Nearly 1000 Jews were surprised to find themselves listening to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls Monday night at the top Jewish event of the season in France.
Valls replaced President Francois Hollande as keynote speaker at the 31st annual political dinner of the CRIF, the Council of Jewish Institutions of France. The switch came after Hollande realized he could not leave Brussels during the European Union-Turkey summit on the migration crisis.
Perhaps it was for the best. Valls was blunt in his remarks about the rising anti-Semitism in France, and the government’s outrage over the attacks.
“Yes, the Jews of France are too often afraid. To wear a kippah, to go to the synagogue, to go shopping in the kosher shops, send their children to public school. We don’t accept this reality,’’ Valls said.
The prime minister acknowledged the fact that anti-Semitism is coming from both sides of the political spectrum in the country, denouncing it from “the extreme right as well as from far left”.
He vigorously defended the right of Jews in France to live and dress as they please, to be Jews in France.
Valls also acknowledged that anti-Zionism is simply a thin veil for the new style of hatred of Jews. “There is anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism which is simply synonymous with anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel,” he said.
“The Jews of France have built France and they must continue to build it –but at the same time I know the solidarity that binds you to Israel,”Valls added.
“Israel is a democracy, a nation that speaks to the world, and France will always be by its side.”
Former French foreign minister Laurent Fabius was the architect of a proposed French peace summit designed to re-launch final status talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority this year.
But France announced it would recognize the PA as an independent sovereign Arab nation regardless of the outcome of the venture, thereby obviating its purpose and destroying any hope for its success.Hana Levi Julian