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Posts Tagged ‘France’
Two days following the deadly terror attack on the kosher supermarket in Paris, veteran ZAKA volunteers from Israel traveled to France to join their volunteer colleagues in the Paris Zaka unit. On Sunday evening, January 11, ZAKA International Rescue Unit head Mati Goldstein and veteran ZAKA volunteer Dano Monkotovitz immediately flew out to Paris to the site of the supermarket terror attack that left four Jewish hostages dead.
Volunteers from ZAKA Paris, under the command of Rabbi Tzemach (Serge) Ben Naim, had already been working at the scene for several hours, collecting remains and working to ensure a full Jewish burial for the victims; Yoav Hattab, 21, Yohan Cohen, 22, Philippe Braham, and Francois-Michel Saada.
Goldstein noted that the Israeli ZAKA volunteers were able to get special permission from the Attorney General of France to enter the attack scene and help collect remains. “After complex discussions and outreach of ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, together with the Foreign Ministry and Jewish community leaders in Paris, we were able to get permission from the Attorney General of France to enter the scene of the attack,” he said.
“We went to the supermarket late at night under the security of the French police and we worked to gather all the findings at the scene,” added Goldstein.
The Parisian volunteers of ZAKA were trained one year ago at the initiative of the President of the Consistoire in France, Dr. Joel Mergui. “They were very professional in their response, despite the pain that comes with personal acquaintance with the victims,” described Goldstein.
ZAKA Paris commander Rabbi Ben Naim, who also serves as the President of the Jewish Burial Society (Chevrah Kadisha) further commented that “this is a very difficult attack for France as a whole and the Jewish community in particular.”
“At first, the French police did not understand why it is important for us to enter the scene and collect the findings of the victims in order to give them a proper Jewish burial. However, after we explained the religious significance to them, we received the necessary authorization,” explained Rabbi Ben Naim.
“What moved me is that when we arrived on the scene at the supermarket, there were hundreds of French Jews, religious and secular, standing there,” he said.
“When the crowd saw the ZAKA team go into the supermarket to do the holy work, they showed their appreciation, especially when they saw Jews from France and Israel coming together to perform true virtue – the holiest work of Chessed Shel Emet – with the blood of their brothers which was spilled like water,” added Rabbi Ben Naim.
“It was a very difficult scene inside the supermarket. It was as if time stood still, with shopping carts full of food in preparation for Shabbat in the cashier aisles and deliveries waiting to be sent to customers. But the floor was covered in the blood of the victims,” said Paris ZAKA volunteer Avraham Weinberg.
The ZAKA volunteers also worked at the scene of the terror attack at the Charlie Hebdo offices where, it has been discovered, there were three Jews among the victims.
On Monday, January 12, the ZAKA volunteers worked with the local burial society to treat the bodies of the victims and prepare them to fly to Israel for burial.
Also on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Paris supermarket, Hyper Cacher, to pay respects to the families of the victims, killed by Islamist extremist Amedy Coulibaly.
There’s indication and reports that the French government did everything it could to try and dissuade Israeli PM Netanyahu from visiting France and participating in their unity march, and when that failed, they insulted him with political snubs.
Security may sound like valid concern for not wanting Netanyahu there, but with 40 other world leaders present, that excuse sounds feeble.
The bottom line is that Hollande didn’t want Netanyahu raining on France’s parade.
Because France is different. France’s terrorism is not like Israel’s terrorism.
France’s terrorism is against liberté and equality and fraternity.
While in France’s eyes, as the French media pointed out, Israel’s terrorism stems from a political dispute.
And if France wasn’t sure Israel understood that message, if Bibi dared show up, France would condescendingly invite the head of the PLO to march next to Bibi just to make that point absolutely clear.
But to their dismay Netanyahu showed up, and he didn’t let them keep him in the second row, or put him on the second bus, and he didn’t stand next to the Munich Massacre financier Abu Mazen either.
And it was incredibly important that Netanyahu did all that.
Because while numerous countries around the world are dealing with Islamic terrorism, it is Israel that has faced it from the beginning, and has fought it, often quite alone, not just for Israel’s sake, but for the entire world’s.
Over the past few years so, the Jewish communities of France have been subject to terrorism and violent anti-Semitism. Terrorism because they were Jewish, not because they were French or drew some offensive cartoons.
The Islamic terrorist attacks in France last week were the natural evolution of those attacks on the Jewish people.
But when the Islamic terrorists murdered Ilan Halimi and the Jewish children in Toulouse, they weren’t just attacking some Jews, like the French perhaps thought. They were attacking France itself and the values it stands for. The Jews were just first in line.
Netanyahu’s participation at the front of the march, on the first bus, and in the Paris Synagogue were messages that France and Hollande need to hear – that Israel and the Jewish people are one, we stand together, and we lead the fight against Islamic terrorism for us and for you.
The terrorism that France faces is the same exact terrorism that Israel fights, and when that terrorism in France was primarily directed at Jews, when the French didn’t yet comprehend that it was also directed at them and at their liberté and democracy, we in Israel, we the Jewish people understood it completely.
Upon entering the Paris synagogue, Netanyahu was greeted with cheers and song, not because he is the Prime Minister of Israel, but because he is viewed as the Prime Minister of the Jewish people.
By snubbing Netanyahu, France wasn’t just snubbing Israel, it was snubbing France’s own Jewish citizens, it was belittling the previous terror attacks against France’s Jewish communities, and showing that France doesn’t yet fully comprehend the magnitude of its latest encounter with Islamic terror.
One hopes that Hollande and France will understand Netanyahu’s message, and realize that France must unconditionally stand with Israel against Islamic terror, just as Israel and the Jewish people stand with France in their hour of need, at the front of the line.
Many Muslims students in several French classrooms refused to stand up and participate on Sunday in a ceremonial minute of silence in memory of the victims in three murder sprees by radical Islamists in Paris last week.
Several Muslim students who had the decency to stand in solidarity against Islamic terror paid for their humanity by being beaten up by fellow Muslims.
Students in one 6th-grade class, referring to a cartoon linking the Prophet Mohammed with Islamic terror, told their teacher, “But you do not understand the Prophet [Mohammed]; they should not have to draw it.”
One student said, “I’m for those who killed [the victims],” Le Figaro reported, and a Muslim elementary school student said, “They had it coming.”
Approximately 80 percent of Muslim students in one class refused to stand in silence, and several of them suggested conspiracy theories to reject the idea that Muslims carried out the murders.
A radio call-in show broadcast comments by teachers that most Muslim students said they are loyal to Islam above allegiance to French values of equality and freedom.
An anti-Muslim backlash also has been noticeable in France, with several mosque desecrated in more than a dozen cities. However, the refusal of Muslim students to condemn the murders of four Jews at a kosher deli, and the slaughter at the offices of the satirical Charles Hebdo magazine underlined the problem for French President Françoise Hollande to convince citizens not to link Islamic terror with Islam.
A large number of Muslims stood with Jews and Christians at the rally, but the glaring difference between them and the rebellious Muslim students is age.
It is very reassuring to read foreign wire service reports that a 60-year-old Muslim shopkeeper stood at the rally with a hip Jewish singer, but many Muslims against terror are scared of the radical fundamentalists, most of them in the younger generation.
“I didn’t want to leave the house, I was mostly scared of retaliation,” said “Mohammed,” a secular Muslim.
Anti-Semitism, often expressed by anti-Zionism, is so deep and widespread that some Muslim leaders refused to attend Sunday’s solidarity rally because Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman attended.
The Committee against Islamophobia termed the Israeli leaders as “criminals.”
Below, French teachers tell a French radio show, with English sub-titles, what their Muslim students think of standing up against Islamic terror.
Funerals will be held in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul neighborhood at noon on Tuesday for the four Jews murdered in the terrorist attack on a kosher deli in Paris last Friday.
The burials will take place at the Har HaMenukhot cemetery, with the attendance of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin among other government officials, Knesset Members and rabbis.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with French Jewish leaders Monday morning and said that that terrorism will spread and worsen if the world does not join forces to fight it.
“Israel supports Europe in the struggle against terrorism and the time has come for Europe to support Israel in the exact same struggle, he said.
The Prime Minister tried to make believe that French officials did not want him to attend yesterday’s massive solidarity rally and said, “As soon as the security problem was resolved, thus allowing me to come, it was natural that I come here, it was important that I come here and therefore I came here.
“There is great significance in what the world saw, the Prime Minister of Israel marching with all the world leaders in a united effort against terrorism, or at least in a call for unity.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu also told French leaders, “Yesterday’s event in the La Victoire synagogue was emotional. I was also moved at the meeting with the bereaved families. I embraced the two brothers and I told them that I understand their feelings very well and that the entire Jewish People embraces the families. This was a moment of genuine Jewish solidarity. The visit to Paris was also a moment of general solidarity with humanity.”
France is bleeding Jews. The onslaught of radical Islamic terror combined with growing anti-Semitism has finally persuaded the country’s most loyal immigrants that it’s time to leave.
One of Britain’s most influential Jewish journalists, Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard, said on Friday, “Every single French Jew I know has either left or is actively working out how to leave.” Pollard’s comment came shortly after French police had ordered shops along Rue de Rosiers in the famous La Marais Jewish neighborhood to close in central Paris. The measure was taken as a precaution following the terror attack on the Hyper Cacher kosher grocery that left four people dead and others injured.
More than 100,000 French Jews have left the country since 2013, according to sources quoted by The Daily Mail. Pollard said in a tweet that the attack on Hyper Cacher was no “fluke.” He wrote in a series of posts on the Twitter social networking site, “So, it’s a fluke that the latest target is a kosher grocer, is it?
“What’s going on in France – outrages that have been getting worse for years – put our antisemitism (sic) problems in perspective,” he wrote.
The Jewish Agency for Israel, meanwhile, has told its staff to prepare for a wave of French aliyah. Chairman of the Executive of the Agency, Natan Sharansky accompanied Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the unity rally in Paris on Sunday. “The Jewish Agency embraces the French Jewish community at this difficult time and is extending its full support by helping provide for the physical security of Jewish communities across France, increasing our assistance to any individual who wishes to immigrate to Israel, and working to ease immigrants’ integration into the Israeli workforce and Israeli society,” he said.
There were 7,000 new immigrants from France in 2014, more than double the 3,400 who arrived in 2013 and triple the 1,900 who came in 2012, Sharansky noted. The French Jewish community is the third largest in the world after Israel and the United States, with some 500,000 Jews; but more than one percent of the entire community immigrated to Israel last year.
Even before last week’s reign of terror, Jewish Agency officials had predicted that the increase in French aliyah would continue, and that the number of immigrants from France could reach up to 10,000 in 2015. In the past year, at least 50,000 French Jews inquired about immigrating to Israel, according to Sharansky. The Jewish Agency is currently holding two information seminars daily in France, he added. They are leaving, he said, and “they want to live in a Jewish state.”
The Fund for Emergency Assistance to Jewish Communities, established following the 2012 attack on the Jewish elementary school in Toulouse, has provided Jewish communal institutions in France and elsewhere with the means to install and reinforce security measures where they are needed most, in order to also enable Jewish communal life to continue uninterrupted.
Meanwhile, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has already begun to roll out the red carpet.
At a rally at Jerusalem City Hall to show solidarity with the French people and the French Jewish community on Sunday, Barkat said, “Brothers and sisters – the gates of Jerusalem are open to you. Zion and the entire Jewish world stands beside you. Nous sommes tous Juifs de France, we are all Charlie, we are all Jews of France.”
The Jerusalem Municipality, under the directive of Mayor Barkat, will open a special situation room for new immigrants from France in order to assist them in their move to Jerusalem. At the entrance to City Hall, there is a special booth for immigrant absorption manned by French-speaking volunteers who will help the immigrants with all of their absorption needs.