French JDL vigilantes making anti-Semites think twice

Jewish vigilantes are protecting Jews on the streets of France, and maybe-just maybe-that is exactly what Europe needs. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

ISRAEL, July 5, 2013 — The members of the French JDL, also known as LDJ, the French branch of the Jewish Defense League, did not have to wait for the latest European Union reports to know just how severe anti-Semitism in Europe has become. Since the horrific slaughter of a Jewish teacher, his two young children and one of his 8-year old students in Toulouse the LDJ has come out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

In the past few weeks a number of news reports have come out and there is, undoubtedly, a sequential link to them.


The first story was deeply troubling. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights conducted a study on the rise of anti-Semitism in nine European countries. The findings, while not surprising to anyone who has been paying attention to the Islamization of Europe, is still jarring. The study, reported by a number of news sites, found that “26% of Jews have suffered from anti-Semitic harassment at least once in the past year, 34% experienced such harassment in the past five years, 5% reported that their property was intentionally vandalized because they are Jewish, about 7% were physically hurt or threatened in the past five years.” Additionally, “40% to 50% of Jews in France, Belgium and Hungary said they were considering emigrating as they no longer felt safe.”

A few other bone-chilling numbers were presented by American Jewish Committee President David Harris at the Jerusalem Post:

A recent Tel Aviv University report found that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe increased by 30 percent between 2011 and 2012.

A separate analysis of anti-Semitic incidents in France noted a jump of 58 percent in that same period, and that half of all racist acts in that country are committed against Jews, though Jews constitute just one percent of the population. Most striking last year was the targeting and murder of four Jews, including three small children, outside a Jewish school in Toulouse.

Moreover, there are today two aggressively anti-Semitic, xenophobic political parties represented in the parliaments of European Union member states—Jobbik in Hungary and Golden Dawn in Greece. Other extremist political movements operating on EU soil have had some success on the local and regional levels.

As the British newspaper The Independent pointed out in a May 5 editorial referring to Jobbik, “Hungarian populists have come from nowhere in only a few years by attributing all their country’s ills to the enemy within — in this case, half-a-million Roma and 100,000 Jews.”

To the Jewish communities of Europe this is a debilitating reality the world is again choosing to ignore.

The second story was a response to the first. Jewish Agency president, and renowned former Soviet refusenik, Natan Sharanky, in response to the EU report said “Today in the free world, anti-Semitism does not encourage aliya (emigration to Israel), [anti-Semitism encourages] younger generation of Jews to distance themselves from Israel.”

While Sharanky deserves a tremendous amount of respect for all he has done for the Jewish people in his capacity as the head of the Jewish Agency, this response is meek and pathetic. Not only does it downplay the seriousness of the report, it plays directly into the anti-Semite’s hands. If the head of the JA is acknowledging that anti-Semitism forces Jews to “distance themselves from Israel” why on earth would they stop?! Sharansky’s response is baffling.

This leads to the third and final story of this saga: the growing spotlight on the LDJ.

French Jewish Defense League activists demonstrating in Paris, 2011. (photo credit: Ligue de Defense Juive via JTA)

While the virtue of being ‘above the fray’ and a ‘light unto the nations’ cannot be understated, there is something to be said for standing up for your people.

Although their methods may make some queasy, the LDJ is protecting its own people because their government refuses to.

Oddly enough, in the case of the LDJ, the French government seems to be turning a blind eye. Small punishments have been meted out here and there, but on the whole they enjoy fair relations with the French police and French authorities have ignored all calls to ban the group.

Sadly, but not shockingly, the most outspoken of groups against the LDJ are the very people they are protecting; the French Jewish establishment.

It is true that vigilante justice is a slippery slope but in a country where Jews have failed to stand up for themselves before, and to numbingly devastating consequences, perhaps the French government is doing the right thing this time.

LDJ spokesman, who goes by the alias Ammnon Cohen, told the JTA “We’ve noticed the Muslim community believes LDJ is some vast machine that operates with impunity and help from Mossad. It’s not true, but it’s not a bad thing if they are scared. It’ll make them think twice.”

What if the Jews had had a group that made the Crusaders think twice? What if the Jews had had a group of people that made the Nazis think twice?

Is it sad that the world has sunk to levels so low that it now sees eye-for-an-eye religious fighting as a norm? Absolutely yes.

Does that mean that if the Jews want to be ‘better’ they must stand there and take every punch that comes their way? Absolutely not.

The LDJ is the French branch of the Jewish Defense League, started by Rabbi Meir Kahane in the late 60s. Ironically the JDL was originally established to pressure US and Soviet diplomats to free the Jewish refuseniks trapped in the Gulag, such as Natan Sharansky, a man Rabbi Kahane helped a great deal. While there have been many deplorable acts misguidedly committed in Rabbi Kahane’s name, they do not reflect the man and his true beliefs and goals. Rabbi Kahane’s goal was first and foremost to  always protect his people because if the Jews did not choose to protect the Jews than who would?

Former leader of the Jewish Underground, Prime Minister of Israel, and Camp David peace-maker Menachem Begin himself understood the sad mindset of the Jewish establishment the last time Europe waged war on the Jews. In his famous book “The Revolt” Begin penned “The Jews of the rest of the world did not easily believe in the mass graves of Ponari, nor in the crematoria of Treblinka. Was it possible, they asked themselves, to wipe out a whole people-and in the twentieth century? What would the world say?”

“How naïve they were,” Begin continues, “they did not realize that…as it was the Jewish people, “the world” would remain largely unmoved.”

This should assure any of the ‘humanists’ out there that, while they may not agree with the LDJ’s methods, history sadly supports its necessity.

The Jewish establishment is fighting the LDJ perhaps harder than anyone else. Rabbi Kahane, in his book “The Story of the Jewish Defense League” addresses this direct issue (sadly not a new source of strife among the Jews by any stretch) in the opening of his chapter entitled “Is This Any Way for a Nice Jewish Boy to Behave?”

The Rabbi begins with a story: “The story is told of two Jews being taken out by anti-Semites to be shot. As they were both placed against the wall blindfolds were placed over their eyes and one cried out: ‘the blindfold is too tight!’ At which point the other frantically whispered; ‘quiet, don’t make trouble…’”

Rabbi Kahane then goes on to describe an “advertisement [that] appeared in the New York Times on June 24, 1969. Over a picture of a group of tough-looking pipe-wielding youngsters was the question: Is this any way for a nice Jewish boy to behave?”

And Rabbi Kahane answers emphatically back “maybe there are times when there is no other way to get across to the extremist that the Jew is not quite the patsy some think he is…Maybe nice Jewish boys do not always get through to people who threaten to carry teachers out in pine boxes and burn down merchant’s stores. Maybe some people and organizations are too nice. Maybe in times of crisis Jewish boys should not be that nice. Maybe-just maybe-nice people build their own road to Auschwitz.”

Argue that the Knesset banned Rabbi Kahane’s political party because they were racists, argue that he was a savage militant, argue that he was an alarmist (you would be wrong though) but re-read the above statement and find honest fault in it.

“Never Again” will only be a cutesy slogan when “Kill the Jews!” becomes a slogan never cried again on this earth. Until then, maybe-just maybe-Jews need to stand up for themselves, and perhaps the not-so-nice LDJ, whether the world likes it or not, is leading the way to saving European Jewry before it is too late once again.  


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Doni Kandel

Doni Kandel has been writing about Israel and Jewish issues since the age of 13. Originally from Los Angeles, he is now living in central Israel, studying for his M.A. in Counter-Terrorisms and Homeland Security at the IDC Herzliya. His work can also be found at, where he is the editor-in-chief, as well as on his blog for the Jerusalem Post, E-TONE


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