Hollande vows to ‘relentlessly fight anti-Semitism’

“Jews of France must be aware that the republic will do everything to protect them and to give them security,” says French president.

Eva Sandler, who lost husband in attack, with PM, Hollande 3 (photo credit: Eva Sandler, who lost husband in attack, with PM, )
Eva Sandler, who lost husband in attack, with PM, Hollande 3
(photo credit: Eva Sandler, who lost husband in attack, with PM, )
French President François Hollande on Thursday promised to “relentlessly fight against anti- Semitism.”
He spoke in Toulouse, at a ceremony with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to honor the memory of four Jewish terror victims from that city.
“The Jews of France must be aware that the republic will do everything it can to protect them and to give them security,” Hollande said.
“Their security is in the national interest of all the French,” he said.
two peoples are united and showed solidarity. We are here together to honor the victims of anti-Semitism, of racism and terrorism.”
He promised to work to combat not just anti-Semitic acts, but verbal anti-Jewish hatred, including on social media platforms.
His government just filed a bill to better empower the authorities to combat terrorism.
“We will show no pity for those who have visited parts of the world where they were exposed to the worst ideologies of hatred,” he said.
Hollande pledged to fully investigate the seven deaths last spring.
“I want the truth to be fully revealed. We must draw all the lessons we can from this tragedy,” he said.
Israel, Hollande said, “was established after the Holocaust as a refuge for the Jewish people.
That is why every time a Jew is a target because he or she is Jewish, Israel is concerned.”
To Netanyahu, he said, “That is the meaning of your presence here today.”
In his speech, Netanyahu made a similar link between the attack and the Holocaust.
“If he [Merah] could, he would have murdered each and every Jewish child he encountered, just like the Nazis,” the prime minister said.
Thankfully, he noted, there have been significant changes since World War II, when European governments did little to prevent the Nazis’ rise to power.
“Today, my friend, the president of France, François Hollande, is standing here, speaking firmly against anti-Semitism and fighting determinedly to eliminate it,” Netanyahu said.
History has shown that hatred of Jews quickly spreads to attacks against other groups, he said.
“If you fail to extinguish the flame of anti-Semitism when it starts, it becomes a great fire that consumes everything that stands in its way,” Netanyahu said.
“It is by no accident that the Toulouse murderer killed not only Jews, but also French soldiers, indiscriminately – Christians and Muslims alike. These murderers’ barbaric hatred threatens not only Jews, but civilization as a whole,” the prime minister said.
Terrorists such as Merah will not succeed in breaking the Jewish spirit, he said.
“I came here from Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the people of Israel, to say with you – in the face of all of Israel’s haters – three clear words: Am Israel Chai!” Netanyahu said.
French Ambassador Christophe Bigot told The Jerusalem Post, before getting on the plane that took Netanyahu back to Israel, that it was an “historic” and emotional ceremony.
It “embodied the spirit of partnership and friendship” between France and Israel, Bigot said.
The two nations were joined by their battle against terrorism and anti-Semitism, the ambassador said.
He said he hoped that in the future a policeman would no longer be needed to guard the Jewish school in Toulouse and parents would not be anxious when they left their children there.
The ceremony marked the end of a very positive two-day visit, Bigot said, in which Netanyahu met with France’s top leaders, including the president and the prime minister.
It was Netanyahu’s first visit to Paris since Hollande took office.
On Wednesday, Hollande and Netanyahu spoke for three hours, including extensive conversations on Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In light of upcoming events, it was important for the two leaders to take time to build the foundation for a strong relationship, Bigot said.
“We will face difficult moments in the upcoming months and we will have to deal with this in the spirit of friendship,” he said.