Attack on Jewish School Heightens Tensions Between Arabs and Jews

December 3, 2003

Source: The New York Times

On December 3, 2003 The New York Times reported, "Early one Saturday in November, unidentified vandals set fire to the new two-story wing of the Merkaz Hatorah School for Orthodox Jews that was set to open as an elementary school in January. The fire prompted President Jacques Chirac to call an emergency cabinet meeting and declare that 'an attack on a Jew is an attack against France.' It also intensified an agonizing debate over the definition and extent of anti-Semitism today in France, and indeed all of Europe, and forced the French government to redouble its efforts to combat it. But even as they praise their government for acting swiftly, some French Jews, particularly working-class and middle-class Jews of North African origin, are convinced that France is not entirely safe for them. They say the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the American occupation of Iraq have morphed into a battleground for French Arab Muslims to attack Jews."