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That crowd, fairly compact and determined, stood outside a synagogue on the rue de la Roquette, just off Bastille square, locking frightened congregants inside for more than an hour. Chants and slogans hostile to Israel and Jews in general were reportedly heard.
This is particularly troubling for two reasons (if you set aside the stupid slogans for a minute): 1) physical intimidation on the basis of race or creed is deeply undemocratic - I do not think it is as serious in the case of a labor dispute for instance; 2) I find the conflation of French Jews and Israel very distressing on the part of pro-Palestinian demonstrators in France. I am not naive, obviously a lot of French Jews support Israel - but still, such action completely negates the benefit of the doubt or even the countless nuances and qualifications of that support, and in essence lumps everybody together as a group or community - it's 'the Jews' just in the same way the other side say 'the Arabs.'
This is not entirely unexpected - the French context is particular: largest Jewish community in Europe, successfully integrated and highly visible at all levels of politics, media and business (not sports LOL); a very large Muslim population of North African ancestry - much less successfully integrated and still stigmatized (well, it has not been as long I'd guess so one needs to give it more time). Lately in France, expressions of antizionism and antisemitism have become an acceptable form of political discourse, kind of a 'de rigueur' mantra of confused disenfranchisement and anti-establishment feelings. It is attributing fantastical powers and coherent motives to a community that can't even agree, to this day, on who is and isn't a member and what the hell it actually means.
So while I stand by and reiterate that I cannot and will not support the State of Israel, I would like to add that I find the loony left anti-imperialist ignoramuses extremely dangerous: these people are playing with rhetorical fire in their kitchen meth lab. It will not end well for anybody.
That being said, and to add perspective, it turns out that here in LA, our very own LAPD - always at the forefront of civil rights and free speech - is investigating itself for shots fired at pro-Palestinian demonstrators. Other country, other mores I suppose.