By Miranda Richmond Mouillot, an observant Jew born in North Carolina, who lives and writes in the South of France
After “Do you miss home?” the question I am asked most frequently about my 10 years in France is, “Do you feel safe as a Jew?” Invariably, the query cloaks another, usually unspoken one: “Am I afraid of all the Muslims?” And so I wish to say what a decade here has shown me: the generalizations contained in those questions frighten me more than any experience in France ever has.
I don’t mean this in ideological or statistical terms, although those are important points to be made as well. Those terms are too general, and what I wish to share is the opposite; it is purely personal. But as the wave of terror that follows crimes committed in the name of any creed or god pushes us to embrace stereotypes and generalizations, I believe it bears repeating: in my 10 years on French soil I have learned that choosing how and when to discuss my Jewishness with a French person can be a fraught and sometimes painful affair – unless, that is, he or she happens to be Muslim. I have never been treated with anything approaching intolerance by a Muslim in France; more often than not, I am hailed and welcomed as a kind of distant cousin.
Source: Salon, January 25