Israeli minister tells French Jews to 'come home' after vandalism

Dozens of graves have been smeared with swastikas at a Jewish cemetery in the French village of Quatzenheim.

    French President Emmanuel Macron looks at a grave vandalised with a swastika during a visit with Quatzenheim's deputy mayor Josette Prim (R) at the Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim [Frederick Florin/Reuters]
    French President Emmanuel Macron looks at a grave vandalised with a swastika during a visit with Quatzenheim's deputy mayor Josette Prim (R) at the Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim [Frederick Florin/Reuters]

    Israeli Immigration Minister Yoav Gallant has called on French Jews to "come home" to Israel following the anti-Semitic vandalism of a cemetery in eastern France.

    "The desecration of the Jewish cemetery in France conjures images of dark times in the history of the Jewish people," Gallant said in a statement on Tuesday.

    "Last week, I visited the Jewish community in Paris, which is under an anti-Semitic attack and in the process of assimilation. I firmly condemn the anti-Semitism in France and call on the Jews - come home; immigrate to Israel."

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    Around 80 graves were discovered to have been daubed with swastikas at a Jewish cemetery in the village of Quatzenheim, close to the border with Germany in the Alsace region.

    Photos show the Nazi symbols in blue spray-painted on the damaged graves, one of which bears the words "Elsassisches Schwarzen Wolfe" ("Black Alsatian Wolves"), a separatist group with links to neo-Nazis in the 1970s.

    The top security official for the region, Jean-Luc Marx, condemned "in the strongest possible terms this awful anti-Semitic act and sends his complete support to the Jewish community which has been targeted again," the statement added.

    Never-ending 'shock'

    Last year, French police recorded a 74 percent surge in reported anti-Jewish offences, causing alarm in a country that is home to the biggest Jewish population in Europe.

    "It just doesn't stop, it's shock after shock," Maurice Dahan, the regional head of France's main Jewish institution, the Israelite Central Consistory of France, told AFP after the attack in Alsace.

    Rallies are planned in Paris and other French cities on Tuesday to denounce a flare-up of anti-Semitic vandalism in recent weeks, often coinciding with "yellow vest" anti-government demonstrations.

    Politicians on both the right and left have urged massive participation after a prominent French writer was the target of an anti-Semitic tirade by a protester in Paris on Saturday.

    Last year, 2,679 Jews from France immigrated to Israel, according to Gallant's ministry.

    SOURCE: News agencies