(JTA) — Protests in France over taxes are giving rise to anti-Semitic rhetoric, a prominent watchdog group said.
The head of the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Antisemitism, or BNVCA, Sammy Ghozlan, said Wednesday that “the ‘Yellow Jackets’ movement has an anti-Semitic base that repeats conspiracy theories about Jews and power.”
Launched last month as a protest against a proposed rise in diesel and fuel taxes, the movement has expanded into an anti-government drive featuring violent riots that have shut down the French capital several times. Some protesters have been filmed carrying signs and chanting slogans describing French President Emmanuel Macron as a “whore of the Jews” and their “puppet.”
Such language “was present from the very beginning of the protests and persists,” Ghozlan said, although he added that it exists “on the margins” of the protests. France has seen a 69 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2018 over the past year.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, said these developments will likely result in an increase in immigration by French Jews to Israel, or aliyah, which his group promotes in France and other countries.
In the first 10 months of 2018, more than 2,300 French Jews have made aliyah, while the number of those seeking information about aliyah from the foundation has increased by 30 percent in recent weeks, the foundation said in a statement. The fellowship said it is beefing up its France operations.