French officials denounced Monday what they called “intolerable” violence against a Paris Jewish community.
The Los Angeles Times reports France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve visited Paris Monday to survey the damage of recent riots. The city has been the scene of escalating anti-Semitic violence, stemming from pro-Palestinian demonstrations.
For the third time in a week, protesters clashed Sunday with Jewish residents of the city’s Sarcelles neighborhood. The riots left a kosher grocery store and numerous cars burned in the neighborhood sometimes referred to as “little Jerusalem.”
According to The Huffington Post, rioters attacked and looted other businesses while locals reported they heard cries of “Gas the Jews” and “Kill the Jews.”
Cazeneuve called the events "serious, unacceptable acts" of anti-Semitic violence.
“When you threaten synagogues and when you burn a grocery because it is Jewish-owned then you are committing anti-Semitic acts,” he said. “Protest against Israel is legitimate. Nothing can justify such violence.”
France is home to both the largest Muslim and Jewish populations in Europe. Tension between the two communities is common during periods of unrest in the Middle East, reports Haaretz.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the violence a “new form of anti-Semitism” in a statement published on the Internet.
"France will not allow provocations to feed ... conflicts between communities,” he said.
The protests in France began when fighting between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza broke out July 8. Since that time, nearly 500 Palestinians — many of them civilians — have been killed in Israeli airstrikes.
Two synagogues were attacked in Paris the previous weekend as news of the airstrikes spread.
Roger Cuikerman, head of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France, said he understood rallying against Israeli policies and airstrikes. But targeting all Jews in a city because of Israel’s policies was “deeply disturbing,” he said.
“Anti-Zionism is just another form of anti-Semitism,” Cuikerman said during a recent radio interview. “They are not screaming, ‘Death to the Israelis’ on the streets of Paris. They are screaming, ‘Death to the Jews.’”
Fearing more violence, city officials proposed banning further protests. But critics claimed banning such demonstrations would only lead to more violence. The last riot in Sarcelles was the result of a banned demonstration, they claimed.
Pro-Palestinian protesters have said France is siding with Israel in the conflict, citing the bans on demonstrations and statements from French President Francois Hollande’s office saying that Israel was justified in conducting the airstrikes in Gaza.
Cazeneuve said decisions to ban further rallies would be made on a case-by-case basis.