Before moving to France, I thought I was prepared for the antisemitism I heard about in the news. Like most French Jews, I never wear a Magen David necklace, and my husband and I do not have a mezuzah on our door. The first time I went to a kosher grocery, I scanned for exits lest there be an active shooter.
What I was not prepared for is what has transpired in the past few weeks in my neighborhood.
On Sunday, Oct. 30, I was walking in my neighborhood in southwest Paris and saw two blue Stars of David stenciled on the wall of a school. Using a badge to identify Jews was introduced by the Islamic Caliphate to identify Jews in predominantly Muslim countries. It was later adopted in Europe in the Middle Ages. Most are familiar with Nazi Germany requiring Jews to wear a Star of David on their clothing to signify their Judaism.
Despite the antisemitic history of such markings, I ignored it and kept walking, with cautious optimism, that unruly teenagers did this.
The next day, I saw two more stars on my way home from the grocery store. I kept walking again, hoping the same unruly teens were at it again.
Then, Le Parisien reported that Star of David graffiti was in Saint-Ouen, Aubervilliers, and Saint-Denis…all areas far from my leafy neighborhood near the Seine.
At dinner that night, my husband said, “Cheri, did you see the Stars of David near the bakery?” I was confident there could not be a third set. But it turns out there were. But the graffiti is the tip of the iceberg.
A week ago,15,000 pro-Hamas demonstrators gathered on the Place de La République, demonstrating fealty to Hamas, a recognized terror group.
A video on social media shows a group of young men on Metro Line 3 chanting vile antisemitic statements, and the woman recording responds with nervous laughter.
The police caught the suspects, and our city cleaned up the graffiti, so there are no more Stars of David on buildings.
But, for many of France’s Jews, including myself, a sense of unease remains, and I don’t know when it will go away.