Hate hoax damages French fight against anti-Semitism

paris | It took precisely 24 hours for demonstrations in solidarity with France’s Jewish community to turn into opprobrium against it.

The sudden change came July 13, when a 23-year-old non-Jewish woman who claimed she had been the victim of a violent anti-Semitic act admitted to police that she had staged the incident.

French Jews are now hoping the incident won’t do too much damage to the fight against anti-Semitism in France, which remains a real problem.

Given the massive surge in anti-Semitic incidents in France over the past six months, reports that the woman and her baby had been violently attacked on a Paris suburban train had sent shock waves through the political establishment and the country’s Jewish community.

Reports of the incident — and particularly the woman’s claim that it had occurred in full view of at least 20 witnesses who did nothing — drew swift condemnation, with President Jacques Chirac expressing his “horror.”

“I demand that everything should be done to find the perpetrators of this shameful act in order that they should be tried and sentenced with the severity required,” Chirac said in a statement.

Only hours before the woman told police she had been attacked, the government published figures showing that out of 230 racist attacks against persons or property in the first half of 2004, 135 were committed against Jewish targets.