Over the past year, France has experienced a 74% increase in Anti-Semitic acts. In recent weeks, murals of famous Jewish politicians have been defaced, memorials have been desecrated, and most recently, 80 graves have been vandalized in a Jewish cemetery in France.
Meanwhile, the gilets jaunes protests rage on, a movement that still has no clear leader and what appears to be a thousand contradictory motives, all housed under a single yellow umbrella. After a recent incident where a famous Jewish academic was harassed by a group of yellow vests, people have begun questioning whether the thousands of protestors in the streets of France could be provoking — or at least, facilitating — the wave of Anti-Semitism roiling through France.
Sacha Ghozlan, the head of France’s Jewish Student Union, takes a more holistic view of these Anti-Semitic acts, noting that they are only one facet of a rapidly deteriorating social state. “We also see an extremely high level of homophobia, xenophobia, and racism against migrants,” Ghozlan says.
And he’s not wrong. While France has a very dark and complicated history with the Jewish people, other marginalized groups are not exempt from the turbulent state of sociopolitical affairs. And as for the gilets jaunes, if these events have taught us nothing, it is that blaming one group of people for an entire country’s problems is never the answer.