Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (far right) alongside hundreds showing solidarity with France, January 11, 2014.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Holding black placards stating “Israel is Charlie,” “I’m a Jew from France,” and “Jerusalem is Charlie,” hundreds of Israelis gathered at Jerusalem’s City Hall Sunday afternoon to show solidarity with French terror victims following the recent spate of attacks in Paris.
The vigil, organized by the Jerusalem Municipality, was largely attended by the capital’s Israeli French community, who overflowed a sixth-floor council hall to condemn ongoing anti-Semitism against France’s Jewish population.
“The whole world now understands what we have experienced for decades in Israel and Jerusalem,” said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, standing on a podium adjacent to a large screen with the words “Jerusalem is Charlie” projected below intersecting French and Israeli flags.
“This is the same murderous terror causing burning hatred against our common values,” he said.
Last week’s massacres at Charlie Hebdo and a kosher store in Paris are “an attack on all of us: the Jewish people, freedom of the press, the freedom of expression, and on the souls of France and all Western democracies,” Barkat said.
“That hatred, which calls for death, does not stop with Jews,” he cautioned.
Stating that “we are all French Jews today,” Barkat implored concerned Jewish French citizens to consider immigrating to Israel.
“To our brothers and sisters: The gates of Jerusalem and Israel are open to you,” he said.
To that end, Barkat said he has initiated a special situation room manned by French-speaking volunteers to assist in absorbing France’s fleeing Jewish citizens.
Additionally, the mayor said he will erect a memorial in Paris, and hang 1,500 municipal, French and Israeli flags throughout Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, Dov Maisel, director of international operations at United Hatzalah, which provides emergency medical care in Israel and for Jewish communities abroad, said he is in contact with leading members of France’s Jewish community.
“Terror on the streets of Toulouse is no different from terror on the streets of Tel Aviv,” he said. “The United Hatzalah model that saves lives in Israel can save lives in France. United Hatzalah sent a delegation to the event at the Jerusalem Municipality to declare that we stand strong with our brothers and sisters in France.”
Following the rally, French Israeli couple Laurent and Elizabeth Keren lamented that they are growing increasingly fearful for the welfare of their Jewish friends and families in France.
“Until now we thought [the situation] was OK, but with this terrorist attack, we now think that it’s not safe for the people in France to continue going to synagogue, shops and Jewish schools,” said Laurent.
“It’s not an isolated incident – it’s getting worse,” he said.