TT: Welcome Dr.Cammarella to the Tundra Tabloids, thank you for agreeing to do this interview.
Dr.Cammarella: Thank you for offering, great to be here, your blog is GREAT indeed.
TT: Dr.Cammarella, Ami,..please tell my readers about yourself. I hear that you had relatives lost in the Holocaust (Shoah) during WWII, could you enlighten us a bit about that, and who these people were and how you, as a born Israeli, came to live in France etc.?
Dr.Cammarella: Indeed, in particular, the most important thing for me about the story of the Shoah, was that my grandmother was killed, she was taken in September of 1942 by some French policemen. These French policemen gave her to the Nazis, and she perished like other 76 000 Jews (out of 270 000 Jews who lived in France at this time) . So this is my family story with France, a very difficult story.
TT: Tell us a bit more about the French police .
TT: Ah… Gaza city..
That is why after I began going to Synagogue, not because I had some kind of revelation or became real religious but, I said to myself, ok, you are a Jew, go and see what they say about Judaism . So then I went to inform myself what is about Judaism and that’s how I came to know the friend of our mutual friend, and about Judaism and to be a part of the Jewish community in the north of France.
But that wasn’t the first anti-Semitic reaction that I had, it was the only one that I had from someone not an Arab, he was an ethnic French with an old fashioned French name. After WW II it was difficult to express anti-Semitism because of all the horrible things that had happened. If you were to say anti-Semitic things you would be attacked by the law. But I think that anti-Semitism is not dead, not all the people are anti-Semitic of course, but it does exist.
TT: Do you know of other friends of yours that are Jews have left France, are there of any significant numbers who have left for example, Israel or for elsewhere in the last 3-4 years, or you have no knowledge of anything like that?
Dr.Cammarella: Yes I know of some people who have left for Israel due to anti-Semitism, yes. Just recently, because only recently I became a part of a big Jewish community, before I didn’t know of anyone. So little by little my identity became a Jewish identity and little by little things changed for me, and I want to tell you of the other incidents of anti-Semitism I experienced which came this time from Arabs.
TT: Did these incidents take place in your private or professional life or both?
Dr.Cammarella: both professional and private life ; the first incident took place in (Dunkirk) by that high level physician, the next time was in the beginning of 2004 which took place in the intensive care ward, this time in Lille (the 4th town of France) . I was a resident like before and my colleague who was an Arab physician from Algeria who was doing his residency in cardiology and had a course in the general area of the intensive care department, and we worked together, very closely in a professional way.
Dr.Cammarella: He was not a religious man, he was secular in thinking concerning Islam, no problem with a Christmas tree and such like. But he couldn’t be seen with Jews, and that was anti-Semitic. You probably know that in Algeria they hate Jews,and they hate Israel. I recently read that they are probably only ten Jews left in all of Algeria. At the end of the WWII , there were more than 165 000. This french jewish singer I spoke about, Enrico Macias, tried to go to Algeria many times, and every time the Algerian government told him that no, he cannot enter their country.
TT: When did the next anti-Semitic incident take place?
He came from Beirut Lebanon at the age of nineteen to do all of his medical studies. And because France have particular links to Lebanon (like with North Africa) , he found with no problem a place in the first year of a french medicine’s university to stay ..
TT: Now when did things start to change and what happened next?
TT: Did you ever here from him at all, what happened next?
Dr.Cammarella: Well, a mutual friend of ours called me in December of 2006 , and he told me “well Ami, he doesn’t want to have any contact with you, he doesn’t want to see you anymore.” I understood it was because I am Israeli and so in his mind I had links to the Israeli army and somehow I was responsible… and so he wanted to break up our friendship. At this moment I began to understand that it was not possible for me not to have links with Israel .
There is another possibility though, to be totally blind even when you see so many things, such reactions. It’s a big wish, a big desire to not believe that. I know many people, friends who think like that, they’ve decided that France was a good country .
But I decided to be committed .
Dr.Cammarella: I think he changed due to his wife, I don’t think that he became radicalized, he doesn’t belong to Hezbollah…
TT: No I didn’t mean that, just his becoming more traditional in his approach to life.
Dr.Cammarella: Yes I think so, in particular with his wife. His wife didn’t grow up in France like he did for about 17 years, she just arrived in France with all her Middle Eastern traditions and values .
TT: Well this is just conjecture on my part, but do you think then that he would have broken off relations with you nonetheless, even if the 2nd Lebanon war never happened?
Dr.Cammarella: I think that it was just a question of time, during those years in school he was allowed to have a friendship with me, and in retrospect it was a time for me to grow up and realize what happens, because I come from a family that didn’t prepare me for that. It was a family full of love and humanity, a humanist family you know, ok, we all have to be friends we have to live together in friendship. No, that’s not life, and so I had to be more mature and understand what is our real world position and where I have to be and so on. So to answer you question, it only had to be a question of time.
TT: And what other thoughts might you have concerning France before we wrap this interview up?
Dr.Cammarella: Well the Gaza war is another wake up, what happened in Europe and what happened in France, the reaction was really strong. After that I was sure, absolutely sure that I had to leave France, because for me, France is the most anti-Semitic country in Europe . In particular during the Gaza war there were about 400 anti-Semitic attacks.
Three Synagogues were attacked with Molotov cocktails, about ten Jews were beaten (at least officially)*. I know of one guy, not personally, who was from Paris and he was beaten by ten Arabs in January of this year, in particular his nose was broken and he spent three days in the hospital…and that just because he was a Jew!
He was interviewed by YNET, an Israeli internet website, in which he stated that there is no longer a place for Jews in France and prepared for his immigrating to Israel. I don’t know if he has left already or not. All my friends, my Jewish friends didn’t want to believe what they saw, they said, “well that’s the way it is, Jews being beaten because they are Jews, that’s the history of the Jews through the centuries, no? It doesn’t happen every day, and it’s not Auschwitz so, you have to live with it.” It’s no problem if you hide your identity, to take off very quickly your kippa, immediately when you go out from the synagogue.
My grandmother was killed because of French people who gave her away to the Nazis. And today I can’t stand to see Synagogues being attacked with Molotov cocktails and to listen to them say bad things about Israel and the Jews. 400 anti-Semitic attacks in France, like the one guy beaten up by ten Arabs just because he was a Jew, I can’t take that any more. It’s indefensible. That’s my position of why I’m leaving France.
TT: Dr.Cammarella, thank you for joining us here at the Tundra Tabloids, all the best to you.
Dr.Cammarella: Thank you KGS very much.
*Note: Click here for the Ilan Halimi incident.