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A Battle for Survival, the Art of Tolerant Coexistence and a House Hunt in the Suburbs

The Burdens of Brotherhood: Jews and Muslims from North Africa to France by Ethan B. Katz https://www.amazon.com/Burdens-Brotherhood-Muslims-Africa-France/dp/0674088689

ANTISEMITISM IN FRANCE (AND JUST ABOUT EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD)

I’d love to ignore the subject, but it’s impossible to: antisemitism in France.

One cannot address the subject of antisemitism in France without first addressing antisemitism anywhere in the world, then one can focus on France if that’s what’s important to you…as it is to me.

I’m one of the fortunate ones who has never experienced it anywhere…personally. That certainly doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, neither in front of me, nor behind my back. It very much does.

The first time I encountered antisemitism was by an American named David Duke who is a Louisiana politician and proclaimed white supremacist, antisemitic conspiracy theorist, and former grand wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1989 to 1992 for the Republican Party, representing my mother’s own district. In 2013, the Anti-Defamation League called Duke “perhaps America’s most well-known racist and anti-Semite.”

The rise and fall of David Duke cover

So, there it was in my own backyard bigger than life. We ignored him and thought it, on a larger scale, could never happen in Then in the last decade, the white supremacists were let out of the bag. Duke is back and he’s having a field day on his website with anti-Israel rhetoric. I refuse to repeat any of his “garbage” here—you just have to go see it for yourself if you want to get informed (for me, nauseated).

Now, we’re facing the horrific news on a daily basis of the lives being lost as a result of the current Isarel-Hamas conflict…on both sides. It’s hard to take and it’s hard to fully understand. The basic facts of the current conflict are simple (while the history is very complicated and hard for just about anyone to fully grasp): October 7th Hamas launched an unprecedented multi-faceted and sustained assault on Israel from the Gaza Strip, on the 50th Anniversary of the Yom Kippur War; four hours after, Israel began a counterattack launching retaliatory strikes in Gaza and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that the country was “at war;” civilians were taken hostage and many die in the now ongoing conflict.

Who is to blame for these lives has become a finger-pointing exercise.

I condone none of it. I am a pacifist who believes that war is fruitless and is waged by men for the sake of protecting their territory and their egos. Women are not generally the perpetrators of war, since women give life, not take it, nor are they currently in charge of the world. (Don’t I wish they were?)

Read A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle, if you want to understand how we can eliminate war in the world…if we can just get our egos out of the middle, but I will leave this discussion for another time…

The fallout from the Israel-Hamas conflict is felt everywhere all over the world, including France. Those who will suffer most will ultimately be the Jews, even if not Israelis, even if they have no relationship to the cause nor even to their native religion, which they may or may not even follow. Jews have served as the world’s primary scapegoats—those who are irrationally blamed for societal problems—for over two thousand years. It doesn’t matter that this is a political and territorial conflict—it becomes a religious one, regardless of the top level reasons.

Do we ever expect that to end? Realistically, no. It is “the cross we bear.”

Funny I chose to use this term. In essence, it alludes to the historical method of execution through crucifixion, where individuals were affixed to substantial wooden crosses and left to perish. More specifically, it relates to the act of Jesus of Nazareth carrying the cross, a pivotal figure in Christianity, who as we know was Jewish. Over time, “a cross to bear” has evolved to signify a burdensome hardship that someone must endure.

A pop-up from the Anti-Defamation League website

A pop-up from the Anti-Defamation League website

There are numerous articles and TV news stories about the surge of acts of antisemitism since the Hamas assault on Israel, particularly in Europe and here in France. Homes and businesses in the 14th arrondissement here in Paris were marked by Stars of David with the idea that they could become targets for some kind of violence. But perhaps it’s just a scare tactic. Sadly, it works. I must admit that I am frightened by it.

One thing I’d like to remind everyone of is how the media, and this Nouvellettre® included, fuels the fire. There were 65 stars painted on buildings in one district. The incident made international news from here to the U.S. to Asia and around the globe. It’s not the only incident, and it’s not to be taken lightly, but let’s all take a deep breath and get a perspective.

France immediately responded by investigating the despicable acts and promising to punish the perpetrators. The police have promised that “we will protect you [the Jews], absolutely, completely, day and night.” Since October 7th, 425 arrests have been made in connection with these incidents. “It is the duty of the republic to protect all the Jews of France,” Elisabeth Borne, the Prime Minister of France said, adding that those guilty should be arrested and convicted. BTW, she is the child of an Auschwitz survivor, herself. This figure was reported last Wednesday, so it’s certain that even more arrests have been made.

Interestingly enough, the 19th arrondissement in Paris is a neighborhood that has a long history of Jews and Muslims living peacefully side-by-side for at least the past three decades. It is a hub for the Lubavitch movement, with a predominantly Sephardic following. The district boasts of the highest concentration of synagogues (30) and Jewish schools in Paris. A significant portion of the Jews were originally immigrants who came from predominantly Muslim countries. In addition, the 19th arrondissement is home to around a dozen Muslim places of worship, reflecting the rich tapestry of religious and cultural diversity within the district. Even so, their Jewish residents are feeling the danger and some merchants and residents are resorting to hiding their kippahs (skull caps) under their hats.

Want to know more about the 19th? Here are a couple of interesting articles to read about it:

Jews and Muslims in the 19th arrondissement of Paris: face to face, or side by side?

"Jews and Muslims in the 19th arrondissement of Paris: face to face, or side by side?" by Nonna Mayer
The Art of Tolerant Coexistence

The Art of Tolerant Coexistence

So, what’s my point? The point is that this is yet another battle for survival. I’ve been watching the Netflix series, “Life on Our Planet,” “the incredible story of life’s epic, four-billion-year journey on Earth comes alive in this series from Steven Spielberg and the team behind ‘Our Planet.’” It reminds me that we humans are no better than the beasts which occupied our earth millions of years ago.

Life on Our Planet meme

Have we learned nothing?

HUNTING FOR HOMES IN THE “BANLIEUE” (SUBURBS)

Today is the last day of filming of a House Hunters International episode, this time in the suburbs of Paris. Without giving away too much, this episode involves a young couple from Nashville, Tennessee with an almost two-year-old named Anya, who has moved to Paris—with their two German Shepherds—for a plum job N’Toia was offered at the Institut Pasteur. She’s eight months pregnant and ready to burst.

Husband, Daniel, is along for the ride. It’s all a big shock to move to France, something they never dreamed would happen in a million years…but it did. And here they are, trying to find a home or apartment that will accommodate them, the kids and the dogs…on a modest budget.

N'Toia and Daniel with Adrian during the house hunt, photo by Joe Saunders

N’Toia and Daniel with Adrian during the house hunt, photo by Joe Saunders

The suburbs seem to offer the most for them, as long as the commute to work is reasonable. That’s what we’re going to find out in the episode. And in the process. I’m learning a lot about parts of Paris not usually on my route. In fact, stay tuned for Thursday’s French Property Insider, when I write all about the pros and cons of “banlieue” living.

Note: It takes about six months before the episode will air, but we’ll be sure to let you know all about it.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds with Anya during the House Hunters International filmingAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

Adrian with Anya during the House Hunters International filming

P.S. Here’s your chance to participate in a fundraiser for the Alliance Française USA Network—an online, French-themed auction. It’s now open for bidding through November 15, 2023! Visit their website for more information.

P.P.S. We have filmed over 50 episodes of House Hunters International! Newer episodes frequently re-air, so we work to keep you informed when they’ll air. You can also review all the episodes and see if they’ll be shown again by going to our HHI page.

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1 Comment

  1. Logue Jeannette on November 7, 2023 at 1:17 am

    I deeply appreciate this thoughtful article. Thank you, Adrian.

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