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France: Anti-Semitic attacks dropped 50 percent in 2010 (JERUSALEM POST) By GIL SHEFLER 03/02/11)Source: http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=210474 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The number of anti-Semitic attacks in France dropped by half in 2010, French ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot announced on Wednesday.

According to official data presented by Bigot, a total of 466 anti- Semitic incidents were recorded in France in 2010 in comparison to 832 in 2009.

Over coffee at the French embassy in Tel Aviv with the Mediterranean Sea serving as a backdrop, the svelte diplomat offered Israeli press with his analysis of the data.

“[The cause for the decrease is] the police, the work of justice, the work of high school education and the vigilance of the media,” Bigot said. “It’s not only due to the relative calm in the region. There was the flotilla incident,” Israel’s raid on a Gaza-bound boat which left nine dead and dozens wounded in early 2010,” that could have provoked more attacks, but still we’ve seen a decrease.”

French statistics from 2010 broke down the number of anti-Semitic incidents to one attempted murder of a Jewish individual, 56 violent attacks, eight arson attempts, 66 cases of sabotage or vandalism and 366 threats made against Jewish institutions or individuals.

Bigot said no official data exists on the personal backgrounds of the perpetrators of anti-Semitic attacks in France or their motivations, but he rejected suspicions that a disproportionate number of them might be French Muslims.

“I am not sure there are more anti-Semitic attacks from this community,” he said, referring to French Muslims.

Attacks on Jewish institutions and individuals in France peaked in 2009 in large part due to the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The 2010 numbers represent a return to the figures from 2008 when 474 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded.

Since 2004, the French government has allocated 15 million euros to ratchet up security surrounding 349 synagogues and schools which serve the country’s estimated 600,000 Jews, the world’s second largest Jewish community outside of Israel. In addition, since December 2009 a specially appointed French government official has been coordinating efforts to battle anti-Semitism.

Bigot told Israeli media at the press conference that France’s policy on fighting anti-Semitism has won praise from many Jewish leaders including Anti-Defamation League head Abraham Foxman. Still, he said his government would not tolerate any hate crimes and continue to try and reduce the number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2011.

“There is still a high-level of anti-Semitism in Europe,” Bigot said, “and not only should we not deny this but we need to recognize it so we can fight it.” (© 1995 - 2011 The Jerusalem Post. 03/02/11)

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