French Prime Minister Manuel Valls leaves after a speech to present a plan to fight racism and anti-Semitism at the Prefecture in Creteil near Paris April 17, 2015. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was honored by a gathering of European rabbis on Tuesday for his “exemplary determination in the fight against anti-Semitism,” less than a month after he announced the beginning of a massive national effort to combat the rising levels of anti-Jewish incidents in his country.
The €100 million plan includes regular monitoring of racism and anti-Semitism in order to generate data; protect Jewish and Muslim houses of worship and communal institutions; and push back against discrimination.
“We made the decision to award Prime Minister Valls the Lord Jakobovits Prize after the decisive action Prime Minister Valls took to protect the people the Jews of France from the mobs who were about to make a pogrom against our people and our synagogues,” said Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, which is currently holding its annual convocation in Toulouse.
“There are some voices asking if there is a future for the Jewish people in Europe. I say this question can only be answered by European governments themselves. And, if that answer is to be a positive, then they must follow the example of Prime Minister Valls,” Goldschmidt said.
Incidents of violent anti-Semitism jumped 40 percent worldwide over the past 18 months.
France, once again, led the pack with 164 recorded incidents in 2014, up from 141 the previous year.
This includes the shooting of four shoppers at a kosher market in Paris in January, as well as incidents of arson, rape, verbal abuse and other forms of physical aggression.
The CER convention has brought together more than 200 rabbis from across the continent, including chief rabbis from a number of European nations as well as from Israel.
The choice of Toulouse, where an Islamist gunman killed four Jews, including three children, in 2012, “allows us to commemorate the attacks and put into place vital plans for the future of the European Jewish Community,” Goldschmidt said.