Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

12 Sivan 5766 - June 8, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Antisemitic Black Organization Seeds Fear in Paris' Jewish Quarter — French Minister Says, "We will defend the Jews."

By Arnon Yaffeh, Paris

"Here we're not in Palestine, we will crush you Jews, we will smash in your heads," called out a band of about 30 blacks in Paris' Jewish quarter last week. Clad in black battle garb the members of the antisemitic gang held a military parade on Rue des Rosiers, forcing Jewish store owners in the old Jewish neighborhood to shut tight their storefronts and hide.

Experts on antisemitic organizations said the marchers belonged to Tribu Ka, whose members serve as bodyguards for comedian and instigator Dieudonne Mbala Mbala and are close to Louis Farakhan's Nation of Islam. Their appearance and aggressiveness instilled fear as they marched, armed with knives and metal rods and shouting antisemitic slurs.

Not a single policeman was to be seen among the flocks of policemen usually roaming Paris streets and issuing parking tickets. The narrow Rue des Rosiers was packed with people at the time and the blacks pressed them up against the walls. Shoppers and passersby fled to side streets. Locals felt sure they had come to launch a pogrom, but apparently their objective was just a show of force and to intimidate.

Neighborhood residents are already exhausted by the endless construction work the municipality has been carrying out on the street. Nearby streets have been closed to parking, which has led many Jewish merchants to close their businesses and leave the Jewish quarter, to be replaced by clothing boutiques.

The following day, the head of the Jewish quarter and the Deputy Mayor visited Rue des Rosiers to allay merchants' concerns. The Deputy Mayor trudged through mud caused by the construction work but did not succeed in calming anyone.

"It lasted only 15 minutes, but we felt so frightened time seemed to stand still," one store owner told me. "The blacks looked like trained soldiers and as disciplined as robots. Their commander walked in the middle between two rows. It looked as if they had come to pick a fight. One of them took pictures of the street and of themselves. `Where are the Beitar members? Where are the JDL members? We swore we would break them,' they shouted."

Young Jews from the suburbs who usually stand aimlessly along the sides of the street on Sundays did not come. One week earlier blacks from the same gang infiltrated a Jewish self- defense training session and were driven away.

The police arrived at the Jewish quarter 20 minutes after the gang vanished and proceeded to issue parking tickets. Police from the Crime Brigade stopped 20 blacks for identity checks about an hour later at the entrance to the Tribu Ka center in the Tenth Arrondissement. "We didn't find any weapons on them," said one policeman, and no arrests were made.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy condemned "the incitement of hatred and violence toward Jews" and promised to contact the Police Minister to have the organization declared illegal and disband it. That evening the website the organization uses to disseminate antisemitic propaganda was blocked and later Sarkozy met with CRIF Chairman Roger Cukierman.

The Jews and government authorities are worried that their aggressive appearance could create unrest and spread to youths in the African community. The head of the gang of barbarians that killed Ilan Halimi, Hy"d, was also a French black man.

The head of the organization, who goes by the name Kemi Seba, told a Le Monde reporter, "If being antisemitic means organizing defense against attacks by black haters, then I'm an antisemite." He claimed the Jewish Defense League attacked blacks during the demonstration following the death of Ilan Halimi.

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy visited the Rue des Rosiers, promising to disband Tribu Ka. "We will defend the Jews. A single Jew in fear of antisemitic attacks is a stain on the French flag," he said.

Hundreds of Jews were waiting for him on the narrow street, shouting, "Start doing your job." They expressed a lack of faith in the government's will and ability to act against antisemitic violence. When Sarkozy pledged to break up Tribu Ka, Jews in the street responded, "We love France but are being forced to leave it."

President Chirac displayed the same resolve in a meeting with CRIF Chairman Roger Cukierman. The only step taken so far has been to take the organization's website off the Internet. Black toughs can be seen guarding the entrance to the organization's headquarters in the tenth Arrondissement and Dieudonne's nightclub. According to Jewish radio, the controversial comedian himself sent them to the Jewish Quarter.

Gang leader Kemi Seba continues to issue threats freely. "Had we come to attack Jews nobody in the Jewish Quarter would have been left whole," he told reporters. "We came to fight with Beitar and the Jewish Defense League. We didn't find them and left."

The frightening infiltration put the previously unknown group into the headlines. Police intelligence say they have just 30 members, but Rue des Rosiers merchants counted 40 marchers wearing uniforms with knee-length leather jackets. Despite their small numbers, the authorities seem concerned, which has the Jews even more worried. Seba sent Jewish organizations messages and threats after the arrest of Fofana for the killing of Ilan Halimi, saying that if Fofana was harmed, Jews would be harmed.

"Too many organizations in France are threatening the Jews," a kosher pizzeria owner told Sarkozy. "Different [menaces] keep appearing on the Rue des Rosiers. We don't know what they want from us."

Jean Paul Kami, an expert on extreme organizations, told the Minister, "The neo-Nazis never had the gall to penetrate the Jewish Quarter in such an antagonistic and ordered way. Shutting down their website is not enough." Sarkozy was surrounded by reporters and policemen, making it difficult for the Jews to approach him.

Pierre Lelouch of the National Assembly ruling party, UMP, said it is hard to battle small groups within the confines of the law. Judges limit the type of actions that can be taken, citing freedom of expression. On the same day, philosopher Alain Finkielkraut was tried for supporting a book against Islam by Italian reporter Oriana Fallaci.

Any action against the Tribu Ka is liable to re-ignite rioting in Parisian suburbs. Before Sarkozy's arrival Jewish students and JDL members debated the proper way to halt the threat — whether to rely on the authorities or self- defense. Figures in Jewish circles said JDL's style of action is perceived by blacks and Arabs as aggressive, endangers the Jewish community and allows newspapers like Le Monde to blame the Jewish community for forging a pact with Le Pen. JDL Head Michael Carlisle demanded the police deploy forces in the Jewish Quarter, saying, "If not, we'll take action."


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