The French Republic has repeatedly been targeted by jihadists over the years.
In 2012 an Islamist terrorist opened fire at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish day school in Toulouse, killing a rabbi and three children, and wounding four others.
November 13, 2015 saw the single deadliest terrorist attack in French history, when Islamic State terrorists attacked multiple sites in Paris, leaving 150 people dead. The following July, a 19-ton cargo truck was deliberately driven into crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, resulting in the deaths of 86 people and the wounding of 458 others. Some 135 people were killed by jihadists in France in 2016, and 62 in 2017.
Thankfully, Islamist violence seems to have somewhat waned in subsequent years. But a new threat to French citizens, in particular Jews and Muslims, has emerged in its place: Neo-Nazi hatred.
The influence of far-right extremism has been less obvious in France, at least until July 2017, when a 23-year-old was arrested after he was found with three kitchen knives in his car, and told investigators that he was planning to kill French President Emmanuel Macron at an impending Bastille Day military parade along with “Muslims, Jews, blacks and [others].”
Then, that October, anti-terrorism police arrested 10 people over alleged plans to attack mosques and migrants. Just about a year ago, 10 members of a far-right group called Action des Forces Operationnelles (Operational Forces Action), which has cells across France, were charged in connection with an alleged plot to attack Muslims. In June 2018, authorities seized at members’ homes 14 handguns, 22 rifles, thousands of cartridges, and explosive materials, as well as a guide for “homemade napalm.”
The website of the group listed as its primary enemies “upholders of the Islamic system,” as well as “sub-Saharan Africans.” The Jewish community was listed as well, as “targets if the War of France breaks out.”
Those arrests were followed by one made last November by France’s intelligence agency, the General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI)’s, of six individuals in three separate regions across the country, for their part in another right-wing plot to kill Mr. Macron.
French rightist terrorism has even inspired violence far from Europe. The man charged with killing 51 people this past March at New Zealand mosques revealed in a rambling manifesto that it was during his travels in France that he became heavily influenced by white supremacist ideology.
And now comes word that French police have smashed a neo-Nazi cell accused of plotting attacks on Jewish and Muslim places of worship.
Last week it was disclosed that five members of the group, who reportedly named it L’Oiseau Noir (Black Bird), and who were, in the reported words of a source close to the investigation, “close in ideology to the neo-Nazi movement,” were charged between September and May over the alleged plot.
Police in the southeastern city of Grenoble first arrested a man on weapons charges in September 2018. The investigation led them to the four other suspects, two of them minors.
Anti-terrorism investigators took over the investigation in January and charged the suspects with conspiracy to murder and terror offences, including making and transporting explosive devices. Authorities seized a batch of Kalashnikovs, explosives, a Glock pistol, and a rifle at the group’s home in Grenoble. The cell was reportedly planning terrorist attacks against several targets, including the annual dinner of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) and Muslim places of worship.
The shift in violent anti-social and anti-Jewish sentiment in France from Islamist-inspired plottings to white supremacy groups is being taken seriously in that country, as well it should be. It is also, though, worth our attention.
Throughout history, our people has been targeted for being dedicated to Torah, and for the attitudes of Jewish secularists; for being supporters of Communism, or supporters of capitalism; for being elitist or for being defenders of the common man, for being allies of disadvantaged groups or for being racists. “The Jews” are vilified of late in different circles for being “Zionists” or for being globalists. All that matters in the end, of course, to those who wish to hate Jews, is that we are Jews.
The threat of radical Islamism hasn’t disappeared, unfortunately. It has now been joined, in France and elsewhere, by a very serious threat posed by the far right. Muslims and Jews today have something in common — a mutual enemy — and would be wise to see one another as allies in the struggle against it.