Rash of Anti-semitic Vandalism Strikes Paris, Strasbourg Areas

France has been struck with another rash of anti-Semitic vandalism in recent days, including the torching of synagogues near Paris and Strasbourg, and the desecration of two cemeteries in the eastern part of the country.

In Villepinte, a suburb north of Paris where some 160 Jewish families live, the community’s small synagogue was set on fire by at least three masked people on New Year’s Eve.

They threw firebombs at the door, then broke a window and threw more firebombs inside the building.

The furniture was destroyed, but the Torah scrolls were spared. The arsonists fled when neighbors came out to see what was going on.

Jacques Grosslerner, one of the leaders of the local Jewish community, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he had received anonymous, threatening telephone calls on the eve of Chanukah. The police are investigating a possible connection.

The desecrations in eastern France seem to be tied to Israel’s deportation of 415 Palestinians to Lebanon.

In Cronenbourg, a borough of Strasbourg, some 15 graves at the Jewish cemetery were daubed Dec. 30 with an inscription reading “415 equals a swastika.”

Local Jews believe this was probably a “political reaction” to the deportations.

Another Jewish cemetery in Cronenbourg was desecrated the following day. Some 30 headstones were broken, but no inscriptions were found.

The same day, a small apartment being used as a synagogue by the Sephardic community of Bischheim, in northern Strasbourg, had its windows shattered when people threw fire extinguishers through them.

Claude Lederer, rabbi of Bischheim, told JTA he was sorry this last story had reached the media. “Why raise hell for a couple of shattered windows?” he asked.

“When much more important events happen to the Jewish community, the general press keeps mum. I think that to publicize such little incidents can only give bad ideas to some hotheads,” he said.

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