Rabin Square lit to honor of France after Paris terror attack in country's colors.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square filled with thousands of Israelis Saturday night standing in solidarity with France following the deadly terrorist attacks on Paris a day earlier.
The crowd waved French and Israeli flags and signs reading “Tel Aviv stands with Paris,” in front of city hall, which was lit to look like a giant French flag, and burst into an impromptu rendition of “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem, while waiting for the speeches to begin.
“Thank you for your presence,” French Ambassador Patrick Maisonnave told the gathering. “It is a vivid testimony to the fact that France is not alone in this struggle.”
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Maisonnave posited that his country was struck by terrorism, whose “cruelty knows no limits,” because it is fighting terrorism and the Islamic State, in particular.
“Democracies do not seek vengeance, they seek justice. The fight against radical Islam is our common struggle. Let us unite around the values of liberté, egalité and fraternité,” he said in French and English.
Interior Minister Silvan Shalom said the people of Israel stand with France, adding that the attack on Paris “reminds us of what is happening here on a daily basis, unfortunately.
“We remember attacks on Toulouse, Hyper Cacher, Ilan Halimi. They told us it’s just attacks against Jews. We said no, terrorism is terrorism is terrorism.
Yesterday it’s France, tomorrow it can happen in other countries in Europe,” he stated.
Speaking first in French, then in English and Hebrew, Shalom called on the free world “to be united and decide to combat terrorism. If we decide to do so, we will prevail.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said the terrorists attacked the French values that became universal – liberty, equality and brotherhood, but declared that “Paris will remain the city of light and of enlightenment.
“We are here from the entire nation, if I may, standing united in expressing brotherhood with the French people... We express deep solidarity with the pain of the French people,” he said.
Former president Shimon Peres also addressed the crowd, in French and Hebrew, saying Israelis, “stand shoulder to shoulder in war against barbaric terrorism that harms innocent people around the world.
“Your war is our war. Your values are our values. They are the values of the enlightened world,” he said, thanking France for standing with Israel in its most difficult hours.
Before the politicians spoke, Israelis in the crowd made very similar statements of solidarity in the fight against terrorism.
Hadas Shlagman of Tel Aviv called herself “a citizen of the world” and said she felt like she was in Paris.
“This is a universal problem today. It’s not just us or Paris,” Shlagman said. “Radical Islam is slowly, slowly taking over Europe and, who knows, maybe the whole world. This is a war, and the time has come for the world to be more aware. We Israelis are the most aware.”
Rotem Meir, of Ramat Gan, said he felt he “had to stand in solidarity with the French” and called on the French government to “stop being so humane... and think twice before judging others.”
Referring to the French proposal to declare a Palestinian state in the UN, Meir said, “Maybe they’ll learn force should be used against someone else, not Israel and not Jews.”
Stephane Dor of Tel Aviv, who made aliya from France 40 years ago, said “the war on terror is international; it is not just here in Israel.”
“I want to show solidarity and fight this insanity together, without hatred, but to find a solution. This isn’t just our war or France’s war. It’s a war against the whole free world,” she said.