Thursday, August 14, 2014

These French villagers want to keep living in a place called ‘Death to Jews’

By Rick Noack August 13 at 3:55 PM WashPost

There is only one road, a few houses and a farm. But the French hamlet La Mort aux Juifs, about 70 miles south of Paris, has attracted international attention. Translated, the hamlet's name reads, "Death to Jews." For centuries, nobody really seemed to care about it. This changed Monday, however, when the Jewish Simon Wiesenthal Center sent a letter to France's interior minister.

The fact that "it was unnoticed during seventy years since the liberation of France from the Nazis ... is most shocking," reads the letter signed by the center's director for international relations, Shimon Samuels. According to the Wiesenthal Center, the name could date to the 11th century, when pogroms led to the expulsion of 110,000 Jews from France in 1306.

Marie-Elizabeth Secretand, the deputy mayor of Courtemaux, which has jurisdiction over the hamlet, does not understand why the name "Death to Jews" has caused a sudden uproar. "It's ridiculous. This name has always existed," she told the news agency Agence France-Presse. "Why change a name that goes back to the Middle Ages or even further? We should respect these old names.... No one has anything against the Jews, of course."

According to Secretand, it is unlikely that the municipal council will approve a name change — it already turned down a similar request in 1992 by another anti-racism organization.

(More here.)

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