US Jews follow French attacks with mounting concern
Last week`s jihadist attacks in Paris triggered worldwide outrage, and among those most touched were Jews in the United States, fearful that they heralded a new wave of anti-Semitism.
Washington: Last week`s jihadist attacks in Paris triggered worldwide outrage, and among those most touched were Jews in the United States, fearful that they heralded a new wave of anti-Semitism.
France is home to the third largest Jewish community in the world, after Israel and the United States, and transatlantic ties of faith and family are strong.
Horrified Americans watched live television images of the eve of Sabbath siege of a Paris kosher supermarket where an Islamist gunman killed four hostages before police burst in and shot him.
Hundreds of people gathered in a synagogue in Washington in tribute to the victims of the store attack and the earlier killings of French police and the staff of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
"Jews must not and will not be driven out of Europe," Jason Isaacson, executive director of policy at the American Jewish Committee of Policy, told mourners at Tuesday`s event.
Commentators such as America`s feisty cable news anchors have made alarming parallels to the darkest periods of European history, but the official White House response has been more cautious.
French troops are battling Al Qaeda-linked militants in the deserts of West Africa and its aircraft carrier is steaming towards the Middle East reinforce the fight against the Islamic State group.
Washington values the diplomatic and battlefield support it gets from Paris, but some here worry that France is struggling to combat mounting extremism at home.
Israel`s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stirred the pot by urging French Jews to seek shelter in Israel.
US officials told AFP they would not endorse Netanyahu words but President Barack Obama`s administration nevertheless made known its concerns.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said the Paris attack was "the latest in a series of very troubling incidents in Europe and around the world that reflect a rising tide of anti-Semitism."
Representing Obama at the memorial gathering, he affirmed "our nation`s solidarity to the French people and the Jewish community in France and around the world."
The synagogue was plastered with posters reading, "Je suis Charlie," "Je suis juif" and "Je suis Francais" -- "I am Charlie. I am Jewish. I am French."Since the Paris attacks, Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, lawmakers and thousands of Americans have made gestures and sent messages of solidarity to the people of France.
But US concerns about French anti-Semitism date from before the recent attacks.
In its annual reports on religious freedom and human rights around the world, the State Department has repeatedly expressed concern -- in particular since French jihadist Mohamed Merah murdered Jewish pre-school children 2012.
"We will confront and combat hateful forces of antisemitism, intolerance and violent extremism," Julieta Valls Noyes, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, told the event.
She paid tribute to the four Jewish men killed at the supermarket -- Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab, Philippe Braham and François-Michel Saada -- on January 9 by the jihadist Amedy Coulibaly.
Speaking in French, she added: "Je suis Yohan. Je suis Philippe. Je suis Yohav. Je suis Francois Michel."
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman who is Jewish, warned "over the past few years we have seen a rise of antisemitism from the streets of Paris to the streets of Miami Beach."