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French Jews: It feels like 1933 again

With world attention focusing on Dieudonne’s inverted Nazi salute – an antisemitic gesture with the added implication that Jews are censoring you from doing a full Nazi salute – World ORT has a Facebook feature on French Jews.

Clicking on each photo reveals the story of a different young French Jewish person.

Esther Douieb:

Principal Esther Douieb holds a photo of antisemitic graffiti sprayed on the school’s perimeter wall. It reads “LES YOUPIN AU FOUR” – YIDS TO THE OVEN. “It’s the Dieudonné effect,” Ms Douieb said.

Sacha Sellam:

I feel that we’re going back to 1933, says Sacha Sellam, 18. When I watch the television and use social networks I see the hatred of Jews again, everything is blamed on the Jews. Two weeks ago I went to my uncle’s shop in the centre of Marseille. It’s been there a long time, everyone knows it’s a Jewish shop, and anyway there’s a mezuzah on the door. When I was there, three bearded men wearing djellabas [traditional Moroccan outer garment] were outside: they shouted at us, swore at us, made the quenelle and said they’d be coming after us to kill us all. There’s no real answer because these people are ignorant; talking to them wouldn’t be of any use because they aren’t interested in talking.

Lucas Mattout:

As a Jew I feel threatened by the quenelle and everything associated with it, says Lucas Mattout, 19. It’s a real problem, not a ‘flash in the pan’; this is how it started in 1933. Aliyah is an option but I think the reaction should be to fight back. [Lucas is outspoken in his view - the school, ORT, and the overwhelming majority of his classmates, are emphatically opposed to the use of violence.]

Estelle Sebbagh:

I’ve not seen anyone do the quenelle in Marseille but I see it in the media and on social networks, says Estelle Sebbagh, 20. There’s so much publicity about Dieudonné, it may end up in violence. If someone did the quenelle in front of me it would make me very angry and make me feel like lashing out but I know that that’s not the answer. We can’t ignore the problem but the answer should be with words and not through violence. There’s a lot of fear and anger because we refuse to go through again what Jews had to go through before.