France Probes Russian Connection to Spate of Star of David Graffiti
In a startling turn of events, French prosecutors are delving into the possibility that a foreign intermediary may have orchestrated the painting of over 200 blue Stars of David on buildings in and around Paris. This incident has raised concerns about rising anti-Semitic acts in Europe in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The investigation suggests that a man and a woman, caught on surveillance cameras while painting some of the graffiti, communicated in Russian with a person who allegedly offered them financial incentives to spray these symbols on the buildings. This revelation has taken the authorities by surprise and has raised several questions about the motives behind these actions.
These blue Stars of David started to appear last month, with more than 60 discovered in the 14th arrondissement of Paris on October 31. Subsequent instances of this graffiti were found in two suburbs of the French capital. The appearance of these symbols has deeply shocked France, a nation where anti-Semitism remains a longstanding concern. French Jews have faced threats and have been the victims of terrorist attacks in recent years.
The man and woman responsible for the graffiti appeared to work swiftly, covering several buildings overnight. They were accompanied by a third person who documented their actions through photographs. Surprisingly, the man and woman left France immediately after their act, further deepening suspicions surrounding their involvement.
While the identities of these two individuals have not been disclosed, investigators have connected them to another couple – a 33-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman from Moldova. This Moldovan pair had been arrested in Paris on October 27 for painting a blue Star of David on a building. They admitted to acting on the orders of a third party in exchange for payment, and crucially, phone records showed that their conversations with this third party were in Russian.
Telephone data has led investigators to conclude that both couples may have been in contact with the same mysterious third party. This development has led authorities to consider that the graffiti may have been carried out at the explicit request of a person residing abroad.
It is important to note that the blue Stars of David did not seem to be targeted at specific locations. This has left authorities puzzled, and they have emphasized the need for further investigations to determine the potential “anti-Semitic intent” of this graffiti, especially given the current “geopolitical context.”
As of now, the Russian-speaking intermediary has not been identified, and the French government has refrained from making any comments regarding possible Russian involvement. This is in light of the ongoing investigation. However, some officials have suggested that the graffiti could be a means to sow discord within French society, where tensions have escalated following the Israel-Hamas conflict. The surge in anti-Semitic acts in France since October 7 has prompted French parliamentary leaders to call for a march in Paris against anti-Semitism. Laurent Nuñez, the Paris police prefect, has described the graffiti case as “atypical” and has raised concerns that foreign actors may be attempting to undermine French social cohesion.
Dimitri Minic, a research fellow specializing in Russia at the French Institute of International Relations, believes that Russian involvement in this graffiti is credible, given Russia’s history of attempting to undermine Western countries.
This incident has raised concerns about psychological and informational warfare through covert actions, aiming to heighten tensions within Western societies. It could be part of a broader strategy to alter the political course of certain Western countries deemed significant by Moscow. While the full extent of the involvement of foreign entities remains uncertain, this investigation continues to unfold, casting a shadow over the recent wave of anti-Semitic acts in Europe and the broader geopolitical implications.