‘French Jews experiencing worst situation since 1945’

Source: Jerusalem Post

French soldiers patrol the street in a Jewish neighborhood . (photo credit:REUTERS)

Francis Kalifat, 64, said Sunday that his first priority as president of CRIF is to fight against the anti-Semitism that he said was responsible for the situation he described.

Israel in the Last Days

“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name; After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid. When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.”
Ezekiel 39:25-29

French Jews are experiencing the most difficult situation they have encountered since the end of World War II, the newly-elected president of France’s umbrella of Jewish communities said.

Francis Kalifat, 64, said Sunday that his first priority as president of CRIF is to fight against the anti-Semitism that he said was responsible for the situation he described.

“The fight against anti-Semitism is our main cause because French Jews are in the most difficult situation they have experience since World War II,” Kalifat said during an interview with Radio J shortly after his unanimous election to succeed Roger Cukierman as president.

Kalifat, who was born in Algeria and is the first Sephardic Jew to hold the position since CRIF’s establishment in 1944, was the only candidate running this election.

His presidency, which will become effective next month, comes at a time of record emigration by Jews from France, partly because of anti-Semitic violence that included hundreds of anti-Semitic incidents annually in recent years, and dozens of physical assaults. Since 2012, attacks on Jewish targets by French Islamists in France and Belgium claimed the lives of 12 people. Last year, roughly 8,000 French Jews left for Israel — the highest number on record for any year, which made France for the second year straight Israel’s largest provider of newcomers.

“I think all of our force needs to be united to fight against this anti-Semitism in all its forms, because we see this new anti-Semitism advancing under the guise of anti-Zionism,” added Kalifat, a businessman and longtime activist for Zionist and Jewish causes who is CRIF’s 11th president.

Fulfilling a role similar to Britain’s Board of Deputies of British Jews, CRIF is widely considered to be the main representative political body of French Jews, hosting French presidents and prime minister at events and gala dinners several times a year. The CRIF presidential election takes place every three years.

France’s Jewish community in predominantly Sephardic, with Ashkenazi Jews estimated to constitute a minority of 30 percent of the community. Hundreds of thousands of Jews later immigrated to France from North Africa, replenishing the community’s ranks. Yet CRIF has had a succession of Ashkenazi presidents, in what some critics said reflected a disconnect between the organization’s constituents and its leadership.

Following his election by the CRIF executive council, Kalifat delivered a speech that he began by recalling his parents.

“My mother, a real Jewish mother, was always understanding, warm and tolerant,” he said. “My father was a police official who loyally served our country and taught me humbleness, patience and respect for others but above all — a sense of duty.”

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