Anti-Semitism in France

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Madam, Sir,

I am a French jewish journalist. I live in an apartment in a good neighborhood in Paris. I am the owner of the apartment. My parents are also owners of another apartment in the same building. They are 83 and 72 years old.

In 2001, my mother and I filed a complaint for many crimes which have caused damage to this building and to us as co-owners: we have been victims of anti-Semitism and xenophobia. The French justice system “examined” some of the alleged misdemeanours that were punishable by prison sentences and fines. It has refused to pursue the authors of these crimes. It has never examined the crimes of anti-Semitism and xenophobia although the French Minister of Justice has regularly stated his intention to pursue and sanction any anti-Semitic act in our country. The judge charged with our complaints concluded in his decision refusing to investigate these two crimes: “ Terms such as ‘You are inhuman, go back home, you want to dominate the co-owners’ board’ “do not appear at all xenophobic or racist”.

The complete sentence is “Leave the building and go back home”. And I am French a coowner living in the building. It is my only apartment. This judge does not consider that these phrases embody the old stereotypes about “dominating and nation-less Jews”. Not only has the penal justice system refused to pursue these crimes, but the civil justice system is persecuting my family: in October 2003, the Paris Appeals Court condemned my parents to pay 11,000 euros (plus the lawyers’ fees for the opposing party and interest) because they denounced irregularities in the management of the building. The Court thus found legal any various irregular and incoherent decisions:

-The Court has judged legal a decision to adopt a budget for the civil year 2000, although the table of accounts mentions 9 months and not 12.

-The Court has judged legal a resolution to put our apartments on sale with income from that sale to go to the association of co-owners. Thus my 45 square meter apartment would be sold for 4,000 euros or 4,000 dollars. The resolution did not explain the reason why the association of co-owners wanted to sell my family’s apartments. The association of co-owners has demanded amounts from my family who would be in debt to this association. But my family is up to date in the payment of its co-ownership charges for the building. It seems that this association would like to sell our apartments to get back this amount and get rid of my law-abiding family. What is strange too is that this association has never communicated any paid bill corresponding to any amount that is being claimed (a handwritten letter indicates the amounts to be paid without any explanation). In December 2003, the co-ownership board has demanded an amount without providing us with any paid bill corresponding to the amount claimed, different from that indicated in another official report of the April 2003 General Assembly.

We are in an absurd situation, but for my family, it is more than dramatic. My parents were forced to leave their native Tunisia and were persecuted by the Vichy regime and by the Nazis. In a democracy, they are re-living again these painful acts without the protection of the legal system.

I have received hate mail. I am insulted in the general assembly of co-owners. I can provide proof of all my allegations.

If you are interested or if you know of journalists or others who might be interested by my testimony, I would be grateful if you would inform me as well as present my case. I have numerous and serious examples of the dysfunctioning of the legal system to cite.

Yours sincerely, Véronique Chemla Journalist

Anti-Semitism in France

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Vèronique Chemla

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