The French official in charge of La-mort-aux-Juifs — a small French village whose name translates into “Death to Jews” — is refusing calls to change its name, AFP reported Tuesday.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a prominent Jewish group that focuses on fighting anti-Semitism, sent a letter to French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Monday demanding that La-mort-aux-Juifs be renamed.
“It is extremely shocking that this name has slipped under the radar in the 70 years that have passed since France was liberated from Nazism and the (pro-Nazi) Vichy regime,” director of international affairs Shimon Samuels wrote in the letter, AFP reported.
The rural village, about 60 miles south of Paris, has about 20 residents.
On Tuesday, Marie-Elizabeth Secretand, the deputy mayor of a neighboring village that has jurisdiction over La-mort-aux-Juifs, told AFP that she objected to any name change.
“It’s ridiculous. This name has always existed,” Secretand told AFP. “No one has anything against the Jews, of course. It doesn’t surprise me that this is coming up again,” she added. “Why change a name that goes back to the Middle Ages or even further? We should respect these old names.”
The local municipal council has to vote to change the name, though Secretand told AFP that seemed unlikely.
In May, residents of the Spanish village of Castrillo Matajudios — which translates as, “Castrillo Kill Jews” — voted to change the name to the less violent, Mota de Judios, or “Hill of the Jews.”
Anti-Semitic attacks have been on the rise in France since Israel launched a military offensive in Gaza on July 8. In several incidents, anti-Jewish riots have broken out after largely non-violent protests against Israel. Israeli officials expect more French Jews to immigrate to Israel in 2014 than in 2012 and 2013 in part because of these incidents, the Huffington Post reported.