The following is the last of three articles on “Anti-Semitism in France” by the Paris correspondent of the Jewish Daily Bulletin and Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
So rapidly have events happened in France that in attempting to describe the situation, attention must be diverted from a state of affairs to the recording of new developments. When the first two articles in this series were being written, it was possible to speak only of certain moods which might in time be molded in the form of a French anti-Semitic movement. Now one must talk not of “moods” but of a movement, an anti – Semitic movementâ€”one of substantial, if not threatening, proportions.
How is the anti-Semitic movement constituted in France? Once again we are talking of the present moment, and it is fully possible that, when this article reaches the reader, the physiognomy of the movement will be changed beyond recognition. Today the French anti-Semitic movement is headed by the following groups: “Action Francaise,” “Francists” and “French Solidarity.” What does each of these groups represent and what do they threaten for the future?
Action Francaise, or Camelot du Roiâ€”an old monarchist organization whose anti-Semitism is traced to the period marked by the Dreyfus case and the Drummond propaganda. Anti-Semitism is not their sole occupation but only insofar as this facilitates their struggle against the republican regime. They, however, don’t mind dividing the Jews into two classes: the “shinnies,” republicans, and “distinguished Israelites,” e.g., those who are supporting the legitimist movement in France.
NEWS VENDORS ATTACKED
The number of camelot du Roi adherents reaches in Paris and the provinces 20,000. Their anti-Semitic activity is reduced to comparatively rare gangster-like assaults on the vendors of Jewish newspapers. These deeds are on the following day eulogized in a highly lyrical manner in the Action Francaise. Camelot du Roi men do not dare to undertake more significant operations.
In 1925, however, they made an attempt to smash a number of stores in the Jewish quarter of Paris, but the counter attack offered by the non-Jewish inhabitants of the quarter ruined their inclination for further attempts of this kind. In 1930 they were the inspiration of a demonstration protesting against the Paris showing of Bruno Weyl’s play, “The Dreyfus Case.” Within the past few months the Camelot du Roi have reverted to their favorite activity; they are again attacking Jewish newspaper vendors, not always without damage to themselves.
Francistsâ€”this is a more recent manifestation. Like the British Fascists, Francists are separated into two groups. One was founded by Marcel Bucaire and is, according to his own statement, “Fascism transplanted to the French soil and adjusted to French conditions.” The Francism of Bucaire is not directed against the Jews. On the contrary, Bucaire strongly emphasizes that his movement is not interested in the religious affiliations of any French citizen.
There is also another group of Francists. Its leaders, one Koston, has adopted different tactics. For him anti-Semitism is the cornerstone of the France program.
These two groups are bitterly opposed to each other. Regrettably, Bucaire’s group numbers but a few dozen persons, while behind Koston stands a small army of five or six hundred young men, excellently trained and ready for any adventure.
Let us now pass on to the third current in the French anti-Semitic movement, the French Solidarity. This current will, in all probability, turn out as the most popular among the anti-Semitic groupings. It came into existence five months ago on the ruins of Coty’s Ami du People.
This newspaper, as is known, engaged in Jew-baiting for five years, went into bankruptcy and was sold at auction. It passed into the hands of one Jan-Reno, who utilized it as a basis for creating a popular movement of republican anti-Semitic character.
The slogan of this movement is “France for Frenchmen, Jewsâ€” into Jerusalem!” Anti-Semitic propaganda is conducted by M. Reno with exceptional skill, without hysterical shouting, calmly and, seemingly, incidentally. The danger of this type of propaganda is exceedingly great, and to it must be attributed the success of French Solidarity.
MOVEMENT GAINS ADHERENTS
Toward the end of the fifth month of its existence it numbered about 180,000 members. This is no longer an insignificant group of fanatics, nor a handful of hooligans, but a big popular movement which at this time is, in all probability, only in the beginning of its development.
Which side in this movement will triumphâ€”the demand for strong republican power or the cry of “Jews into Jerusalem!”â€” is as yet difficult to say, but a realistic threat to French Jewry is contained right there.
At this point we shall conclude our review of the principal branches of French anti-Semitism today. As we have already stated, events are unfolding at a rapid pace. French anti-Semitism of the new type is now in the process of birth and its true nature is not yet known to us. The immediate future will reveal this enemy force with which French Jewry will have to contend.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.