The same hatred that is directed by jihadists against Israel is directed against the Jews of France, Joel Margi, the president of the Consistoire, the umbrella organization of Jewish congregations in France, told President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday.
Margi, who is heading a Consistoire solidarity delegation to Israel, said in reference to Operation Protective Edge: “We understand that the war in which Israel is engaged is one that should be fought by every democracy, because what is happening today is in some respects similar to Nazism.”
The Consistoire lobbies mayors and government ministers to create more awareness of anti-Semitic manifestations, said Margi. “The new anti-Semitism in France is also anti-Israelism. This is both your war and our war.”
Rivlin commended French President François Hollande and his administration for the strong stand that France has taken with regard to anti-Semitism.
Turning closer to home, he explained some of Israel’s dilemmas to his guests, and added that Israel is at a definitive time in its history, battling against the radical fundamentalism of Hamas.
The struggle is not Israel’s alone, he emphasized, citing the recent declarations by Islamic insurgents of the formation of a caliphate and the proclamation of an Islamic state.
What is happening in the immediate region cannot be compared to what is happening in Iraq, Rivlin acknowledged, but added that it does raise a lot of questions in the world.
Up until 20 years ago, when war was one state fighting against another, it was easier to reach some kind of accommodation, Rivlin said.
But today, when a state is fighting a terrorist movement, there are no rules and additional sophistication is required when fighting terrorism.
The world does not understand the terrorists’ mentality or their methods, he asserted, which is one of the reasons that there are allegations of genocide against Israel.
The terrorists always put civilians at risk to save their own skins or to carry out another assault, and Israel always has to take the possibility of civilian casualties into account when retaliating against attack, Rivlin said.
In a reference to the intensity of rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, Rivlin said that whenever someone argues about the paucity of Israeli casualties, his own retort is: “Think of what would be the outcome if only 5 percent of the rockets found their mark.”
No one in the region likes Hamas, he said, “but they don’t like Israel either.”
Margi spoke of the situation of the French Jewish community, and said that over the past 10 years some 30,000 French Jews have immigrated to Israel.
Every year there is a mega function at the Great Synagogue in Paris for those who are emigrating that is attended by the chief rabbis of France and of Paris, who give the emigrants their blessing. The next event of this kind will take place in a few months time, he said, adding that it would have great bearing on the community if the president of Israel were to attend, and that it will help to strengthen ties between French Jewry and Israel and will contribute substantially to the improvement of Israel’s image.