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We Haven't Shown Enough Outrage: French PM Denounces Anti-Semitism

This week, four Jewish men killed in the Paris kosher market attack were buried in Israel. France is burying the other victims of last week’s horrifying terrorism. Speaking after the funerals of several victims, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls spoke out strongly and courageously against the growing wave of anti-Semitism facing his nation and the world:

Valls was determined to highlight the threat posed by antisemitism, declaring: “I say to the people in general who perhaps have not reacted sufficiently up to now, and to our Jewish compatriots, that this time [antisemitism] cannot be accepted.”

The address brought to mind the impassioned “J’Accuse” letter, penned by the great French writer Emile Zola in 1898, in response to the antisemitism displayed by the French government during the infamous trial of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, the Jewish military officer who was convicted and publicly humiliated on fabricated charges of treason. In that letter, Zola spoke with disgust “of the hunting for the ‘dirty Jews,’ which dishonors our time.”

When Valls asked with anger, “How can we accept that cries of  ‘death to the Jews’ can be heard on the streets?” the echoes of Zola’s words were unmistakable.

In his speech, Valls was explicit that the “first question that has to be dealt with clearly is the struggle against antisemitism.”

“History has taught us that the awakening of antisemitism is the symptom of a crisis for democracy and of a crisis for the Republic. That is why we must respond with force,” Valls said. Recalling a series of antisemitic outrages in France in recent years, such as the abduction, torture and murder of the young Parisian Jew Ilan Halimi in 2006, the murder of three small children and a rabbi by an Islamist gunman at a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012, and the rape of a young Jewish woman during an antisemitic assault on a Jewish home in the Paris suburb of Creteil in December 2014, Valls asserted that these and other incidents “did not not produce the national outrage that our Jewish compatriots expected.”

“How can we accept that in France, where the Jews were emancipated two centuries ago, but which was also where they were martyred [during the Nazi Holocaust] 70 years ago, that cries of  ‘death to the Jews’ can be heard on the streets?” Valls asked, the indignation in his voice steadily rising. “How can we accept that French people can be murdered for being Jews? How can we accept that compatriots, or a Tunisian citizen whose father sent him to France so that he would be safe, is killed when he goes out to buy his bread for Shabbat?”

Valls observed that there “is a historical antisemitism that goes back centuries.” But, he added, “there is also a new antisemitism that is born in our neighborhoods, coming through the internet, satellite dishes, against the backdrop of loathing of the State of Israel, which advocates hatred of the Jews and all the Jews.”

Implored the French Prime Minister: “It has to be spelled out – the right words must be used to fight this unacceptable antisemitism.”

Valls emphasized an additional point that he has made repeatedly over the last few days: that a France shorn of its Jewish community would no longer be France. “This is the message we have to communicate loud and clear,” he said. “How can we accept that in certain schools and colleges the Holocaust can’t be taught? How can we accept that when a child is asked, ‘who is your enemy,’ the response is ‘the Jew?’  When the Jews of France are attacked, France is attacked, the conscience of humanity is attacked. Let us never forget that.”

Tags: Anti-Semitism , Europe

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