Shalom Life | August 14, 2014

French Mayor Opposed to Changing Name of 'Death to Jews' Village

Marie-Elisabeth Secretand wants to keep the name of Mort-Aux-Juifs despite a request from the Simon Wiesenthal Center

By: Daniel Koren

Published: August 12th, 2014 in News » World

French Mayor Opposed to Changing Name of 'Death to Jews' Village

On Monday, Simon Wiesenthal Center Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels (see above), sent a letter to French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve after discovering “the existence of a village in France officially named ‘La Mort aux Juifs’ (‘Death to the Jews’)."

Samuels was shocked that such a name could exist - amid growing tensions between anti-Israel and pro-Israel supporters in the country, home to the largest Muslim and Jewish populations in Western Europe - and urged Cazeneuve to change the name immediately.

In an interview with AFP, French Deputy mayor Marie-Elisabeth Secretand of the village of Courtemaux (where the locality 'La Mort aux Juifs' is located), however, said the proposal was 'absurd.'

“It’s absurd, this name has existed for ages,” she said. “Of course no one means to harm the Jews.”

Secretand says that Mort-Aux-Juifs is not large enough to even be referred to as a village, as it consists of a farm and two homes. She noted that a local council decided not to change the name of the village twenty years ago when a similar motion was suggested.

Throughout his letter, Samuels requests Cazeneuve to seek “the earliest removal of this genocidal name and its replacement with an identity rather more welcoming to all.”

Samuels found that the village has maintained its name for thousands of years, possibly as far as the 11th century, during which pogroms against Jews were rampant before King Philip IV of France expelled the country's 110,000 Jews in 1306.

He added that he was surprised “that the name remained under Napoleon’s emancipation of French Jewry,” saying “that it was unnoticed during seventy years since the liberation of France from the Nazis and Vichy is most shocking.”

“The current surge in public and violent expressions of anti-Semitism makes us uneasy regarding the motives of those seeking to reside at such an address,” he wrote.

This isn't the first such incident to occur in Europe, let alone this year. Months ago, residents of the Spanish village of Castrillo MataJudios ("Camp Kill Jews") voted to finally change the municipality's name.

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