Anti-Semitism is on the rise in France. The French Interior Ministry reports that instances of anti-Semitic violence increased by 74 percent in 2018.
Anti-Semitism has been increasing for some time in France. The rise corresponds to the increase of the Muslim population and its growing radicalization.
However, recent developments suggest that anti-Semitism is also percolating up from France’s native population.
The “Gilet Jaune” (“Yellow Vest”) movement is a mini-rebellion by La France Profonde (the “deep France” of its villages and traditional culture). Yellow Vest demonstrations took Paris by a storm and forced changes in government tax/environment policy.
Most of the demonstrators have gone home, but demonstrations and rioting persist. Many of those who engage in them are revealing themselves to be anti-Semites.
Yellow Vest protesters have been caught on camera making anti-Semitic gestures and taunting journalists for “working for the Jews.” This weekend, Yellow Vest protesters surrounded Alain Finkielkraut, a prominent Jewish conservative philosopher, as he was getting out of a taxi near his home in Paris. They called him a “dirty Zionist” and told him to “go back to Tel Aviv.”
It has been reported that elements of the far-left and far-right attached themselves to the Yellow Vest movement during its demonstrations last Fall. Earlier this month, fighting broke out between the factions during a demonstration in Lyon. Anti-Semitism within these two elements is not surprising.
To what extent is the mainstream of the Yellow Vest movement anti-Semitic? I don’t know.
In my opinion, for what it’s worth, any over-arching populist critique of capitalism has the potential to be anti-Semitic. In the popular imagination, Jews are “dirty capitalists,” par excellence. This, I think, helps explain why the British Labour Party and the American Democratic Party are flirting, or worse, with anti-Semitism, though clearly there is much more to it than that.
In any event, it’s worth keeping an eye on the possibility of widespread anti-Semitism in the Yellow Vest movement. Just one more thing for Jews and their friends to worry about.