The mob howled for vengeance, the missiles raining down on the synagogue walls as the worshippers huddled inside. It was a scene from Europe in the 1930s ”“ except this was eastern Paris on the evening of July 13th, 2014.
Thousands had gathered to demonstrate against the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. But the protest soon turned violent ”“ and against Jews in general. One of those trapped told Israeli television that the streets outside were “like an intifada”, the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.
Some of the trapped Jews fought their way out as the riot police dispersed the crowd. Manuel Valls, the French Prime Minister, condemned the attack in “the strongest possible terms”, while Joel Mergei, a community leader, said he was “profoundly shocked and revolted”. The words had no effect. Two weeks later, 400 protesters attacked a synagogue and Jewish-owned businesses in Sarcelles, in the north of Paris, shouting “Death to the Jews”. Posters had even advertised the raid in advance, like the pogroms of Tsarist Russia.