Group's Report Finds Anti-Semitic Acts Soared in France in 2009

A group founded to protect France's Jewish community says anti-Semitic acts in France soared 75 percent last year — many coming as Israel pressed an offensive against Hamas in the Middle East in January.

The Jewish Community Protection Service tallied 832 anti-Semitic acts in 2009, up from 474 a year earlier. Most involved graffiti and threatening gestures; about 17 percent involved vandalism and violence.

The group said Wednesday that 354 took place in January 2009 alone, when Israel ended a three-week offensive against Palestinian militant group Hamas in response to rocket attacks from Gaza.

France is home to western Europe's largest communities of Muslims and Jews. Flare-ups of anti-Semitic acts have often coincided with Mideast violence.