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Anti-Semitism. Alsace, a welcoming country, but also a rejection of the Jews

The wave of antisemitic actions against Alice, ultimately desecrating Westhofen's Jewish cemetery, is an expression of the region that is deeply celebrated in the age-old tradition of welcoming Judaism, but sometimes also in denial. according to researchers.

And in this "complicated" history, insufficient memory work on the hatred inherited from Nazi occupation certainly plays a role, they explained to AFP.

"The rise of anti-Semitic activity in recent years has been a fundamental trend," notes Bass-Rey Prefecture.

In this section and since the beginning of the year, 37 "anti-Semitic, racist or anti-immigration facts" have been identified – four times more than in 2015. Nine out of ten of these actions have been anti-Semitic this year.

Among them, three desecration of Jewish cemeteries, from December 2018 to December 2019, in Hurlshim, Kwatsenheim and Westphen. Already in 2015, teenagers raped 250 stars from the Sarre-Union cemetery.

Dozens of anti-Jewish and / or migrant graffiti have also been found in public buildings in recent months.

Of course, Alsace is far from the exception of anti-Semitism, which is experiencing a significant rise nationally (in 2018, + 74% of anti-Semitic activities, according to the Interior Ministry). But the discovery of hundreds of stained glass windows in Westhofen on Tuesday raises a question.

– Ideological Hippies –

Anti-Semitism. Alsace, a welcoming country, but also a rejection of the Jews

"Who would dare to claim that Alsace has nothing to do with anti-Semitism," thinks Michelle Deneken, president of the University of Strasbourg.

The "problem", which is explained by the "complicated and contradictory" history of one region, the "welcoming land" and coexistence with the Jews at certain times and the "exclusion" of others, is explained by sociologist Freddie Rafael.

Alsace is one of "all regions of France" where "the presence (of Jews) is the oldest," as evidenced even today by the large Jewish community in Strasbourg, notes George Bischoff, a professor of history at Unistra.

Often rural anchors, synagogues and cemeteries were displayed in the countryside, and their "visibility" was much more important than elsewhere, continues political scientist Richard Kleinschmager.

Jewish cemeteries, often "isolated", are a prime target for those who have a "racial or anti-Jewish approach," he said.

According to Mr. Bishoff, the district near Moselle by Alsace and the Third Reich, the 1940-1945 invasion made the region "a very strong ideological metaphor."

He "subjected it to Nazi propaganda for five years", an extremely violent propaganda that "leaves no trace" abundantly shows Audrey Kichelevski, a professor of modern history in Strasbourg.

Like any other place, the Alsatian Jews were persecuted and annihilated. Returning survivors of the Holocaust after the war was "difficult," he said. Some found it difficult to “recover the property,” which fell into the hands of neighbors who were certain they would not return.

– "Silence" –

He probably also missed a "real case of memory" during this time, pushing for Mr. Bischoff. "The Alsatians considered it, and it is not false that they were just victims," ​​thus "we evicted many things."

Anti-Semitism. Alsace, a welcoming country, but also a rejection of the Jews

Freddie Rafael also cites the post-war "purely sacrificial discourse". "There has not been much work on memory and history," a "latent factor" that may explain persistence in anti-Jewish theses.

"Those who are concerned with this ideology (…) are quite young," says Mr. Bishoff. According to Bas-Rhin prefect Jean-Luc Marx, investigators are on the trajectory of a "well-integrated group" that lies in "Nazi and anti-Jewish ideology."

Richard Kleinshmager rejects Alsace 'anti-Semitism' hypothesis: "Nothing unique in the region's current social, religious or political life allows us to confirm that.

But the "most worrying", for Freddie Rafael, is "the silence, the way some (population) is fat, afraid to interfere." Statements reflecting the president of Bas-Rhin's Jewish faith, Maurice Dahan, who called on Wednesday to speak with gendarmes "people who know something."

The fact remains that Alsace has a solution to avert hatred, such as the "inter-religious dialogue" that is particularly developed in the region, Dr. Rafael says. “You have to pay for life and hospitality. They will not have our hatred. ”

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