Escalating attacks on French Jews led a top leader in the community to urge other Jews against wearing skullcaps “until better days,” AFP reported Tuesday.
The move is an “exceptional decision,” said Zvi Ammar, president of the Marseille Israelite Consistory.
“Life is more sacred than anything else,” Ammar told AFP. “We are now forced to hide a little bit.”
He said the move made him “sick to the stomach.”
"We are now forced to hide a little bit."
- Zvi Ammar
“Unfortunately for us, we are targeted,” Ammar said. “As soon as we are identified as Jewish we can be assaulted and even risk death.”
France's chief rabbi, Haim Korsia, rejected the idea.
"We should not give an inch," he told AFP. "We should continue wearing the kippa."
The call to remove skullcaps comes a day after a Marseille teacher was attacked with a machete by a Kurdish teen who claimed to be acting in the name of ISIS. The teacher was hurt, but survived.
Since the start of 2015, France has become a frequent target of ISIS terrorists, and Jews have been common targets. The same day as the Jan. 7, 2015 attack on the Charli Hebdo satirical newspaper, four Jews were slaughtered in a kosher supermarket in Paris.
Smaller incidents have also occurred during the past few months, three of them in Marseille alone: In October, three Jews were assaulted near a synagogue; In November, a man shouting support for ISIS stabbed a Jewish teacher; and another teacher was attacked on Monday.
Ammar’s plea also comes the same day a 73-year-old local French Jewish politician was found stabbed to death in his apartment, according to the Jerusalem Post, which cited foreign language press reports from France. No terror link has been established yet in that case.
Alain Ghozland was found dead Tuesday morning. His brother called police when Ghozland did not show up to their synagogue and, though the death is thought to be a homicide, police have no leads in the investigation, the Post reported, citing L’Express. Authorities are awaiting the results of an autopsy.
Police reportedly found Ghozland’s home ransacked, but French Radio Station Europe 1 said his front door did not show signs of a break-in, according to the Times of Israel.
France’s Jewish community numbers between 500,000 and 600,000 and is the largest in Europe, according to AFP. A spokesman for Israel’s immigration ministry told AFP about 8,000 French Jews had left France for Israel in the past year alone.