Last weekend’s killings in Brussels are an extreme example of a rising anti-semitism driving thousands to Israel, Britain and America
Bojan Pancevski, Brussels; and Inna Lazareva, Tel Aviv Published: 1 June 2014
Delphine Ankaua says she moved to Israel to escape anti-semitism Delphine Ankaua says she moved to Israel to escape anti-semitism (Gil Yohanan)
DELPHINE ANKAOUA never dreamt she would feel compelled to leave her chic home in the leafy Neuilly-sur-Seine suburb of Paris.
But when her neighbours of 10 years asked Ankaoua to remove the mezuzah, a small box containing a piece of Jewish religious text, from the front door of her flat, she and her family decided it was time to leave the country — and move to Israel.
“We were absolutely shocked,” said Ankaoua, 39, who had long encouraged her sons to wear baseball caps over their kippas (skull caps) to disguise their origins. “We tried phoning organisation who help Jews combat anti-semitism, and they told us just to take off the mezuzah.”
Any doubts about her decision were dispelled two weeks before Ankaoua and her husband were due to leave when their seven-year-old son was told he could not play in the garden because he was Jewish.
“At that point I just said: ‘Merci, la France! Au revoir!’,” she said. “It made it so much easier for me to say goodbye to my country.”
From her new home in Jerusalem, Ankaoua works for the Israeli government, helping other European Jews driven to emigrate by what they perceive as an increasingly hostile atmosphere.
The extreme form such hostility can take was highlighted by last weekend’s killing of four visitors and staff of the Jewish Museum in Brussels in an apparent anti- semitic attack. Despite an international outcry, the Belgian police have yet to catch the perpetrator.
Figures compiled by the Israeli government say the exodus is most pronounced from France, home to more than 500,000 Jews, and Belgium, which has a 42,000-strong Jewish community. The number of French Jews moving to Israel doubled to 3,374 in 2013, after the killing in Toulouse the previous year by a French-Algerian anti-semite of seven people, including three students at a Jewish school.
This year it could hit 5,000: by the end of April, 1,499 had already made the journey.
Fans of the controversial French comedian DieudonnéFans of the controversial French comedian Dieudonné (Meunier Aurelien) The secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress, Serge Cwajgenbaum, said many more were moving to Britain, America and Canada. “Jews are questioning their future not only in France but in Europe at large because they fear for their safety.”
The EU’s racism watchdog found France, Belgium and Hungary were the worst countries in terms of perceived anti-semitism, according to a study conducted among Jewish minorities.