The French government has called for a firm response to a series of anti-Semitic acts over the weekend including Nazi graffiti and vandalism.
Benjamin Griveaux, government spokesman, urged the police on Tuesday to pursue the culprits while suggesting the spate of attacks could be blamed on far-left and far-right activists who have infiltrated weekly anti-government “yellow vest” protests.
A judicial official told The Associated Press on Tuesday that four investigations have been opened by Paris prosecutors after the latest incidents.
The acts included desecration of the memorial for Ilan Halimi, a young Jewish man who was tortured to death in 2006. A tree planted at the scene where he was found dying in a Paris suburb was chopped down and a second tree was partly sawed through.
France: ‘Yellow vests’ protest despite Macron’s grand debate
In addition, portraits of the late Simone Veil – a Holocaust survivor and a European Parliament president who died in 2017 – drawn on mailboxes were daubed with swastikas.
In a separate incident, one of the founders of bagel chain Bagelstein said the word “Juden” was painted on the window of one of their restaurants.
Last weekend, an anti-discrimination advocate revealed graffiti saying “Macron Jews’ Bitch”, in English, on a garage door in the centre of Paris, and the phrase “Jewish pig” scrawled on a wall in the city’s northern 18th district.
President Emmanuel Macron was also targeted in graffiti discovered on Monday at the headquarters of French daily Le Monde, using anti-Semitic language to refer to his former job as a Rothschild investment banker.
Sebastien Lecornu, the junior foreign minister, pointed the finger at “yellow vest” protesters for the latest offences.
“Conspiracy theorists are very present among their ranks,” he said, before referring to a survey released on Monday.
The Ifop poll said nearly half of “yellow vests” believed in a worldwide “Zionist plot”, as well as the “Great Replacement” theory, which posits that immigration is being organised deliberately “to replace Europe’s native populations”.
But the rise in anti-Semitic acts in France pre-dates the “yellow vest” demonstrations and there was no evidence on Tuesday tying the latest incidents to the movement.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Monday the number of anti-Jewish offences reported to the police surged 74 percent last year, to 541 from 311 in 2017.
In a statement on Tuesday, Castaner said 183 involved assaults and at least one murder, while 358 were anti-Semitic threats or insults.
Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and Israel’s leaders – UpFront