March 21st, 2006 09:41 EST
The Jewish State of France
It has been a long standing policy of Israel`s to encourage Jews to immigrate there for reasons of religion and demography and has long been a haven and refuge for Jews that have been displaced or not welcome in their native lands.
Following World War II, the British withdrew from their mandate of Palestine, and the UN partitioned the area into Arab and Jewish states, an arrangement rejected by the Arabs. Subsequently, the Israelis defeated the Arabs in a series of wars without the elimination of deep tensions that still exist today between the two sides (http://www.cia.gov). "
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon urged French Jews to come to Israel. However, Sharon who has a well earned speaking reputation for blunt excess, cited France for their wild fondness of anti-Semitism " and urged Jews to leave with an ominous sense of urgency.
Move to Israel as soon as possible. I say that to Jews all around the world, but there, I think it`s a must and they have to move immediately, " said Sharon.
Clearly, Sharon hit a nerve in Paris. The French press, French lawmakers, and French Jewish leaders denounced his remarks. And the office of President Jacques Chirac said that Sharon was unwelcome in France until such time as an explanation is forthcoming ".
Never the less Sharon`s remarks were not all together unsubstantiated. France is home to more than 5 million Muslims and many of them are young jobless males as well as being typically alienated from French society as a whole and these, who tend to be reflexively pro-Palestinian, have been blamed for an escalation in anti-Semitic incidents.
In a Nation with a sad history of semiofficial anti-Semitism, the number of acts and treats against Jews so far this year is 510, compared with 593 last year, and the number of acts alone already tops last years. French leaders have ritually apologized for Vichy complicity with the Nazis; the countries ongoing Arabic influx has fueled the flames of religious tensions anew.
Currently, there are about 600,000 Jews in France. This makes the 3rd largest such community in the world after the United States and Israel. Without a doubt they are an essential part of France; in a word, they are French. And while it is reassuring that they are welcome in Israel, it is crucial for the New Europe that they feel equally at home in France.