A new case of an alleged antisemitic murder, downplayed as an accident, could affect the outcome of next Sunday’s presidential election in France. A possible victory by far-right candidate Marine LePen over incumbent President Manuel Macron, who is up for re-election, could benefit French Jewry and Israel, not by LePen’s love for the Jews, but out of interest. But in truth, regardless of who is in power, Jews have no one to rely on but themselves.
Jeremy Cohen, a 31-year-old Jewish man wearing a yarmulke, was attacked in February by a gang of young Muslim immigrants in Bobigny, a town in the northeastern suburbs of Paris. When he tried to escape from his assailants, he was killed by a tram.
The police initially reported the incident as a “pedestrian accidentally being run over,” but Cohen’s family obtained a video as evidence of what looks like an unprovoked attack prior to the accident. It prompted law enforcement to reopen the case under accusations of covering up the antisemitic incident for political reasons.
Cohen’s death occurred around the anniversary of the 2017 murder of French Jewish teacher Sarah Halimi, who was beaten to death and thrown from her balcony by a Muslim neighbor. He was not prosecuted because the court ruled he had acted in a cannabis-induced psychotic episode. The decision sparked protests in several countries.
The Jewish community can continue to seek justice for any crime it uncovers, but it is highly doubtful that it will succeed. The French government and many French people are more sympathetic to the Muslim community than to French Jews. This is nothing new. France is a country with deep antisemitic roots, and one should not be impressed by its exquisite culture. As we have seen in the past with Germany, the more developed and enlightened a nation is, the more antisemitic it becomes.
French nationalist leader Marine LePen and Jewish right-wing candidate Éric Zemmour have campaigned on the need to combat violence by Islamic fundamentalists. The message seems to resonate with French voters, which could favor the right.
It may seem an oxymoron, but the rise of the far right, usually associated with anti-Zionist rhetoric, could actually benefit French Jewry. A strong government could better stand up to all those who hate Israel and would more likely put them in their place. This would keep the country calm and serene, which is what every society strives for. The right sees an opportunity to distance itself from the leftist agenda and gain Jewish support both through votes and sponsorship. Throughout history, it has been the case that Jews have had the ability to negotiate with kings, governments and leaders in order to preserve themselves.
The Jews’ struggle for justice is no longer expressed through mass demonstrations as in previous antisemitic cases. They have realized that rallies and shouting slogans are not conducive to ensuring their safety.
In any case, the Jews in France and in all the countries of Europe are weakening. They are not joining together to form a strong body to look after their well-being in each country and throughout the European continent. Their economic and political calculations and arguments gnaw at them and prevent them from uniting. But without cohesion, the Jews have no future. This is an eternal condition.
The Jews should put into practice and enact the deeper meaning of the term that has prevailed for generations: “Jew” (from the Hebrew word “Yehudi”) – “Yechudi” means unique and united. A Jew is one who strives to connect all humanity and all reality with the primary force of nature, the Upper Force. Therefore, only a Jewish community that learns to stick together, to overcome all the differences that grow and separate its members, will feel prejudices and negative attitudes towards it change for the better.