PARIS – A couple of thousand people gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in
Paris Tuesday evening in a peaceful demonstration supporting the country during
Operation Pillar of Defense.
As dozens of policemen in riot gear
patrolled the adjacent Champs Elysees, Jewish community leaders, local
politicians and representatives of pro-Israel groups took to the stage to
denounce Hamas rocket attacks and call for the French government to back the
The demonstration was organized by the French Jewish
umbrella organization, CRIF, and several other community groups, including B’nai
French Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim came to the microphone first,
delivering a poetic speech about “friends and family living for years to the
rhythm of missiles and sirens.”
Addressing all of France’s rabbis and
imams, he said that if they chose to invoke the situation in the Middle East
during their sermons, they must do so with respect for the gravity of the
Claude Goasguen, mayor of the 16th arrondissement – an area of
Paris with a large Jewish population – was one of several speakers to criticize
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius for his alleged failure to back Israel
unequivocally. Each mention of Fabius’s name elicited jeers from a large
proportion of the crowd.
Other speakers included the president of the
Society of Armenian Support for Israel, who declared that “Israel is not a
terrorist state,” before shouting, “Am Yisrael hai!” (the people of Israel live)
into the microphone.
The crowd, which numbered around 2,000 according to
a local television crew, contained a diverse mix of young and old.
waved Israeli and French flags, or held placards with the message that France
and other Western nations must support Israel and confront
Annabelle Timsit, a recent high school graduate who works at
the Paris Holocaust Memorial, told The Jerusalem Post that she hoped people of
all religions would come to show their support for the fact that Israel was
defending itself and not attacking poor civilians, “as the media would like us
Meir Djeb was there along with several other members of the
Federation of Black Jews, an organization representing Paris’s approximately 250
black Jewish families. The group’s members come mainly from Israel, Ethiopia,
South Africa, Zimbabwe, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria.
“We are united behind
the Israeli people and Tzahal [the Israel Defense Forces],” Djeb told the Post.
“It is very important that all of Europe knows that the real terrorists are