French Holocaust survivors rally against new anti-Semitism, and activists demand peace

PARIS (AP) — Survivors of Nazi atrocities joined young Jewish activists outside the Holocaust Memorial in Paris on Saturday to sound the alarm over the resurgence of anti-Semitic hate speech, graffiti and abuse linked to the genocide. The war between Israel and Hamas.

The impact of the conflict is of increasing concern in France and beyond. Thousands of left-wing and pro-Palestinian activists demonstrated in Paris and across Britain on Saturday to demand a ceasefire, the latest in a series of similar events. Protests in major cities around the world Since the war started.

France is home to the largest Jewish population outside of Israel and the United States, and the largest Muslim population in Western Europe. The war reopened the doors to anti-Jewish sentiment in a country whose wartime cooperation with the Nazis left deep scars. About 100,000 people marched through Paris last week to… Condemn anti-Semitism.

Esther Sinnott, 96, said that the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 triggered her memories of World War II.

“I have lived through massacres like this,” she said at the Holocaust Memorial in Paris. “I saw people dying in front of me.”

Her sister was among them: “They brought her to the gas chamber in front of my eyes.”

Most of the Sinnott family died. She survived 17 months in Auschwitz-Birkenau and other death camps and returned to France at the age of 17, weighing only 32 kilograms (70 lb).

Sinnott was speaking at an event organized by the Jewish youth organization Hashomer Hatzai, where teenage activists drew a comparison between what is happening now and the period leading up to World War II. They raised a banner reading, “We will not let history repeat itself.”

The French Interior Ministry said this week that 1,762 anti-Semitic acts had been reported this year, as well as 131 anti-Muslim acts and 564 anti-Christian acts. Half of the anti-Semitic acts involve graffiti, protest posters or banners bearing Nazi symbols or violent anti-Jewish messages. It also includes physical attacks on Jewish people and websites and online threats. The ministry said that most of them were registered after the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

Serge Klarsfeld, a famous Nazi hunter and president of the Sons and Daughters of Jewish Sports from France, noted that anger at the actions of the Israeli government was often mixed with anti-Jewish sentiment. While he is concerned about the current atmosphere in France, he seeks to put it into perspective.

He said: “There are certainly anti-Semitic acts (in France), but they are not on an urgent level.” I expressed my hope for “the wisdom of the two communities who know how lucky they are to live in this extraordinary country.”

France has citizens directly affected by the war: The initial Hamas attack killed 40 Frenchmen, and French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu is shuttling around the Middle East this week trying to negotiate the release of eight French citizens held hostage by Hamas.

Two French children were also killed in the subsequent Israeli attack on Gaza, according to the Foreign Ministry, which is pushing for humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza.

On Sunday, hundreds of French entertainment stars from different cultural and religious backgrounds plan to hold a silent march in central Paris to call for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. They will walk from the Arab World Institute to the Museum of Art and History of Judaism.

Like France and some other countries, Britain has witnessed protests demanding a ceasefire every weekend since the war began. Organizers from Palestinian organizations and left-wing groups said rallies and rallies were held in dozens of towns and cities across the UK on Saturday.

Some held protests at crowded railway stations, while hundreds of people demonstrated outside the north London office of opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer. His refusal to call a ceasefire and instead called for a “humanitarian truce” angered some members of the centre-left party.


Associated Press writers Angela Charlton in Paris and Jill Lawless in London contributed.

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