Fight Against Anti-Semitism is 'National Cause' in France

Francis Levy, head of the North Alsacian Jewish community, inspects tombstones desecrated by vandals with Nazi swastikas in the Jewish Cemetery of Cronenbourg near Strasbourg. Vincent Kessler/REUTERS

The fight against anti-Semitism has to become a "national cause" in France, the country's interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Sunday. The statement comes after a Jewish couple were attacked in their suburban Paris home by robbers last week.

The assailants assaulted the man and raped the women and the couple reported their attackers told them they were targeted because they were Jewish.

During a rally in the Parisian suburb of Creteil, where the attack took place, Cazeneuve said anti-Semitic acts and threats have more than doubled in the past 10 months and called for "all parties concerned" to tackle anti-Semitism. According to the French Service for Protection of the Jewish Community, violent attacks against Jews in France increased by 55% in the first three months of this year alone.

"The Republic will defend you with all its force because, without you, it would no longer be the Republic," Cazeneuve said

The attack, described by French president Francois Hollande as "unbearable", took place in the middle of the day on Monday, when three armed assailant stormed the young couple's flat as they were having lunch.

The attackers raped the 19-year-old female victim before grabbing jewelry, mobile phones and bank cards. One of the assailants reportedly told the male victim, 21, that the the attack was no coincidence, saying: "You Jews, you have money".

France has the third highest Jewish population in the world, after Israel and the US, with approximately 600,000 living in the country.

However, in a mass exodus from the country, 2,200 Jews left France in the first half of this year, a marked difference to the number who left in 2013 when it was fewer than 600.

Since the summer there's been a huge spike in anti-semitic acts across Europe, partly ignited by the Gaza crisis, which has led to some Jewish minorities fleeing to Israel.

These anti-Israel protests often escalated into violence, with protesters chanting against Judaism and attacking kosher shops as well as Jewish places of worship.

At least eight synagogues were targeted in anti-Semitic attack in France over the summer, while Jewish businesses in Berlin, including kosher grocery and pharmacy shops were vandalised.

In November a 70-year-old Jewish man, also a resident of the Parisian suburb of Creteil, was badly beaten by attackers who referred to the fact he was Jewish during the assault.

Earlier in the year a lone gunman killed four Jews inside the Jewish museum in the Belgian capital, Brussels.

Mark Gardner from the Jewish Community Security Trust (CST) told Newsweek that this latest attack has prompted more discourse about the increased aggression against Jews in France.

"This is the latest in a series of statements from leading French politicians and it shows the increasing gravity of the situation, with French Jews facing a real crisis of confidence in what the present and future hold for them. "

Gardner added that the CST had also recorded a 400% increase in anti-Semitic acts in Britain during this summer, the highest since 1984, leading to many British Jews admitting they feel more intimidated than ever.

"This summer, many British Jews stated that they had never felt under such pressures. The demands for CST's services increased significantly, ranging from security at schools, to having hate messages removed from social media," Gardner said.

"We know the scale of the problem and it is sadly obvious that Jewish communities need to take long term security measures against it," he added.