Europe

Israeli PM slams 'shocking' anti-Semitic vandalism in France

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday slammed the "shocking" anti-Semitic vandalism of a French cemetery, which prompted a cabinet colleague to urge French Jews to "come home" to Israel.

"Today something shocking happened in France. Eighty Jewish graves were desecrated with Nazi symbols by wild anti-Semites," Netanyahu said in a video clip released by his office.

"I call on the leaders of France and Europe to take a strong stand against anti-Semitism. It is a plague that endangers everyone, not just us," he said.

The graves were daubed with swastikas at a Jewish cemetery in the village of Quatzenheim, close to the border with Germany in the Alsace region.

French President Emmanuel Macron lays a white rose on a grave vandalised with swastikas.
French President Emmanuel Macron lays a white rose on a grave vandalised with swastikas.
AFP

Photos show the Nazi symbols in blue spray-painted on the damaged graves, one of which bears the words "Elsassisches Schwarzen Wolfe" ("Black Alsatian Wolves"), a separatist group with links to neo-Nazis in the 1970s.

Immigration Minister Yoav Gallant said the vandalism "conjures images of dark times in the history of the Jewish people."

"Last week I visited the Jewish community in Paris, which is under an anti-Semitic attack and in the process of assimilation."

"I firmly condemn the anti-Semitism in France and call on the Jews -- come home, immigrate to Israel," Gallant said in a statement.

The chairman of the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency, which also deals with Jewish immigration to Israel, called the vandalism "another indication of the rampant anti-Semitism spreading throughout Europe, threatening Jews in the streets."

"It's time for governments to wake up!" Isaac Herzog wrote on Twitter.

Rallies are taking place Paris and other French cities Tuesday to denounce a flare-up of anti-Semitic vandalism in recent weeks, often coinciding with "yellow vest" anti-government demonstrations.

The cemetery was vandalised just hours before the march against anti-Semitism started.
The cemetery was vandalised just hours before the march against anti-Semitism started.
AFP

Politicians on both the right and left urged massive participation after a prominent French writer was the target of an anti-Semitic tirade by a protester in Paris on Saturday.

Last year, 2,679 Jews from France immigrated to Israel, according to Gallant's ministry.

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