Bas-Rhin: a hundred desecrated graves in a Jewish cemetery

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"Anti-Semitic inscriptions", mainly "swastikas", were found Tuesday on 107 graves at the Westhoffen Jewish Cemetery, not far from Strasbourg, said the prefecture and the Jewish consistory of Bas-Rhin. According to the chairman of the Israelite consistory of the department, Maurice Dahan, the cemetery has about 700 graves. Those that have been desecrated, stained with "swastikas" drawn in black paint, are in the old part.

This cemetery hosts several graves of the families of former President of the Council Léon Blum and the former president of the Constitutional Council, Jean-Louis Debré. He told France Bleu Alsace to feel "anger at these despicable, scandalous and revolting acts". "It's an insult to memory, an insult to those women and men who have honored France and are buried in Westhoffen," he said indignantly. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner will visit late morning on Wednesday for a "ceremony of meditation", according to the Consistory of Bas-Rhin. The public prosecutor's office in Saverne, a town northwest of Strasbourg to which Westhoffen is judicially dependent, said it had opened a preliminary investigation by a "special cell" of the gendarmerie. The number "14", considered a white supremacist symbol, has also been found on one of the graves, the same source said.

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"Jews are and make France"

The announcement of this new profanation in Alsace has provoked a cascade of indignant reactions. "The Jews are and make France. Those who attack them, even in their graves, are not worthy of the idea we have of France. Antisemitism is a crime and we will fight it, in Westhoffen as everywhere, until our dead can sleep in peace, "responded the President of the Republic in the evening. Prime Minister Philippe expressed on Twitter his "revolt" and his "disgust" and Christophe Castaner denounced "abject and disgusting acts".

The Grand Rabbi of France, Haim Korsia, said in a tweet "scandalized and horrified" while the vice president of the Council representative of Jewish institutions (Crif), Gil Taieb, denounced the "anti-Jewish hatred". "It's the consternation (…), but we do not let down, we do not resign ourselves (…) We will not leave room for these people," replied Mr. Dahan, who went on the spot with the Chief Rabbi of Strasbourg, Harold Abraham Weill. The Bas-Rhin Prefect, Jean-Luc Marx, condemned "with the utmost firmness these despicable anti-Semitic acts that strike once again the Bas-Rhin and expressed his total support to the Jewish community". "There are no words, it is a desolation and we can not understand that people are able to do that," responded the Mayor of Westhoffen, Pierre Geist, referring to an act "inhuman".

Strange fact, Westhoffen was mentioned twice, several days apart, in anti-Semitic tags: it is such tags found Tuesday morning in Schaffhausen-sur-Zorn, according to the prefecture, which led the police to surrender at Westhoffen where they discovered the profanation. Already on November 26, other antisemitic tags had been discovered on the walls of the town hall of Rohr, about fifteen kilometers from Westhoffen. According to Maurice Dahan, they indicated "cim jew westofen" (sic). For several months, Alsace has been facing an upsurge of anti-Semitic and / or racist graffiti and degradations.

"Important efforts"

In the Bas-Rhin, 96 graves of the Quatzenheim Jewish cemetery, some fifteen kilometers from Westhoffen, had been soiled with anti-Semitic tags on 19 February. Earlier, on 11 December 2018, another Jewish cemetery in Herrlisheim, north-east of Strasbourg, was targeted. The author or authors of this series of profanations were not arrested, lamented Maurice Dahan. "The gendarmerie is making significant efforts" to identify them, has insisted on his side the prefect, Jean-Luc Marx.

In mid-April, racist and anti-Semitic tags were discovered on the walls of the town hall of Dieffenthal (Bas-Rhin). A few days later, swastikas and insults were tagged on the facade of the house of a woman elected in Schiltigheim, a suburb of Strasbourg. At the beginning of March, antisemitic writings were discovered in front of a Strasbourg school and swastikas on the walls of an old synagogue in Mommenheim. Town halls and permanences of elected officials have also been the targets of degradations.


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