(Paris, France) – If you suddenly found out your town’s name – a name going back for centuries – was offensive to a particular religious or ethnic group, would you change it?
Maybe. Maybe not.
Such is the discussion over France’s La Mort aux Juifs, a tiny hamlet a mere 70 miles from Paris. The town name’s English translation? “Death to Jews.”
The sudden realization of an offensive, centuries-old name is coupled with a recent – and alarming – uptick in anti-Semitic incidents across Europe, especially in France.
“We can attribute the rise in attacks on Jews to the recent military action between Israel and Hamas in Gaza,” said a French government official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Or maybe it’s just because the French really, really hate Jews. We’re still looking into it.”
As for La Mort aux Juifs, its residents don’t appear to be willing to give in without a fight.
“The name goes back 900 years,” said a town resident, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Why should we change? No one has complained about the name until now. And we welcome Jews to France, of course. Just not here in our town.”
“It is ridiculous to even talk about a name change,” said a town official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It’s been the name for generations, and it will be the name for generations to come.
“Plus, a name change would totally ruin the festival we celebrate every November 9-10 with Hitler N’a Rien de Mal, our neighboring town.”
Translation: Hitler Did Nothing Wrong.
To be fair, France isn’t the only country with similar names for its towns. Just last May, the Spanish village of Castrillo Matajudíos – “Camp Kill Jews” – voted to change its name. Now known as Castrillo Mota de Judíos – Camp Hill of Jews – the offensive name was in use for only 390 years.
“That means we’re not as bad as France!” said a Camp Hill of Jews resident, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The State Department (DOS) has voiced its support for changing the names of towns older than the United States itself.
“We clearly and firmly support Europeans’ clear right to make a clear change in the offensive, and often anti-Semitic, names of their towns, which unfortunately can be identified very clearly on road signs and maps,” said a State Department spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“And GPS units, too!”