the same anti-Semitism but it morphs into different forms, different expressions, different manifestations.” /1