French President François Hollande on Thursday promised to “relentlessly fight against anti- Semitism.”
He spoke in Toulouse, at a ceremony with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to honor the memory of four Jewish terror victims from that city.
“The Jews of France must be aware that the republic will do everything it can to protect them and to give them security,” Hollande said.
“Their security is in the national interest of all the French,” he said.
two peoples are united and showed solidarity. We are here together to honor the
victims of anti-Semitism, of racism and terrorism.”
He promised to work
to combat not just anti-Semitic acts, but verbal anti-Jewish hatred, including
on social media platforms.
His government just filed a bill to better
empower the authorities to combat terrorism.
“We will show no pity for
those who have visited parts of the world where they were exposed to the worst
ideologies of hatred,” he said.
Hollande pledged to fully investigate the
seven deaths last spring.
“I want the truth to be fully revealed. We must
draw all the lessons we can from this tragedy,” he said.
said, “was established after the Holocaust as a refuge for the Jewish
That is why every time a Jew is a target because he or she is
Jewish, Israel is concerned.”
To Netanyahu, he said, “That is the meaning
of your presence here today.”
In his speech, Netanyahu made a similar
link between the attack and the Holocaust.
“If he [Merah] could, he would
have murdered each and every Jewish child he encountered, just like the Nazis,”
the prime minister said.
Thankfully, he noted, there have been
significant changes since World War II, when European governments did little to
prevent the Nazis’ rise to power.
“Today, my friend, the president of
France, François Hollande, is standing here, speaking firmly against
anti-Semitism and fighting determinedly to eliminate it,” Netanyahu
History has shown that hatred of Jews quickly spreads to attacks
against other groups, he said.
“If you fail to extinguish the flame of
anti-Semitism when it starts, it becomes a great fire that consumes everything
that stands in its way,” Netanyahu said.
“It is by no accident that the
Toulouse murderer killed not only Jews, but also French soldiers,
indiscriminately – Christians and Muslims alike. These murderers’ barbaric
hatred threatens not only Jews, but civilization as a whole,” the prime minister
Terrorists such as Merah will not succeed in breaking the Jewish
spirit, he said.
“I came here from Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the
people of Israel, to say with you – in the face of all of Israel’s haters –
three clear words: Am Israel Chai!” Netanyahu said.
Christophe Bigot told The Jerusalem Post, before getting on the plane that took
Netanyahu back to Israel, that it was an “historic” and emotional
It “embodied the spirit of partnership and friendship” between
France and Israel, Bigot said.
The two nations were joined by their
battle against terrorism and anti-Semitism, the ambassador said.
he hoped that in the future a policeman would no longer be needed to guard the
Jewish school in Toulouse and parents would not be anxious when they left their
The ceremony marked the end of a very positive two-day
visit, Bigot said, in which Netanyahu met with France’s top leaders, including
the president and the prime minister.
It was Netanyahu’s first visit to
Paris since Hollande took office.
On Wednesday, Hollande and Netanyahu
spoke for three hours, including extensive conversations on Iran and the
In light of upcoming events, it was
important for the two leaders to take time to build the foundation for a strong
relationship, Bigot said.
“We will face difficult moments in the upcoming
months and we will have to deal with this in the spirit of friendship,” he said.