Predictably, it inspired a barrage of anti-semitic messages, with the most popular tweet being “the only good Jew is a dead Jew.” The French daily ‘Le Monde’ termed the Twitter explosion a competition of anti-Semitic jokes and hatred.
WJC On Monday, the most popular hashtag in France was ‘LaRafle’, meaning “the roundup”. ‘La Rafle’ was the title of a 2010 film about the Holocaust-era deportation of French Jews. It had been aired the previous day by the television channel TF1. Twitter defined the LaRafle hashtag as “related to UnBonJuif.” Many tweets containing the LaRafle hashtag were anti-Semitic, and some users denied the Holocaust.
One Twitter account registered to the username ‘Marcel Leblanc’ posted a picture of an emaciated Jewish woman taken in a Nazi concentration camp as his or her interpretation of what “a good Jew” meant. Countless others tweeted that “a good Jew is a dead Jew.”
Michel Zerbib, director the news department of Radio J, France’s largest Jewish radio station, told the news agency JTA that anti-Semitic tweeting matches were “a new but unsurprising development, as the virtual space releases many of the inhibitions that limit anti-Semitic speech in the public sphere.”
The statements came as French authorities remain on alert after a sweep this month that left one man dead and several others in detention on suspicion of being involved in the bombing of a Jewish shop or of planning other anti-Semitic attacks. President François Hollande vowed after the arrests to step up security measures for the Jewish community in France, the largest in Europe.
France’s SPCJ Jewish security watchdog said last week that anti-Semitic acts surged by 45 percent in the first eight months of this year and were given new impetus by deadly attacks in March by Islamic radical Mohamed Merah. Merah went on a shooting rampage in and around the southern city of Toulouse, killing a rabbi, three Jewish children and three French paratroopers before being shot dead in a police siege.