PARIS (EJP) — ‘’Denying the existence of Israel is the first step towards anti-Semitism’’, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared at a ceremony held Thursday at the Great Synagogue of rue de la Victoire in Paris where he sent greetings to the Jewish community of France on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which will be celebrated next week.
Speaking to more than thousand representatives of the French Jewish community, he also assured them that the fight against anti-Semitism is a national cause.
‘To be a Jew, to be French, French and Jewish identities are inseparabl,’’ Valls said as recent months have been marked by a new rise of anti-Semitism in the country. According to the Service for the Protection of the Jewish community of France (SPCJ), a 91% increase in anti-Jewish acts was recorded in the first seven months of the year. 527 anti-Semitic acts (acts or threats) were recorded between January 1 and July 31, 2014, against 276 in the first seven months of 2013. Anti-Semitic violence, attacks or attempted attacks, fires, damage and vandalism rose more than threats (gestures, tracts, letters, graffiti…
The surge is particularly significant in the category ‘violent’ acts: +126 % compared to the same period in 2013, SPCJ said.
One remembers the violent demonstrations in Paris and other cities during the Israeli operation against Hamas in Gaza when several synagogues and Jewish businesses were attacked and ‘Death to the Jews’ were heard during pro-Gaza rallies.
Questioned by the President of the Consistory Joel Mergui, on the measures taken by the French authorities to ensure the safety of the Jewish community and its places of worship, Manuel Valls assured that the government announced the redesign of the national action plan against racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia intended to make it ‘’more ambitious’’.
‘’Yes, the fight against racism and anti-Semitism is a great national cause,’’ Valls stressed, adding that this will not be enough. ‘’When you’re French, you defend this cause, you are mobilized and you go out in the street,’’ he said.
Earlier in the week, Mergui deplored in interviews in the the French media that there was no ‘’awakening’’ of consciences in the French society after the murders committed by Mohamed Merah in Toulouse in a Jewish school.
‘’On the contrary, in the days that followed, we saw on the Net people identifying with the killer. Evil has continued to grow. There was no awakening of consciences. Since then, a young French Mehdi Nemmouche, committed a massacre in Brussels,’’ he deplored, in a reference to the attack against a Jewish Museum in Brussels where four people were killed in May.
CRIF, the umbrella representative group of France’s Jewish community, also denounced ‘’’a growing unease among Jews in France which hinders their future.’’
While a growing number of Jews are leaving France, the French Prime Minister, whose wife his Jewish, assured that ‘’the government closely monitors that the safety of the community is guaranteed everywhere, all the time.’’