More Anti-Semitic Attacks in France
MARSEILLE, France – A pavilion in a Jewish cemetery was burned to the ground and assailants threw a fire bomb at a synagogue in new attacks on Jewish targets Tuesday, even as hundreds of families held Passover prayers at another charred synagogue attacked here over the weekend.
In the latest attack Tuesday, assailants threw a Molotov cocktail at a Marseille synagogue despite two police guards having been posted at there as part of a new government effort to stem a recent wave of anti-Semitic violence in France.
The Molotov cocktail landed only a few yards from the officers. No one was injured and the synagogue was not damaged. The two assailants got away.
The incidents came as hundreds of families took part in an evening Passover ceremony across town beside the charred remains of the Or Aviv synagogue, which burned down after a nighttime attack on Sunday.
``This is unacceptable. I'm now expecting a synagogue to burn every night,'' Clement Yana, regional leader of the Representative Council of French Jewish Groups, told The Associated Press.
After the Sunday attack, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin pleaded Tuesday that the violence in the Middle East not be allowed to bleed over into France. Israel has launched a large-scale invasion of Palestinian towns in the West Bank after a string of suicide bombings.
Arsonists struck a pavilion Tuesday in a Jewish cemetery in the eastern French town of Schiltigheim, causing the pavilion's roof to collapse and destroying most of its walls, police said. A flammable liquid was also thrown at the town's synagogue Tuesday, LCI television reported.
In what appeared to be a direct response, pro-Israeli slogans were sprayed across the windows of an Arab-owned photocopy shop in nearby Strasbourg on Tuesday, city officials said. ``Warning: Israel will win'' read one message signed by Betar, a Zionist youth group.
Meanwhile, German police said they were investigating an assault on two young Orthodox Jews from New York in downtown Berlin on Sunday night for possible links to Israeli-Palestinian strife.
The two 21-year-olds said they were asked whether they were Jewish by a group of seven or eight youths, and one of the Americans was attacked when he answered yes, police said. The victim, who was not identified by police, was beaten and kicked to the floor. He was treated in hospital for facial injuries.
The ``passions that flare up in the Middle East must not flare up here,'' Jospin said. ``Even if we have the largest Jewish community in Europe and one of the largest Arab-Muslim communities on the European continent, we must not import this violence.''
Jospin told RTL radio that it was ``extremely difficult'' to guarantee permanent security around Jewish sites.
He pointed out that a police patrol had passed by Or Aviv synagogue in the southern city of Marseille only an hour before arsonists attacked it. The temple was left a blackened heap of wood and metal. The perpetrators in the attacks have not been identified.
In another sign of Mideast tensions echoing here, dozens of pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian demonstrators scuffled briefly at Paris' Orly airport as they awaited the return of militant farmer Jose Bove from Israel.
Bove and 10 other French activists were deported from Israel after they visited Yasser Arafat in the Ramallah offices where the Palestinian leader is confined by Israeli troops and protested the invasion of the West Bank town launched by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
At Orly airport, rival demonstrators threw eggs at each other, shouting ``Killer Arafat!'' or ``Killer Sharon!'' and coming to blows, before police separated them.
Outside Or Aviv synagogue, hundreds of families from the congregation gathered Tuesday morning and erected a tent in the parking lot for prayers to mark the end of the Passover holiday later in the day. They vowed to rebuild their synagogue.
``A blow was delivered against us, but it is not a mortal blow,'' said Claude Guedj, 40, a member of the congregation. ``The Jewish people have always been under pressure, we are on our knees but we are going to get up again,'' he said.
Community members also started repainting the stucco walls around the temple, removing graffiti that hailed Osama bin Laden, the chief suspect in the Sept. 11 terror strikes in the United States.