PARIS (Nov. 16)
The mayor of Aix-les-Bains in southwestern France has vowed to stand fast against a drive led by a right-wing town council member to cancel plans for the construction of a new synagogue and yeshiva.
Council member Jean Murguet argued that “there are , as it is, already too many Jews in our town,” in an appeal made by him and six rightwing colleagues against the lease of a city-owned 6,000-square-meter plot to a Jewish foundation, just approved by Mayor Gratien Ferrari.
The foundation plans to erect a modern synagogue, a school, community center and library on the land.
The city of 25,000 on the shores of Lake Bourget is home to a well-known yeshiva and other Jewish centers of learning. Apart from seasonal students, the permanent Jewish population numbers no more than 1,000.
Aix-les-Bains is also a famous summer resort. Murguet and several other council members are spreading fear that the sight of people in traditional Jewish garb with beards and payot would discourage tourists.
Jean Kahn, chairman of CRIF, the representative council of French-Jewish organizations, denounced Murguet’s remarks as anti-Semitism of the most blatant sort.
Mayor Ferrari, a center-right politician of Italian origin, told French Radio on Thursday that most citizens support his decision to approve the lease and he would not reconsider.
He charged that Murguet and his claque are close to Jean-Marie Le Pen and his far rightwing, racist National Front party.