Well, if you thought that France getting a new Socialist president, François Hollande, was going to mean a retreat from the Franco-dystopia that unfolded under his reactionary predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy—time to think again. Sarkozy’s election in 2007 saw the outburst of an intifada by North African immigrant youth in the Parisian suburbs, followed by the unleashing of police repression. Not much later, Sarkozy instated a harsh crackdown on the Roma, ordering police to break up their camps, sparking more protests and an official censure of France by the European Commission. So what a sense of deja vu… Hollande now says his government will use “all means” necessary to restore peace after a new uprising by immigrant youth—this time centered around the northern city of Amiens—left more than a dozen police officers injured and several buildings damaged or destroyed. (LAT, Aug. 15)
And the new suburban intifada comes just as Hollande has initiated a new crackdown on the Roma—who have been getting kicked around all over Europe in recent years. At least five camps around Paris have been demolished and several hundred of their residents ordered out; others came down in Lille and Lyon. The European Commission says it is studying the situation. (AP, Aug. 15)
And once again, it looks like Jews are being set up to take the hit for the repression. Last month, after two North African youth were arrested in the beating of a Jewish youth in Lyon, Interior Minister Manuel Valls again raised the specter of a “new breed of anti-Semitism in our neighborhoods, in our suburbs.” However, a close reading of news accounts reveals that although the victim had an “identifiably Jewish appearance,” the evidence of an anti-Semitic motive stops there. A judiciary source told the AFP that so far “none of the witness statements highlighted any anti-Semitic comments.” (European Jewish Press, July 9)
We certainly aren’t dismissing the possibility that the young man was targeted because he is Jewish, but if a new wave of police repression in the immigrant suburbs of France is presented as protecting the Jews… it certainly isn’t going to be good for the Jews.