Jødiske organisasjoner i Frankrike mister statlig støtte fordi myndighetene skal bekjempe religiøs ekstremisme, les: islamske, og dermed skjærer alle over en kam.
En fotballklubb i Marseille Maccabi France mistet nylig støtten fordi myndighetene sa de var religiøse. Det er det rene sprøyt, svarer klubben. Vi driver kun med sekulære aktiviteter, og er åpen for alle. Likevel forlangte lokale myndigheter at det måtte ikke-jøder inn i styret.
Andre organisasjoner får beskjed om å fjerne ord som indikerer deres jødiskhet fra navnet. Dette reagerer flere jøder på. Det minner dem om andre tider.
Målet er å ramme islamistiske grupper, men samtidig rammer man jødiske, og kanskje det er en bonus i at de tvinges til å ligge lavere? Da blir de mindre synlige og kanskje mindre utsatt for angrep? Slik kan myndighetene tenke.
French Jewish organizations have long relied on public assistance to finance their core operations. But eight groups in the southern French province of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur have been informed that they will not receive any public financing in 2013, according to the CRIF, the umbrella group representing French Jewish communities. In each of the last two years, the groups received a total of $180,000 annually in public subsidies.
Local officials would say little about why the Jewish groups are being denied public support. Gerard-Jose Mattei, a spokesman for the president of the PACA regional council, told JTA only that funding would be given to “organizations that are not religious in essence.”
But to local Jewish leaders, concerns about church-state separation are a red herring. Only Muslim and Jewish groups appear to be affected by the government’s cutbacks, with local Catholic charities that consume a far larger proportion of public support seemingly unaffected. Maccabi and other groups, the Jewish leaders say, are collateral damage in the government’s wider effort to counter Muslim extremism and rein in the religious sectarianism that has helped fuel the rise of the French right.
That effort was declared policy under former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose center-right government banned face covering in public spaces, among other controversial laws, but gained new impetus after a Muslim radical murdered four Jews in Toulouse in March. The government of current President Francois Hollande has since introduced new anti-jihadist legislation, deported some Muslim clerics and shaken up France’s domestic intelligence agency.
Michele Teboul, head of the local CRIF branch, says Jewish interests and freedoms are routinely affected by France’s response to Muslim extremism.
“We’ve seen this in attempts to ban halal slaughter and circumcision, and in how the debate on burkas morphed to suddenly include kippahs,” she said. “It is unjustified, as we have always known how to integrate while retaining our own identity.”
Some 120,000 Jews live in the Marseille region. Besides Maccabi, the affected Jewish groups include the local office of the CRIF; the Marseille Consistoire, which administers religious services; the Bnei Akiva youth movement; and Baskets for Shabbat, a Jewish charity. CRIF’s national president, Richard Prasquier, said the denial of subsidies for Jewish groups was “troubling” but currently limited to the Marseille region.
Jødiske organisasjoner registrerer oppgitt at religion og religiøs tilhørighet ikke ser ut til å være noe problem for katolske organisasjoner.
Franske jøder føler seg urettferdig behandlet. De har integrert seg og greid å bevare sin kultur. Nå får de beskjed om å være mindre synlige og mindre religiøse. Myndighetene bør kunne være mer nyanserte, mener de.
Bernard Benguigui, vice president of Baskets for Shabbat, which distributes food each week to several hundred recipients from a dispensary behind Marseille’s Great Synagogue, said he was told that he could continue to receive government funding if he changed his organization’s name to one without “a Jewish connotation.”
«I refused this proposal because government orders to change Jewish names remind me of dark periods,” Benguigui said.
Still, to some in the Jewish community, the dilemma is fundamentally not one of church-state separation but of using an overly blunt remedy to a problem that requires a more nuanced approach.
“As with other associations that endanger the fabric of society, the solution to depriving hotbeds of Muslim extremism of their funds isn’t blanket measures because those will hurt positive and neutral forces,” said Joel Rubinfeld, the co-chair of the European Jewish Parliament. “What’s needed is a case-by-case analysis and decision.”