Global Rallies Sparked by War Include Holocaust Survivors

Paris gathering raises concern about rising antisemitism
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 18, 2023 4:40 PM CST
Rallies Call for Cease-Fire, End to Antisemitism
Police officers remove pro-Palestinian protesters that took part in a sit-in demonstration Saturday at Waterloo Station in London calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.   (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP)

Survivors of Nazi atrocities joined young Jewish activists outside the Paris Holocaust memorial on Saturday to sound the alarm about resurgent antisemitic hate speech, graffiti, and abuse linked to the Israel-Hamas war. Thousands of pro-Palestinian and left-wing activists rallied in Paris and around Britain on Saturday to call for a cease-fire, the latest of several such protests in major cities around the world since the war began, the AP reports. France is home to the largest Jewish population outside Israel and the US, as well as western Europe's largest Muslim population. The war has reopened the doors to anti-Jewish sentiment in a country whose wartime collaboration with the Nazis left deep scars.

Esther Senot, 96, said the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7 stirred up her memories of World War II. "Massacres like that, I have lived through," she said at the Paris memorial. "I saw people die in front of me." Her sister was among them. "They brought her to the gas chamber in front of my eyes," she said. Most of Senot's family members were killed. She survived 17 months in Auschwitz-Birkenau and other death camps and made it back to France at age 17, weighing just 70 pounds. Senot spoke at an event organized by Jewish youth organization Hachomer Hatzai, at which teenage activists drew parallels between this era and the leadup to World War II. They held a sign saying, "We will not let history repeat itself."

France's Interior Ministry said this week that 1,762 antisemitic acts have been reported this year, as well as 131 anti-Muslim acts and 564 anti-Christian acts. Half of the antisemitic acts involve graffiti, posters, or protest banners bearing Nazi symbols or violent anti-Jewish messages, per the AP. They also include physical attacks on people and Jewish sites, and online threats. Most were registered after the Hamas attack on Israel, the ministry said. Serge Klarsfeld, a renowned Nazi hunter, noted that anger at the Israeli government's actions often gets mixed with anti-Jewish sentiment. Like France and some other countries, Britain has seen protests to demand a cease-fire each weekend since the war began. Organizers from Palestinian organizations and left-wing groups said rallies and marches were held in dozens of towns and cities across the UK on Saturday.

(More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.