“France, without the Jews of France, would not be France.”
President Hollande, a Socialist, and former President Sarkozy, of the right-wing UMP, both leaders of the two main political parties here, are avowedly pro-Jewish. However President Hollande’s youthful and charismatic Premier, Manuel Valls, married to a Jewish violinist, shows himself a doughty defender of Europe’s largest Jewish community, at every opportunity. This is politically courageous, as there are over 5 millions Muslims in France. Many of them, and many others, are not over fond of pro-Jewish politicians.
Monsieur Valls has just called for a “Rebellion against anti-Semitism,” to a stunned National Assembly. Pounding his fists in the air, consumed with anger, after a rape and burglary in Créteil of a Jewish couple, Monsieur Valls’ indignation silenced French Parliamentarians. Visibly moved, they strained to hear every word.
“An ancient and perfidious Evil has carried detestation of the Jewish People across the centuries, often under cover of anti-Zionism and hatred of Israel,“ began the Prime Minister. He noted the doubling of attacks on French Jews in 2014 compared to 2013. “We hear the anxiety of our Jewish compatriots. “
After expressing his compassion for the “all too many victims of anti-Semitism, not only in Créteil but also those who don’t make the front-page of the newspapers,” he turned to the Jewish Community’s own concerns. “I know many are thinking of leaving, worried and doubting the ability of France to protect them. I want to tell them, in front of you [the National Assembly,] that France without the Jews of France would not be France.”
“It’s important that the Government takes steps,” he said, and then reminded Parliament of the practical steps he has already taken. “We did this a few days ago in setting up an enhanced and better resourced inter-ministerial committee, because there is a considerable amount of work to do in society. I call for the mobilization of society. I was astonished that the violence [in Créteil] did not arouse greater anger.” He detailed his own rage. “Some years ago, there would have been tens of thousands protesting in the streets. I am astonished that the press hasn’t reported it as the lead story. I am astonished that the intellectuals, the forces of our society, are not more angry. We need a cry of anger.”
After referring to the French Resistance and to the Holocaust, he called for a “Rebellion by French Society.”
“How can one permit anti-Semitic acts?” the Prime Minister thundered. “How can one allow anti-Semitic words?”.
He ended by reiterating his call for a rebellion of French Society “because we cannot accept anti-Semitic acts in the France of Human Rights.” “Of course,” he reminded us “The Law, the Courts and the Police have a role to play, but” he emphasized with a concluding call for action, “All of society must reject anti-Semitism and racism.”
Since the speech, French security forces have arrested several suspected Jihadis, including in Toulouse, scene of the brutal murders of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler and two schoolchildren by Mohammed Merah in 2012.
“French Jewry’s best friend” was how his anti-socialist opponent, Meyer Habib MP, a close friend of Benjamin Netanyahu, and a former Vice-President of CRIF (a gallic equivalent of the Board of Deputies) described Monsieur Valls to me. That commendation was given despite Vall’s Parliament’s vote in favour of recognition of a Palestinian State.
Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia has publicly stated French Jewry’s full confidence in Valls’ government.
Watch out for Manuel Valls. He himself will be President one day, and a dynamic and forceful example of leadership generally to all of The World.
An excellent way to see French Jewry at its finest is to attend Limoud France, taking place just outside Paris from 27 February to 1 March 2015. See http://www.limoud.eu/
Copyright Andrew M. Rosemarine 2014