Le Raincy (France) (AFP) – When Alain Benhamou walked into his apartment near Paris in July 2015 and saw the words “dirty Jew” scrawled on the wall, he knew it was time to leave.
It was his second such break-in in less than three months and the 71-year-old no longer felt welcome in Bondy, a Parisian suburb he had called home for more than 40 years.
“Until the years 2000-2005, the town was nice and quiet, with 250 to 300 Jewish families and synagogues full on the Sabbath,” Benhamou says.
“Now, only about a hundred Jewish families remain.”
Benhamou is part of a growing number of French Jews who have effectively become internal refugees, fleeing insecurity and seeking protection in numbers in an atmosphere they say is increasingly hostile, and often expressed in relation to conflict in the Middle East.
He moved a few miles south to Villemomble, where there is a larger and more established Jewish community. But others have fled France altogether. A record 8,000 or so French Jews moved to Israel in 2015 alone, according to Israeli figures, in the year that a jihadist gunman linked to the Charlie Hebdo newspaper attackers killed four Jews in a kosher supermarket.