French Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot 311 (R).
(photo credit: Pool / Reuters)
The number of anti-Semitic incidents continued to decline in France in 2011, and
there is no need for French Jews to be afraid in their country, ambassador
Christophe Bigot said on Monday.
Speaking to a small group of reporters
at the French Embassy in Tel Aviv, Bigot discussed a report released in late
January by the Jewish Community Protection Service, a watchdog group fighting
anti-Semitism in France, which showed a 16.5 percent decline in the number of
anti-Semitic acts recorded in 2010 in France. The number constitutes the lowest
figure since they started compiling the reports in 2002.
“I think it has
always been safe for the Jewish community in France,” Bigot said. He noted the
displeasure many authorities in France felt after Ariel Sharon in 2004 urged
French Jews to immigrate to Israel for their safety.
“We were very upset
when some Israelis were promoting aliya [from France] for security reasons; we
thought this was unfair and completely inaccurate. We respect aliya, but
we think it should be based on values, religion, family, a desire to be a part
of the project of Israel, and not out of fear.”
He added that he does not
believe there is any reason for a Jew in France to live in fear
The ambassador spoke of the issue as one that is of importance not
solely to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement Party. “The
awareness of the importance of fighting this [anti-Semitism] in the whole French
society both in the opposition and the majority is very broad,” he said, adding
that all of the main parties in France are “absolutely united to fight this
Bigot said he does not know how many of the anti-Semitic
acts were committed by Muslim immigrants, as in France they don’t differentiate
between people based on their religious status.
Bigot does not believe
there is a cause and effect between Israeli policies and the frequency of
While people “use whatever happens here in the
Middle East as a pretext for their acts, it’s just a pretext. It’s clear that
there are no causes or reasons for these actions,” he said.
He also spoke
of the severity with which the French government sees racially-motivated attacks
against Muslim or Arab citizens of the country.
The ambassador credited
increased police work and education programs meant to counter anti-Semitism for
the drop shown in the report, but clarified that there is still work to be
“Even one anti-Semitic act is one act too many,” he said.
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