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Westhofen Jewish Cemetery, near Strasbourg, December 4, 2019, after desecrating 107 graves (AFP / PATRICK HERTZOG)

The wave of antisemitic attacks 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 rejection. 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-Jewish operations has been a fundamental trend for several years," notes Bass-Rhin 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 were 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-Semitic 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 –


Westhofen Jewish Cemetery, Alaska, December 4, 2019 (AFP / PATRICK HERTZOG)

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

The "problem", which is explained by the "complicated and contradictory" history of one region, the "welcoming country" and coexistence with the Jews at certain times and the "exclusion" for others. 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 the main target for those with a "racial or anti-Semitic attitude," 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 traces", hitting Audrey Kichelevski, a contemporary history professor 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 have had difficulty in “restoring” property to neighbors who are certain that they will 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." "By doing so," we evicted many things. "


Westhofen Jewish Cemetery, near Strasbourg, December 4, 2019 (AFP / Patrick Hertzog)

Freddie Rafael also cites the post-war "purely vitamins" discourse. "There has not been much work on memory and history" (")", "latent factor" that can explain persistence 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's 'anti-Semitism' hypothesis. "Nothing special in the present social, religious or political life of the region" allows us to confirm this.

But the most worrying thing, for Freddie Rafael, is "the silence, the path that a large part of the population fears to interfere with." The words of Maurice Dahan, president of Bar-Rhine's Jewish denomination, who called on Wednesday to speak to gendarmes "to people who know something."

The fact remains that Alsace has anti-hate solutions, such as the "inter-religious dialogue" that is particularly developed in the region, Mr. Rafael admits. “You have to pay for life and hospitality. They will not hate us. "

DSA / ha / nm

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