Voice from the Commonwealth Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts
"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams
Praise for Voice
"A smart fellow...I do like, recommend and learn from Barbera's blog." -Roger L. Simon
"Your blog is bullshit"- anonymous angry French reader.
The phone message is one of 10 waiting for Sylvain Zenouda at the local office of the Jewish Community Council of greater Paris: A gang of 15 North African teenagers, some of them wielding broom handles, had invaded the grounds of a Jewish day school on Avenue de Flandre in northeast Paris the previous evening. They punched and kicked teachers and students, yelled epithets and set off firecrackers in the courtyard before fleeing.
Zenouda is a commandant and 30-year veteran of the Paris police, but on this day, he is performing a different role: coordinator for the Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, a volunteer group. He phones the school, makes certain the principal has called the authorities and has insisted that the attack be recorded as a hate crime in the police report, then scribbles the details of the attack in his own battered blue notebook and on a red-and-white declaration form for the Jewish Community Council's burgeoning file of anti-Semitic assaults.
Elsewhere on this steamy July afternoon, he will meet with a businessman whose kosher restaurant was torched recently, a young man assaulted for wearing a Star of David necklace and a congregation of frightened synagogue-goers, some of whom are talking seriously of emigrating to Israel.
The file grows almost daily: 309 incidents in the past 15 months in the Paris region, according to Jewish council officials, and more than 550 since the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, broke out in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in September 2000. The National Consultative Committee on Human Rights, a government-funded body, reported a sixfold increase in acts of violence against Jewish people and property in France from 2001 to 2002.
Many incidents involve verbal assaults -- a taxi driver making an anti-Jewish remark to a passenger, a student harassed at school -- but nearly half involve violent acts of some kind. Most of the perpetrators are not the ultra-rightists and neo-Nazis who once were responsible for anti-Semitic acts, but young North African Arabs of the banlieues, the distant blue-collar suburbs where Muslims and Jews live and work in close proximity. Many of the victims are Sephardic Jews who themselves originally came from North Africa.
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