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 Jewish state.

The demonstration was organized by the French Jewish umbrella organization, CRIF, and several other community groups, including B’nai B’rith.


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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 situation.

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.

Many waved Israeli and French flags, or held placards with the message that France and other Western nations must support Israel and confront terrorism.

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 to believe.”

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 Hamas.”

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