PARIS (Oct. 7)
Denouncing racism and crying “Jews and non-Jews, we are fighting the same battle,” more than 100,000 persons, possibly as many as 200,000, marched in disciplined ranks through Paris today in a massive demonstration of protest against last Friday’s neo-Nazi terrorist bombing of a synagogue and the rash of anti-Semitic acts spreading in France.
In a rare gesture of solidarity with the protestors, the National Assembly adjourned by unanimous vote so that its members could join the march. The vast throng followed the traditional Labor Day route from the Place de la Nation to the Place de la Republique in eastern Paris. The march was organized by the Human Rights Movement Against Racism and for Peace (MRAP).
The demonstration was extraordinary since representatives of most French political parties were present as well as people of all political opinions: Zionists, pro-Israelis and also those who are openly pro-Palestinians. Never before in the history of France did so many people demonstrate against fascism and Nazism and show such solidarity with the Jews.
Most moving was the strong presence of young Jews who waved Israeli banners and sang the Hatikvah and other Hebrew songs. They looked determined as they pointed their fists and shouted in unison: “Israel shall live” and “jail the fascists.” The march started at 5 p.m. along a two-mile route and lasted until 9 p.m. with thousands and thousands of people marching in an orderly manner.
MASSIVE PRESENCE OF NON-JEWS
Most impressive also was the massive presence of non-Jews who came to the demonstration “We have to show solidarity with the Jews. If we were indifferent to fascist actions against them we would be responsible for a fascist takeover and afterwards, it would be cur turn to be in trouble, a non-Jewish demonstrator told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
“We have to reject the ugly fascist beast,” another demonstrator stated. The bottle cry of Communist-led trade union members was “Giscard Bonnet — accomplices of the murderers.” This was in line with charges in many quarters, following the bombing which took four lives and injured 32 persons that President Valery Giscard d’Estaing and Interior Minister Christian Bonnet have been lax in cracking down on neo-Nazi organizations in France, thereby emboldening them. The government was also criticized for not sending any representative to the Rue Copernic Temple at the Shabbat service the day after the bomb attack.
Other mass demonstrations took place in many provincial cities, evidence that a majority of the French people reject anti-Semitism. However, while French people braced themselves for the struggle against fascism other anti-Jewish incidents took place overnight in France.
In Nice, on the Riviera, a powerful firecracker was thrown at demonstrators denouncing anti-Semitism. A Jewish butcher shop in Nice was ransacked and anti-Semitic slogans were scrawled on its walls.
In Marseilles, a home-made bomb was found by police outside a Jewish-owned restaurant. It had failed to explode. The owner said he and other Jewish tradesmen in the area had received threatening messages from the outlawed neo-Nazi Federation of European Nationalist Action (FANE). Members of FANE claimed responsibility for smashing the windows of a Jewish-owned clothing store in Troyes in eastern France.