Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
Je suis Juif de France: 'I am a Jew of France." (Archive: January 2015)

Jews in France want to have their “gateau” and eat it too, according to U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who met in Paris with French Jewish leaders on Monday.

“What I heard was a real desire to stay in France and have France be a place where they felt safe,” Lew told Jewish media in a conference call from Poland. Lew was in Europe to lead a U.S. delegation to ceremonies marking 70 years since the liberation of the Nazi death camps at Auschwitz.

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He said Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia and Union of Jewish Communities of France President Dr. Joel Mergui told him they “believe in France.”

Jewish leaders did not hide their communities’ mourning for losses resulting from the horrific terror attacks perpetrated earlier this month, Lew noted. But they had “deep convictions in the importance of the values they believe in, in France” as “we believe in, in the United States,” he told reporters.

The American official, who himself is an observant Jew, carefully avoided an mention of the controversial speech in Paris by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Grand Synagogue in Paris following the millions-strong unity march against terror.

Netanyahu and French President Francois Hollande – who had earlier requested the Israeli prime minister not come to the event in the first place – were both greeted by cheers from the crowd at the synagogue.

“Those who murdered Jews at a synagogue in Jerusalem and those who murdered Jews and [Gentile and Jewish] journalists in Paris are part of the same problem. We must condemn them and fight them!” Netanyahu asserted in his address.

But the Israeli leader also reminded those gathered that the Jewish homeland remained available as an option to Jews who wished to consider an alternative and move away from growing anti-Semitism in Europe, in France.

“Any Jew who chooses to come to Israel will be greeted with open arms and an open heart,” he assured those gathered. “It is not a foreign nation, and hopefully they and you will one day come to Israel. Am Yisrael Chai!” (“The people of Israel lives!”)

Netanyahu was roundly criticized for what was seen as an escape option to French Jews on the heels of one of the bloodiest terror attacks the community has seen. But there were no secrets that day: not one person in the building was unaware of the growing danger to the Jews.

At an Israel Bonds gala in Florida, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer bluntly defended Netanyahu’s speech. “I am proud that my prime minister made clear to all French Jews that while they have the right to be protected in France, they will be welcomed with open arms in Israel,” he said.

It is impossible to deny that anti-Semitism is rising dramatically in Europe in general and in France in particular. In the past year alone the figures have doubled with nearly 1,000 anti-Semitic incidents reported. More than 230 involved outright violence.

In 2014, 7,000 Jews left France; the majority decided to make their homes in the Jewish State. The Jewish Agency for Israel told media earlier this month it expects to see as many as 10,000 French Jewish immigrants by the end of 2015, if not more.

Oddly, Rabbi Korsia told the crowd at the Grand Synagogue during Netanyahu’s visit, “The French people has done its duty. Until now, we always felt isolated. But that is not the case anymore… Now everyone must assume his or her personal duty.” After reading the names of all 17 victims of the past week’s slaughter, the rabbi said, “What would France be without fraternity?”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.

9 COMMENTS

  1. They trusted more than once. France has a poor history of past anti-Semitism. I saw just a few details at the Holocaust Museum on a time line. Long before Hitler came to power, anti-Semitisim was alive and well in France. It just keeps getting worse in France and around the world.

  2. i am french jew born in algiers and already we have leaves algeria in 1962 for France when general de gaulle gives our pretty algeria to a band of terrorists muslims of fln for after makes comes working in France and because stupid policys of Giscard /chirac in 1977 has permit to workers arabs of France to make comes their wife for makes childrens between 12/18 and because stupid french policys now we have in France 15 moins muslims and many of them are islamics we can see any days this womens with tchadors , hijabs and same black gurkha for entry to high school then is forbidden to entry with religious dress unless for arabs muslims thry want imposed to french population their bladdy customs and religion "me as french jew i remembers during war of gaza and this arabs manifestation in paris scanding "death to israel , death to jewish people , boycotting israel " and after that this bladdy acolyte of Obama " this shame jewish of cour "want than we love France " sincerely i hate France and we have haste to immigrate to israel " because soon the muslims will commands all France " this jack lew i have shame for him for supports shamy anti israeli policys leading by "Obama " i dont understand this jews of Obama can support Obama still" i have shame for all as Anthony blinken as well whom his greatdad Samuel pisar was rescaped from holocaust " i dont understand why all this bad jews support Obama for all vexation Obama is making against israel and jack lew dont have to push us " us french jewish " to stays in France " because we dont have trustee on France henceforth " !!!

  3. Lew a Jew — not really. His religion is the Democrat Party. He performs to Barack Obama's whims as he knows that any independent thinking is outlawed in Barack Obama's Cabinet. Lew had NO experience in Us Treasury work. But there he is – lackey- luckey – lew.

  4. Alan Kardon, finally someone else is realizing that America is experiencing a reemergence of the anti-Semitism which has been simmering since WWII. Anti-Semitic actions against Jews, here in America, are happening at an accelerating rate. The reason that people do not hear about a lot of them is that law enforcement and the media go to great lengths to call these acts anything other than anti-Semitism. I live in San Francisco, and things I have heard spoken on the street would make your hair stand on end. A little over a year ago, there was a swastika sprayed on the stop sign in front of our shul.

    The reasons which people use to explain why they are choosing to stay in Europe sound so much like what camp survivors and those lucky enough to have escaped (I am 69 and new a number of them, in my younger years, in Los Angeles), in the 1930s, gave for not leaving their home countries. "We have lived here for generations." "We are citizens of, ____, (fill in the country) and this is our home." "It couldn't happen here." As history has shown, 'it' has happened wherever we have lived for the past two millennia.

    I can't imagine that things will get as bad in America as they are in Europe. That being said, I am planning to make aliyah as soon as possible.

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