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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 August, 2004, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Israel minister visits arson site
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom (left) with French Rabbi Claude Zaffran
Shalom praised France's stand against anti-Semitism
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom has reiterated his concerns about anti-Semitism in France during a visit to a Jewish community centre in Paris.

The centre was scrawled with swastikas and torched by arsonists on Sunday.

Mr Shalom, who earlier in his visit had urged French authorities to take firmer action to curb the rise in attacks, said France was doing all it could.

As France celebrated 60 years since Nazi rule in Paris ended, he said Jews should not have to live in fear.

"It can't be that 60 years after the liberation of Paris, Jews will live under threat here or in any other country in the world," he said.

Visiting the burned-out centre, which offered a soup kitchen, Mr Shalom said it was "not something you wanted to see, and the smell is something you don't want to smell."

It is not just one incident... it is a wave and it has to be stopped.
Silvan Shalom,
Israeli Foreign Minister

Anti-Semitic acts have more than doubled in the first seven months of this year compared to 2003.

From January to July, there were 160 anti-Semitic acts in France - compared to 75 over the corresponding period the year before.

But Mr Shalom later said he hoped President Jacques Chirac's efforts to combat anti-Jewish feeling in France would be "followed by other countries".

"There is no doubt that the French government knows that there is a problem, a serious problem, of anti-Semitism in France," he said.

"They are determined to do everything needed to bring this phenomenon to an end, they intend to carry out actions in a long list of places to stamp out those who wish to hurt Jews."


The mayor of the Paris district where the attack took place, Georges Sarre, told Mr Shalom the French authorities would "do the maximum to fight against anti-Semitic acts", according to AP.

Burn-out community centre
There has been a sharp rise in anti-Semitic attacks in France
"At the moment when we are celebrating the liberation of Paris, a major event in the evolution of World War II, it is unspeakable, unjustifiable that these acts happen," he said.

Relations between France and Israel have been strained since Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon urged Jews to flee France.

His comments last month prompted a sharp rebuke from Mr Chirac.

After being threatened with a ban on travel to France, Mr Sharon changed his tone, praising Mr Chirac's efforts to combat anti-Semitism.

France is home to Europe's largest Jewish and Muslim communities, estimated at 600,000 and five million respectively.

Mr Shalom's visit is the first by a high-level Israeli official since Mr Sharon's criticisms.

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