This is the season of le grand départ, when millions of French people leave for their summer vacation. Eighty-four percent of the French population will be going away on holiday this summer, and there are traffic jams hundreds of kilometers long from Paris to the Riviera.
But this year, as the masses pack their bathing suits, say au revoir to their co-workers and squeeze into crowded trains bound for the sea, Jew haters don’t seem to be taking a holiday.
To be fair, French President Jacques Chirac is doing what he can to fight anti-Semitism in France. He has expressed his "horror and dread" at the escalation of anti-Semitic acts.
But while American cyclist Lance Armstrong recently wowed the world by pedaling toward glory in the Tour de France, Chirac is backpedaling, after telling Ariel Sharon he was not welcome in France for calling on French Jews to leave France and come to Israel, because of "unleashed anti-Semitism."
The locals I spoke to in the Jewish quarters of Paris and Nice are tired of the polémique. Though some are leaving for Israel, most French Jews want to remain in France, where they have been for centuries, and they simply want the criminals who are attacking Jews to be caught and prosecuted.
As the temperature rises, so has the number of senseless, angry acts against French Jews. Following is an edited list of hostile acts against Jews in France this year since May 1:
May 1, Créteil: Stones were thrown at the Synagogue du 8 Mai 1945. Also, a rabbi going to synagogue with his son was accosted by two men. He was called a "dirty Jew" and a "dirty Rabbi Jacob." He was hit in the face and the stomach and threatened with death.
May 4, Metz: Two young Jews returning from soccer training were accosted by five young North Africans who yelled anti-Semitic insults and then beat them with iron bars. Two of the attackers were caught by police; one was released.
May 8, Paris, 10th District, Rue Saint-Martin: A young man of Maghrebian origin (the Maghreb consists of the former French colonies of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria in Muslim North Africa) standing with friends yelled anti-Semitic insults at some Jews going into a synagogue. He threw a bottle of beer at them, hitting a Jewish man in the head. The police chased the group but they got away.
May 10, Paris Metro: "Jews-Criminals-Nazis" was scrawled on the walls of a tunnel.
May 12, Aubervilliers: A Jewish man was parking his car near his office, where his brother was waiting for him. A man of Maghrebian origin called the brother a "dirty Jew" and said he would return with his family and 50 friends now that he knew where they worked.
The Jewish man parking his car was beaten and insulted by his attacker, who threatened, "I swear on the Koran of Mecca, I am going to kill you."
May 15, Yerres: "Death to Jews" was written on a car belonging to a Jew. The car has been regularly defaced and its wheels slashed in the garage of the victim’s home.
May 27, Paris, 19th District: Two young Jewish girls were surrounded by 14 boys and girls of North African origin who beat and insulted them.
May 30, Boulogne-Billiancourt: A rabbi’s 16-year-old son was returning home on his scooter with a friend, when a young man called him a "dirty Jew." Five other young men surrounded him, as his friend went for help. The rabbi’s son was beaten and kicked before escaping. He suffered multiple contusions and a broken rib.
June 4, Epinay-sur-Seine: A young man was stabbed in the chest. The assailant, who was waiting for him in front of a yeshiva, screamed "Allah ouakbar" as he attacked him with a butcher knife.
June 6, Paris, 19th District: A woman sitting at an outdoor café was called a "dirty Jew" by a man who punched her in the face and broke her nose.
June 6, Paris, 17th District: A 20-year-old woman walking toward the Metro station was accosted by seven youths of Maghrebian origin. They called her a "dirty Jew," spit on her and threw stones at her head. She escaped but was afraid to file a complaint.
June 7, Charenton-le-Pont: The doors of several apartments belonging to Jewish families were defaced with swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti: "Kill the Jews," "Death to the Jews," "We’re going to kill your race."
June 19, Saint-Ouen: Youths of Maghrebian origin hurled insults at a young Jewish girl walking with her brother. When the brother asked why they were bothering her, he was called a "dirty Jew" and hit behind the ear with a stick. The attacker received six days of detention.
June 27, Paris, Avenue Jean Jaures, 19th District: Two religious Jews and an 8-year-old boy were attacked by two men of Maghrebian origin on a motorcycle who drove onto the sidewalk. They hit the child in the face and chest.
June 29, Paris, Rue de Flandres, 19th District: High school boys leaving school were cut off on the road by a car. The men in the car were armed with sticks that had metal points and attacked the youths. Some of the boys escaped, but one was thrown against a wall and beaten unconscious, while they called him a "dirty Jew." The men fled when one of the boys screamed for help.
July 1, Amiens: Ten swastikas were found on the Rue des Juifs and in several other streets in the village of Arquèves.
July 1, Paris, Rue Buisson, 20th District: Scrawled on the walls of an apartment building was: "Dirty Jews, the whole building wants you to get out."
July 7, Bordeaux: "Kill the Jews" was written on the walls of a shop belonging to a Jewish family.
July 11, Paris, 20th District: A swastika and Star of David were drawn on a residential parking facility.
Aug. 10, Lyon: Vandals spray paint swastikas on 60 Jewish tombstones. The third such attack at the cemetary since May.
The information was supplied by CRIF.org and consistoire.org. The reports are compiled from the Service de Protection de la Communauté Juive, an organization that works with and shares information with the police.