In the aftermath of the twin terror attacks in Paris last month, as four Jews killed at a kosher store lay among the dead, Jewish religious leaders from the UK warned against talk of an exodus.
“Contrary to a dangerous and rapidly developing narrative,” said Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, “French Jews are not clambering to leave.”
The community she met was “determined to carry on, resilient and brave”.
If French Jews are still not clambering to leave after Tuesday, when a man armed with a knife attacked guards outside a Jewish community centre in Nice, then they’ll need both bravery and resilience in abundance.
This is the third terror attack against Jews in France in as many years and the second in as many months.
Anxiety levels are high across Europe. Ever-present is the link to Israel, the actions of which are seen as a “cause” of hatred. But as Melanie Phillips pointed out after Paris: “The Muslim world doesn’t hate the Jews because of Israel. It hates Israel because of the Jews.”
New CST figures from the UK show that the “Israel factor” has had an effect here, too, with a record number of anti-Semitic “incidents,” the vast majority of which were examples of online hate. Nevertheless, it shows a public growing restless, alongside radical Islamists growing increasingly bold.
This week Islamic State was shown not only to have burned a Jordanian pilot alive, but to have filmed it, released it and gloried in it.
This is the threat we face: a toxic mix of religious fanaticism, fantasising about life without “infidels”.
From their base in the mountains of Afghanistan, to the remnants of Syria and Iraq, to large swathes of central Africa controlled by Boko Haram, al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, they seek to realise this dream.
Soon we’ll see whether “Je Suis Charlie” and “Je Suis Juif” meant something other than sympathy. Let’s hope it spelled out determination. Because this terror will continue.
Agreeing peace between Israel and the Palestinians will not cure it. Doubling troop numbers on the streets will not secure safety. Spies will not identify, track and thwart every would-be assailant.
Terror will continue to come from the shadows, from the Middle East’s no-man’s land, via the banlieues (French suburbs).
Talk of an exodus is not “dangerous,” but it is premature.
Most French Jews will not leave, and this week – more than ever – it’s important they know we stand with them.
They are only a Eurostar journey away, and the world of business and trade has already built ready-made links between London and Paris.
The opportunity is there.
It is time for the leaders of British Jewry to cross the Channel to show support – and not just for televised funerals and marches.