Paris mayor decries Holocaust memorial vandalism News
Jblevee, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Paris mayor decries Holocaust memorial vandalism

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo decried the vandalization of the Shoah Memorial, a memorial dedicated to the Holocaust and Jewish history during the Second World War, as “unspeakable” in a press release issued in the French capital on Tuesday.

Overnight Monday, about 20 red hands were spray painted on the Shoah Memorial, including the Wall of the Righteous, which recognizes 3,900 people who risked their lives to save Jews. The vandalism coincided with the anniversary of a May 14, 1941 roundup during which some 3,700 Jews from the Marais and the Paris region were arrested before being deported to Auschwitz. Hidalgo condemned the perpetrators, stating that no causes would justify such acts which constitute a degradation to the memory of the Shoah victims. The acts were qualified as potentially constituting a public offence of an antisemitic nature and were referred to the public prosecutor in accordance with Article 40 of the code of criminal procedure.

The president of the representative council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF), Yonathan Arfi, denounced the acts in a statement on X (formerly Twitter) as “despicable” and stated that the defacement of the Shoah Memorial, a symbol of the bloodied hands of the terrorists who lynched two Israeli soldiers in October 2000, resonates like a hateful rallying cry against the Jews.

The symbol of red hands also surfaced notably at recent Pro-Palestine protests in at Sciences-Po. While journalists E. David Benaym and Raphaël Enthoven say its origin is related to the massacre of two Israeli soldiers in 2000 during the second Intifada, students at the university denied the accusations and assured the symbol is meant to display the brutality and violence in Israel’s military attacks on Gaza.

The acts took place in the context of a rise of antisemitic acts in France, which has the biggest Muslim and Jewish populations in Western Europe, as well as in other countries in Europe. Antisemitic acts in the country have increased threefold in the first quarter of 2024, compared to the previous year.

President Emmanuel Macron denounced on X the defacement of the Wall of the Righteous, stating that it harms the memory of those who risked their lives to save Jews as well as the victims of the Shoah, and stressed that the country will always remain inflexible in the face of such odious acts of antisemitism.