Jewish graves vandalized in France as government vows tough response to rising anti-Semitism
The vandalized graves were discovered early Tuesday morning in the village of Quatzenheim near France’s eastern border. Dozens of tombstones had been spray-painted with swastikas while others were knocked over and destroyed.
One grave had the words “Elsassisches Schwarzen Wolfe” written across it, a possible reference to a far-right German-nationalist group from the 1970s linked to multiple terrorists attacks.
Authorities “strongly condemned” the “hideous anti-Semitic act,” while the Strasbourg public prosecutor’s office opened an investigation.
While it is far from the first incident of a Jewish cemetery being defiled with Nazi insignia, the extent of the damage and timing has incited widespread outrage.
French President Emmanuel Macron personally went to the site of the crime, repeating his mantra that anti-Semitism represents “the negation of France.”
“We shall act, we shall pass laws, we shall punish,” Macron told Jewish leaders while surveying the destruction. Although the French president himself will not attend the rallies, he plans to visit a Holocaust memorial later in the day.
Other high profile figures, however, including former French presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, will be among the thousands expected to participate in demonstrations. The events were organized in reaction to an anti-Semitic vandalism spree which took place last week, alongside the release of data by French authorities which indicated a 74% spike in anti-Jewish incidents in 2018.
(Anti-Semitic acts identified in Police reports in Germany and France.)
Though Macron has mostly steered clear of pointing the finger at any specific group or organization, many have blamed the Yellow Vest movement for inspiring and participating in rising hatred. Such accusations increased after a recording emerged of demonstrators calling French intellectual Alain Finkielkraut a “dirty zionist” during last Saturday’s Yellow Vest march.Also on rt.com ‘Anti-Semitism spreading like poison’: France stained by weekend of vandalism & year of hate crimes
While politicians in the US demanded an apology after Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s critique of the Zionist lobby was dubbed anti-Semitic, French MPs are gearing up to take more drastic measures.
Several lawmakers are now proposing an initiative to have all anti-Zionism recognized and punished as a form of anti-Semitism.
“It is crucial to say that what is forbidden is to deny the existence of Israel. That has to be made a criminal offence,” Sylvain Maillard, an MP from Macron’s political party, told Radio France Internationale.
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