French President Francois Hollande told Jews this week, “Your place is here; France is your country.”
“You, French people of the Jewish place, your place is here, in your home. France is your country,” French President Francois Hollande told French Jews in a speech to mark 70 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi death camps.
Hollande seemed intent on rebuffing remarks by Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu who told traumatized Jews after a series of horrifying terror attacks in Paris that the Jewish State and the Jewish People – their people – waited to welcome them home. Netanyahu told French Jews they were no longer trapped in Europe to suffer anti-Semitic attacks as they once were decades ago because Israel exists now, today.
“France is your homeland,” Hollande contended on Tuesday in his speech to Jews at the Shoah Memorial in Paris. He vowed to combat the “unbearable” rising anti-Semitism in France, which he said would protect “all its children and tolerate no insult, no outrage, no desecration.”
In the presence of five Holocaust survivors of the camps, Hollande asked rhetorically, “How in 2015 can we accept that we need armed soldiers to protect the Jewish of France?” He promised to continue protection at Jewish institutions such as synagogues, schools, community culture centers and businesses.
Yet a French soldier “protecting” one of those sites himself became a liability within just a few days: a burst of gunfire suddenly was heard as the soldier accidentally hit the trigger while playing with his assault rifle. Miraculously no one was hurt.
Anti-Semitic attacks in France doubled last year to nearly 1,000 incidents.
The series of attacks that sparked a four million-strong protest in France began Jan. 7 with a Paris bloodbath at the French satiric weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo, where 12 people were slaughtered and others wounded.
That launched a three-day series of terror attacks culminating in a hostage crisis and murder of four victims with others also wounded by a member of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) at the Hyper Cacher kosher grocery in Paris.
Three other attacks were carried out by the same terrorists, who included a team of two brothers who were members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
A fifth member of the cell surrendered earlier in that week of terror; a sixth fled the country just prior to the final siege. At least half a dozen others who collaborated in the attacks were at large but were being hunted down and detained.
Currently in France there are some 550,000 Jews, in contrast to more than six million Muslim immigrants. Last year some 7,000 Jews left France, more than twice as many as in 2013. It is expected that at least 10,000 will abandon the country in 2015 due to rising anti-Semitism.Hana Levi Julian