A Frenchman or a Jew?

(New York Times Magazine) Fernanda Eberstadt - Since the beginning of the second Palestinian intifada in September 2000, France has suffered what is widely considered the worst epidemic of anti-Jewish violence since the end of the Second World War, much of it at the hands of young Muslims. According to S.O.S. Verite-Securite, an anti-Semitism watchdog organization, 147 Jewish institutions - schools, synagogues, community centers, businesses - have been attacked. For Hajiba, born in Morocco and raised in a housing project in Strasbourg, the current wave of anti-Jewish violence is best understood as the product not of old-country prejudice but of an imported fundamentalism whose arrival in France she herself witnessed. Well before the second intifada and the recent flurry of violent incidents on French soil, she said, fundamentalists transformed the way many French Muslims regarded Jews. ''After the Iranian revolution,'' she said, ''suddenly radical Islam arrived in France.'' Its growth was made possible by a legal loophole according to which foreign governments - most notably Saudi Arabia's - were able, through the medium of charitable foundations, to build their own mosques and appoint their own fundamentalist imams in France, a dispensation that is only just being questioned. This newly imported Wahhabi-style Islam contained a high-octane dosage of anti-Semitism.

2004-03-01 00:00:00

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