New York, NY, June 5, 2012 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed alarm at the recent rise of violent anti-Semitic attacks in France, welcomed the condemnation by the French Prime Minister and Interior Minister of a recent attack on Jews near Lyon, and urged the French President to lead the fight against these hate crimes and prevent a reversal of the progress made in France since 2004.
According to reports, ten young men attacked three Jews who were wearing kippot on their way to a synagogue in Villeurbanne, a suburb of Lyon. The attackers yelled, "Dirty Jews! If we see you again, you're dead!" and hit them with hammers and iron bars. Two victims suffered head and neck injuries.
"We are alarmed by the recent increase in violent incidents against Jews in France, including the most recent attack in Villeurbanne," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "We welcome the immediate condemnation of the attack by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who called for 'harsh measures' and 'education for tolerance,' and the announcement by Interior Minister Manuel Valls that all local police resources will be mobilized to apprehend the attackers and bring them to justice. These are the right first steps to fulfill their pledges to fight anti-Semitism."
Mr. Foxman added, "French officials have consistently and rightfully said that such attacks are attacks against the Republic of France itself. Those who would harm Jews must also be made to understand that the safety and civil rights of the French Jewish community are of highest priority to the President. We look forward to President François Hollande's leadership to prevent a resurgence of these violent hate crimes and to further diminish them."
In a letter to President François Hollande, ADL urged him to continue the progress France has made in reducing anti-Semitic incidents from almost 1,000 in 2004 to less than 400 in 2011 and to prevent a possible reversal that is evidenced by the recent rise in violent incidents.
An ADL opinion poll of anti-Semitic attitudes in Europe released this February found that the overall level of anti-Semitism increased to 24 percent of the population, up from 20 percent in 2009. The poll also found that 45 percent of respondents in France attributed the violence against European Jews to anti-Jewish feelings, as opposed to anti-Israel sentiment, an increase from 39 percent in 2009.