Paris, 10 August 2022

In the early 1980s, terrorists launched a series of 73 shootings and bombings of Jewish and Israeli targets in Europe, of which 29 in France.

Rue Copernic, 3 October 1980

It began with the attack on the Paris Copernic Synagogue on 3 October 1980, the eve of Sukkot. On the corner of Copernic lived the renowned journalist, Tamar Golan. I had come to wish her a good holiday.

Just arrived from Israel for the week-end, was Aliza Shagrir, wife of well-known film maker Micha. She asked Tamar if anything was needed for dinner. The hostess replied, “perhaps a few figs. Go down with Shimon and he’ll show you the fruit shop opposite the synagogue.”

We went to the corner, she turned into rue Copernic, I went straight ahead. I heard the bomb, felt the shock wave which killed Aliza and three others, leaving also 16 wounded inside the synagogue.

The following morning, then Prime Minister Raymond Barre made the memorable statement: “This odious bombing wanted to strike Jews... and it hit innocent Frenchmen..."

A year later, President Giscard d’Estaing said, “I lost my elections at Copernic,” as he refused to return to Paris from his hunting week-end.

The Copernic bomber was found in Ottawa, Canada, working as a sociology professor. After lengthy proceedings, in 2011 Hassan Diab was extradited to France to stand trial in Paris. In January 2018, Diab used a discharge as a window of opportunity to escape back to Canada – while an appeal against him was still pending.

Rue des Rosiers, 9 August 1982

At the end of 2020, the Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels, commended Norway for the arrest and extradition of Walid Abdulrahman Abu Zayed, one of the three suspects in the “Abu Nidal Organization” terrorist attack of 9 August 1982 on the Goldenberg restaurant of Rue des Rosiers, in the Jewish quarter of Paris.

In a letter to French Justice Minister, Eric Dupond-Moretti, Samuels recalled that “the attack with machine guns, pistols and grenades, came at lunchtime in a restaurant seating over fifty diners, leaving six dead and twenty-two wounded... Recent attempts to extradite to France the two other suspects were rebuffed by their Jordanian sanctuary.”

The letter also explained that “an Israeli incursion into Southern Lebanon in 1982 resulted in European terrorists and their trainers fleeing Palestinian training camps, and returning to their countries of origin. Once home, their subsequent attacks on banks, officials and embassies led governments to crack down... in France through the Vigipirate security alert programme. Indeed, as our mentor, Simon Wiesenthal, would say, ‘What begins with the Jews does not end with them’.”

He was later informed that, “following the attack, a ‘verbal deal’ was struck by French foreign intelligence, the DST, with the Abu Nidal terrorist group: to the effect that ‘they could enter France as long as there were no further attacks on French soil’. Three years ago, the ‘deal’ was admitted in an interview with then head of the DST, Yves Bonnet.”

Samuels stressed that “Abu Zayed has evaded justice for 38 years, evoking Simon Wiesenthal’s credo on war criminals: ‘Longevity is not an excuse for impunity’.”... The Rue des Rosiers and the Copernic families of victims and survivors deserve closure... Abu Zayed’s extradition to Paris must not end like Hassan Diab’s.”

The Centre urged the Justice Minister to ensure that this does not become another case of “Justice delayed, Justice denied.”

The letter was shared with French President, Emmanuel Macron.