One of France’s leading political scientists bluntly asserted on Tuesday that rising antisemitism meant that the country’s Jews “do not lead the same existence” as their fellow citizens.
“We do not lead the same life when we are not Jewish,” Prof. Dominique Reynié — who teaches at the prestigious Institute for Political Studies (Sciences Po) in Paris — told national broadcaster RTL in an interview on Tuesday.
Reynié was commenting on a new study published on Tuesday which revealed that three-quarters of the French population — Jews and non-Jews alike — recognized that antisemitism was “a problem that affects of all of society.”
The survey — conducted by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Foundation for Political Innovation, a liberal political think tank based in Paris — showed that 67 percent of Jewish respondents felt that there were high levels of antisemitism in France, compared with 47 percent of the general population who felt the same.
The survey polled 505 Jews and 1,027 non-Jews on their perceptions and experiences of antisemitism in France. Statistics released in Feb. 2019 showed that antisemitic incidents had risen 74 percent on the previous year.
In a statement accompanying the survey’s release, the AJC remarked that the extent of the attacks against the 500,000-strong Jewish community in France — the largest in Europe — was “stunning.”
It found that “70 percent of French Jews say they have been victims of at least one antisemitic incident in their lifetime, 64 percent have suffered antisemitic verbal abuse at least once.”
A further “23 percent have been targets of physical violence on at least one occasion, with 10 percent saying they were attacked several times.”
As a result, French Jews were increasingly wary of disclosing their identities in public.
“More than one-third, 37 percent, refrain from using visible Jewish symbols, 25 percent avoid revealing their Jewish identity in the workplace, and 52 percent have considered leaving France,” the study noted.
The roughest edge of French antisemitism was being experienced by the community’s youth, the poll found.
“The youngest Jews, ages 18-24, are on the ‘front line’ more than older cohorts in confronting antisemitism,” the survey observed. “84 percent of them have suffered at last one antisemitic act, compared with 70 percent of all respondents; 79 percent had suffered verbal abuse, compared with 64 percent of all respondents, and 39 percent faced an act of physical aggression, compared with 23 percent of the full Jewish sample.”
The workplace has also become a focus of concern for French Jews. A full 46 percent had experienced verbal antisemitic abuse while at work — a statistic the AJC called “disturbing.”
Prof. Reynié commented during his television interview that he had recently met a 22-year-old Jewish woman who told him that the previous weekend, her father had spent two hours cleaning off antisemitic graffiti that had been sprayed on the landing outside the family’s apartment.
“I’m not Jewish, I’m not confronted with that at all,” Reynié reflected. “We don’t have the same life at all.”