February 22, 2024

Tens of thousands marched in Paris against the rise in antisemitic acts since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas. Similar marches took place in Strasbourg, Lyon, and Nice.

Heading the Paris cortege were President of the French Senate Gérard Larcher and President of the French National Assembly Yaël Braun-Pivet, accompanied by French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, many cabinet ministers, and dozens of parliamentarians. President Emmanuel Macron decided not to participate, but published an open letter to citizens encouraging them to march.

Hundreds of mayors and members of municipal councils across the country, all wearing the traditional blue-white-red ribbon of French elected officials, also participated. Several of them told the Jerusalem Post they are the ones on the frontline against antisemitic incidents.

Also, many of those marching in Paris were not Jews, but concerned French citizens, condemning the spike in antisemitism. Among them, were members of the famous ‘’Cirque du Soleil’’ who came as a group, calling for antisemitism in France to stop.

Starting at the Esplanade des Invalides, people marched quietly for almost three hours, across the Latin quarter to the Luxembourg Palace of the Senate. Every few minutes, silence was broken by a singing o the French national anthem the Marseillaise, followed by long-minutes applauding. Others chanted slogans such as ‘’No, no, no to anti-Semitism, yes, yes, yes, to our Republic!’’

(credit: RINA BASSIST)

Response to the march

The initiative of the march generated great division in French society. France Unbowed party members rallied by a monument in the south of Paris commemorating the 1942 Vel d’Hiv roundup of Jews, but local French Jews came to the venue, demonstrating against what they called ‘’exploitation of the Holocaust’’ by the French extreme left.

Other far-left politicians, including Communist party head Fabien Roussel, did join the Paris march, with participants booing them and calling them to leave. Also booed were leaders of the French far-right. President of the far-right National Rally parliament faction Marine Le Pen arrived at the march, as did the president of her party Jordan Bardella, and far-right politicians Eric Zemour and Marion Marechal.

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Mayor of Epinay-Sur-Seine Hervé Chevreau arrived at the march in Paris with several members of his municipality.

‘’As elected of the Republic it is our duty to fight against all those who attack the Jewish community, in our town and across France,’’ he told The Jerusalem Post.

‘’Our town is twined with Mevaseret Ziyon, so of course my place is here today, together with many other French mayors. We have in our town a large Jewish community, with several Jewish schools, synagogues, and a rabbinical seminar. In our town, we didn’t have many antisemitic incidents, but we must all work hard so that none of this happens, not where we live, nor in any other French town,’’ he noted.

Frederique and Elisa Versum, Jewish mother and daughter, took part in the march. ‘’We are here to demonstrate against antisemitism, which has risen tremendously in France since Oct. 7,’’ Frederique told The Jerusalem Post. ‘’We are worried. We feel there are no longer any social/ethical barriers. All is permitted.’’

Elisa, a student at the Paris Sorbonne University, agrees. ‘’I often use public transportation, and now I’m afraid. We are all hiding our religious signs. We are careful all the time. We watch our backs. I hide my Star of David necklace, especially when I’m at university. My grandparents removed the mezuzah from their door. I am so sad. All this must stop,’’ she says.