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'Anti-Semitism Is Spreading Like Poison': Swastikas Litter Paris as France Sees 74% Spike


French authorities found swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti in several locations in Paris on Monday, a symptom of France's growing problem with anti-Semitism.

Vandals painted swastikas and anti-Semitic slurs on mailboxes displaying the portraits of French politician and Holocaust survivor, Simone Veil.

Veil, who died in 2017, was a leading French politician who was deported to Auschwitz when she was a teenager. She is one of only five women buried in the Pantheon, which holds the remains of France's most influential figures, including Voltaire and Victor Hugo.

More anti-Semitic graffiti was painted on a wall in the 18th arrondissement (borough) of Paris.

Frédéric Potier, a government official in charge of fighting hate crimes, said on Twitter that he notified authorities.

"Anti-Semitic tags in the heart of Paris this weekend, to the point of nausea. When the hatred of Jews overlaps with the hatred of democracy, the vocabulary of the #fascosphere [Notes:the sphere of the fascists]  is found on the walls!" he wrote.

AFP also reported Monday that a tree planted in Paris in memory of Jewish man who was tortured to death in 2006 was chopped down.

Ilan Halimi was only 23-years-old when a gang kidnapped him and held him for ransom. He was tortured for three weeks and was found next to a railway in the southern suburb of Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois.

French authorities are investigating the incident, which Potier described as "ignominious."

On Sunday, a Bagelstein bagel shop in the 4th arrondissement alerted authorities after the word "Juden" (German for Jew) was spray painted on its front window.

These attacks are a growing trend in France. On Monday, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced that anti-Semitic attacks increased by 74 percent in 2018.

"Anti-Semitism is spreading like poison," the minister said near the spot Halimi's tree was chopped down.

He said the total number of recorded anti-Semitic acts rose to 541 in 2018 from 311 in 2017.

France isn't the only country in Europe witnessing a rise in anti-Semitism.

According to a report from the UK-based Community Security Trust (CST), the UK saw a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2018

"CST recorded 1,652 antisemitic incidents in the UK in 2018, the highest total that CST has ever recorded in a single calendar year. This is an increase of 16 percent from the 1,420 antisemitic incidents recorded by CST in 2017, which was itself a record annual total," the report said.

Many Jews are considering leaving Europe altogether to find safety in Israel.

"There is concern in Hungary. There is concern in France. There is concern of a new and very ugly wave of anti-Semitism sweeping Western Europe and I think we will see more Jews coming to Israel,"  Alan Hoffman, CEO of The Jewish Agency, told CBN News last year.

"We hear of Jewish children being taunted at school, and so the family says, 'if this is what the future is going to look like, I don't think that this is what I would like to see for my children,'" Hoffman says, "and we see many many young people making a decision to leave.'"

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