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A rioter throws a projectile at French police in Sarcelles, a suburb north of Paris, on July 20. / Pierre Andrieu, AFP/Getty Images

BERLIN - Four weeks of fighting between Hamas militants and Israel fueled a rise in anti-Semitism outbursts across Europe, ranging from violent attacks to chants of "Deaths to the Jews" at anti-Israel demonstrations.

In Germany and other European countries - especially France, which has a large Jewish and Muslim population - Jews have been attacked on the street, synagogues have been bombed, Jewish groups have received hate mail and anti-Semitic slogans have been spray-painted on buildings.

Three consecutive weekends of pro-Palestinian demonstrations turned into anti-Semitic attacks across France, said Roger Cukierman, president of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions. "Eight synagogues have been attacked, as well as Jewish protesters," he said.


"This is the worst violence we have had in 15 years," he said. "The Palestinian cause has created a new wave of anti-Semitism. Historically in France, anti-Semitism has been on an individual level, but now it is on a mass level, this is a new phenomenon."

In Turkey - a mostly Muslim nation - Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, who is running for president, has accused Israel of aggression similar to that of Adolf Hitler.

The incidents span the continent, according to the Anti-Defamation League based in Washington, which has documented several examples in the past two weeks:

?In Antwerp, Belgium, a doctor refused to treat a Jewish woman, telling her son to "send her to Gaza for a few hours, then she'll get rid of the pain."

?In Nice, France, two men insulted Jews near a synagogue at night, then returned in the early morning hours with iron bars, breaking a glass door and a surveillance camera.

?In Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, a man threatened to kill 30 Jews in the city if his family in Gaza was harmed.

?In Rome, anti-Semitic graffiti and fliers were found on stops and walls in the city's historic Jewish neighborhood.

?In Manchester, England, occupants in a group of cars sho??uted and swore at Jewish pedestrians, yelling, "Heil Hitler."

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve officially banned pro-Palestinian protests, threatened fines and shut down metro stations in areas where demonstrations were anticipated, but that has not deterred protesters.

A demonstration in Sarcelles, 19 miles from Paris, quickly turned volatile last month when protesters set cars aflame, smashed the windows of Jewish shops and threw Molotov cocktails at two synagogues.

"The attacks against the synagogues of Sarcelles and Roquette were especially shocking," Cukierman said. "Sarcelles is a symbol. Jews, Muslims and Christians of the popular classes live there together. When it was attacked, it was an attack against the harmony that had been created between the different cultures."

Anti-Semitic hate speech and attacks in Germany have left some Jews wondering whether they are welcome.

"The brutal attacks and shocking anti-Semitic incidents throughout Europe worry me a lot," said Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. "Still, I believe that Jewish life in Europe is meant to be. After the Shoa (Holocaust), we established a whole new Jewish future in Europe. We cannot and will not allow anti-Semites to destroy what we are longing for."

More than 104,000 people had registered themselves as part of the German Jewish community by 2010, according to the Federal Statistics Office.

Because of Germany's Holocaust legacy, special security is provided to Jewish businesses and institutions. Jewish residents say it is necessary to be careful, even at the best of times.

"In Germany, I'm often confronted with the attitude that's between intolerance and indifference," said Giulia Pines Kersthold, 29, a New Yorker who has lived in Berlin for six years. "In New York, it's totally normal to be Jewish. If I were to be more obvious with my Jewishness (in Germany), I would be a lot more conscious of my actions, be a lot more careful where I walk, etc."

Analysts say anti-Semitism has always festered beneath the surface in post-World War II Germany. The wave of demonstrations and debate over Israel's ground offensive in the Gaza strip has allowed racism to rear its head once again.

"One can't say it is something new that has come from nothing," said Helgard Kramer, a professor of sociology specializing in anti-Semitism at Berlin's Free University.

Despite concerns over such incidents, Europeans Jews say they will not be driven out of their homelands.

"Jewish life in Germany is safe, and no one will ever be able to intimidate us," Graumann said. "The Jewish community here is surely strong enough to cope with these challenges. This is the time to stand our ground, to hold our heads up high and to speak out loud for our own interests - while showing our pride of being Jews in Europe."

Contributing: Katharine Lackey in McLean, Va.



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: Anti-Semitism flares in Europe amid Gaza war

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