ADL Urges France to Protect Jewish Community in Wake of Horrific Anti-Semitic Attack
Note: An investigation has shown that this was not an anti-Semitic attack, but was carried out by a disgruntled former volunteer at the center who happened to be Jewish. The suspect, whom police described as "mentally unstable," was arrested on August 30.
New York, NY, August 23, 2004 … In the aftermath of the arson of a Jewish community center in Paris – the latest in a series of disturbing anti-Semitic attacks in France – the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) urged the French government to take steps to ensure the safety of Jews and Jewish institutions.
"Extremists appear to be emboldened by the spate of violent attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions in France over the past three years, and continue to feel free to carry out these attacks with little fear of punishment," Barbara B. Balser, ADL National Chair and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, wrote in a letter to President Jacques Chirac. The League's letter urged the French government to devote more resources to the investigation of the crimes and to consider harsher criminal penalties for bias crimes.
"We appreciate your public statements condemning anti-Semitism and those by key ministers in your government. We also recognize the law enforcement initiatives to protect the Jewish community and efforts to promote tolerance in the education system. However, there have been far too few arrests and criminal prosecutions of the perpetrators of these heinous attacks," ADL's letter stated.
Swastikas and similar anti-Semitic graffiti were discovered on the walls of the Rue Popincourt Jewish Community Center in the 11th District of Paris, which sustained considerable damage in the August 22 fire. The arson was the latest in a series of escalating anti-Semitic attacks in France, including several attacks attributed to French and German neo-Nazi groups.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.