Suzanne Fields

Despite all this, questions, as the clich goes, remain about France and the Jews, beginning with the French attitude toward Israel. The ambassador insists that the riots in the Muslim suburbs of Paris were the result of a "subculture of gangs rather than Islamist jihad," where frustrated young men without jobs turn violent in the bleak neighborhoods of high-rise housing projects. "That's why we have to put the emphasis on improving the social conditions -- schools, jobs, better housing -- and hopefully all this will trigger better absorption in the social fabric of France of this minority."

But these Muslim ghettos, argues David Pryce-Jones in his book "Betrayal: France, the Arabs, and the Jews," are "a seedbed for Islamist jihad." He observes how a Muslim population of 6 million drives a French anti-Israel policy that is inevitably expressed against individual Jews in a country where the Muslims outnumber Jews by 6 to 1.

"Commitment to the Palestinians in their conflict with Israel," he writes, "incites the growing underclass of Arabs first to resent Jews, and then to force into the public arena the contradiction whereby the French state claims to be protecting Jews at home while doing what it can do to oppose Jews in Israel."

Ilan Halimi, a French Jew, was kidnapped and tortured last year by a gang that called themselves "the Barbarians," made up mostly of violently radical Muslims. The Barbarians, now in jail awaiting trial, say they "hate" Jews and kidnapped M. Halimi because they thought all Jews were rich. This week Ilan Halimi's family will fly to Israel with his body to bury it in a Jewish cemetery in Jerusalem. The family leaves behind a controversy in which many Frenchmen insist the murder had nothing to do with his being Jewish, that the government labeled it an anti-Semitic crime to placate Jews.

After a Jewish school was torched outside of Paris, President Jacques Chirac belatedly acknowledged French anti-Semitism: "An attack against a French Jew is an attack against France." And, he might have added, an attack against the good name of Marianne.

Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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