Friday, 12 Aug 2022 - 15 of Av, 5782

French President Macron and Israeli President Herzog attend memorial marking ten years since terror attack against Jewish school

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In March 2012, Islamist terrorist Mohamed Merah killed three French soldiers in Montauban killing and days later he shot two children, Myriam Monsonego, 7 years old, and Gabriel Sandler, 3 years old, at close range in the playground of the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse. A few seconds earlier, Arie Sandler, 6, and his father Jonathan Sandler, a school teacher, were shot by the helmeted killer.

The French president said the fight against anti-Semitism is “a fight that we must wage for France itself and the Republic itself. Because anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are the enemies of our Republic. And we know, since our country was hit by a wave of attacks, since the war rages in Europe, that freedom is not a state of affairs but a conquest of each day, a conquest of the heart, of the intelligence, for peace.”

 

“Ten years have passed. Ten years that will never make us forget this month of March 2012 when the explosions of hatred and fire struck Montauban and Toulouse three times” said French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday as he addressed in Toulouse a ceremony commemorating the tenth anniversary of these attacks perpetrated by Islamist terrorist Mohamed Merah.

In March 2012, Merah killed three French soldiers in Montauban killing and days later he shot two children, Myriam Monsonego, 7 years old, and Gabriel Sandler, 3 years old, at close range in the playground of the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse. A few seconds earlier, Arie Sandler, 6, and his father Jonathan Sandler, a school teacher, were shot by the helmeted killer.

“Through them, it is our nation that was struck to the heart by destructive madness and religion betrayed,” said Macron at the ceremony attended by Israeli President Isaac Herzog. “We are here, ten years later, still, together. Because we are stronger than the terrorists,” he added.

The French president said the fight against anti-Semitism is “a fight that we must wage for France itself and the Republic itself. Because anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are the enemies of our Republic. And we know, since our country was hit by a wave of attacks, since the war rages in Europe, that freedom is not a state of affairs but a conquest of each day, a conquest of the heart, of the intelligence, for peace.”

The terrorist, who was trained with jihadist groups in Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, was shot dead by a police tactical unit days later during a 30-hour siege at his apartment building.

The four victims of the Toulouse Jewish school attack were buried at the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem.

President Herzog  also spoke during the memorial ceremony. Besides President Macron, Jewish community leaders, heads of Jewish organizations in France, former French Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, former French premiers, local leaders and Jewish community representatives also participated in the memorial.

‘’Even today, we hear about antisemitic incidents around the world and witness unimaginable hatred on social media. We must keep working at the political, judicial, and educational level.We must clearly and vocally condemn racism and antisemitism; we must fight it without compromise,’’ said Herzog.

The Israeli president thanked France for adopting the  IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition of antisemitis. ‘’It is an important step by the government of France to fight antisemitism. I also want to thank you for the major effort by the government of France and security authorities in recent years to safeguard the security of Jewish communities,’’ he added.

Samuel Sandler, father and grandfather of Jonathan, Gabriel and Arie, killed by an Islamist terrorist, speak with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and French President Emmanuel Macron.

‘’The forms of antisemitism include expressions and acts of hatred toward the state of the Jews, the State of Israel, and of a desire to annihilate it. Iran is the main driver of this agenda. It feeds it, foments it, and enflames antisemitism. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards are a central actor in the spread of terror and hate,’’ Herzog said.

Before the two presidents spoke, Samuel Sandler, father and grandfather of Jonathan, Gabriel and Arie, declared: ‘’Since that carnage, I have been living under anesthesia, like a ghost. Their absence haunts me,” he said, believing that “the war” against his people, the Jews, “has never stopped.”

Earlier on Sunday, President Herzog started his state visit to France with a  diplomatic meeting with President Macron in Paris.

 

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