The banners read: #ÇaSuffit, French for “Enough.”
That was the message thousands of protesters brought to the streets of Paris and dozens of other French cities this week, as they expressed disgust at the surge in anti-Semitic acts in their country. As if to underscore the urgency, hours before the planned marches began, swastikas were discovered on 100 tombstones in a Jewish cemetery in eastern France.
President Emmanuel Macron, as well as former presidents Nikolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, joined the protesters in Paris. As many as 14 French political parties, including Macron’s “La République En Marche,” the Greens, the Socialists and the Republicans, all co-endorsed the rallies.
The recent incidents have been coming at high speed. At a bagel bakery in Paris last week, vandals spray-painted “Juden” on the window. Swastikas were drawn on public mailboxes bearing portraits of the late Simone Veil, a Holocaust survivor and former French government minister. In another incident, members of the so-called “yellow vest” protest movement screamed anti-Jewish slurs at French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut on the street.
And as we went to press, word came of yet another act of tombstone desecration in a Jewish cemetery near Lyon.
Despite these appalling acts, it is impossible not to take heart from the sight of so many French citizens saying “no more” to the anti-Jewish fever plaguing their country in recent years.
We saw similar protests after the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket massacres in January 2015, which claimed more than a dozen lives, and after the horrific ISIS-inspired bombings and murders later that year at Parisian restaurants, a sports stadium and the Bataclan theater, which killed 130.
Government statistics show a 74 percent rise in the number of anti-Semitic attacks in France between 2017 and 2018.
In fairness, this sickening phenomenon is not limited to France. Germany, too, has shown an alarming rise in attacks, up 10 percent in the last year, and a 60 percent rise in physical attacks, according to German government data. Similar statistics can be found throughout Europe, and the United States is not immune either, as illustrated by the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue last November.
The solution will require a concerted global effort among government officials, faith leaders, media, schools and citizens of goodwill.
A protest march in Place de la Republique, in the center of Paris, won’t end anti-Semitism. Nor will it persuade bigots to change their attitudes. But declaring to the world “Ça suffit” in such large numbers, in such a public display of unity, is an excellent start.