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Paris, 2 November 2023

1) I arrived in Paris in 1979, following the bombing of a centre for Jewish students (33 wounded). The perpetrators claimed to be an “anti-Zionists Collective”.

2) On 3 October 1980, the day of Succoth, I accompanied Aliza Shagrir, visiting from Israel, to a fruit shop. I went straight, she walked towards the Copernic synagogue and died in the blast of a terrorist attack (4 dead and about 40 wounded). The following morning, then French Prime Minister, Raymond Barre, stated: “This heinous attack which wanted to strike the Israelites who were going to the synagogue struck innocent French people.” Aliza was Israeli.

3) Over the following decade, a string of terror pervaded France. This included the murder of Israeli Embassy official, Yacov Bar-Simantov, by Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, leader of the FARL (a pro-Palestinian Marxist group based in Lebanon). Abdallah is presently serving a life sentence in France, but extreme-left militants are campaigning for his release daily. In 1982, the Palestinian Abu-Nidal Organization gun rampage killed 6 and wounded 33 in the Rue des Rosiers “Chez Goldenberg” restaurant. Israel responded by entering Southern Lebanon, to hit the training camps for European terrorists. Fleeing back home and endangering the so-called "innocents”, the French, German and Italian authorities had to crack down effectively.

4) After this phase of non-native murderers, France saw a wave of immigrant Islamists rising from the slums surrounding major cities. The January 2006 kidnapping, torture and murder of Ilan Halimi was perpetrated by a ragtag cell of 20 (labelled as the “Gang of Barbarians”). Their Franco-Ivorian leader was directing negotiations by phone from Africa, the gaolers or torturers had different origins, one from Martinique, others of North-African descent. Their common denominator was antisemitism.

5) Galvanized by the surge of global terrorism, a lone wolf terrorist attacked the Toulouse Ozar Hatorah school in 2012, murdering 3 and 5-year-old brothers together with their father, and an 8-year-old girl at point blank range. This was followed by the 2017 vicious murder and defenestration of 65-year old Sarah Halimi, and the 2018 killing of 85-year old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll. In both cases, the perpetrators cried “Allahu Akbar” claiming support for the “Palestinian cause”.

6) France by then became the scene of mass-murder terrorism, from the Charlie Hebdo massacre to the Kosher Supermarket killings in January 2015. President François Hollande decided to provide military protection at Jewish schools, synagogues and institutions. In November that year, heavily armed terrorists killed 130 in and around the Paris Bataclan theatre, leaving over 400 wounded. A terrorist truck rampage in Nice, on the 14th July national holiday, killed 86 and injured over 400. All of the murderers had been fed antisemitism either through mosques or Jihadi social media. A whole portion of French citizens and families were being indoctrinated by the Muslim Brotherhood, paying allegiance to Daesh (ISIS) and adopting the “Palestinian cause” through the prism of Hamas...

7) In the aftermath of 7 October 2023, the French populist extreme-left was incapable of condemning the monsters, rather riding the wave of protests, brandishing Palestinian flags alongside Hamas and ISIS banners, tearing down “Free the Hostages” posters, screaming for murder... all reminiscent of the Kristallnacht (the 9 November 1938 Nazi “Night of Broken Glass” against Jewish businesses and synagogues).

8) Kristallnacht inaugurated the systematic targeting of Jews and the Implementation of the Holocaust. Today’s protests are precursors to a new flood of antisemitism: in France and across Europe, there have been cases of stencilled Stars of David marking buildings where Jewish families reside, youth identifying Mezuzot to single out Jewish homes, Jewish university students are being threatened by their classmates, the narrative on social media is more and more inflammatory, where extreme left and right conflate with Islamists around the wildest conspiracy theories, glorifying terrorism, banalizing brutality, calling for genocide!

9) Antisemitism is back in force. Today, over 900 antisemitic incidents have been reported in France alone since 7 October. As a meter of comparison, there had been about 450 in the full year of 2022. Over 400 related arrests have been carried out in the past 3 weeks. 83% of French citizens are worried by this surge in antisemitism... as, to recall the words of then Prime Minister for the Copernic bombing, “what is meant to target the Jews, could hurt the ‘innocent’!”

But what is most disturbing is the 17% who are not concerned!

10) Hamas’ murderous attack on Israel came on the eve of the probable signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The deafening silence – and absence of empathy for the 7 October Jewish and international victims – haunts us. This was a terrorist attack against tomorrow’s peace between Israel and the Arabs! This is the objective of Hamas.

Courage and reason are needed to extirpate terrorism and force its masterminds to cease and desist. Our Centre requested former President Hollande to keep the soldiers outside all Jewish Institutions. They were removed. President Macron had them now reinstated.

After Copernic, the late Sammy Ghozlan and the Wiesenthal Centre created a telephone hotline open 24/7 for the Jews of France subject to acts of antisemitism, assuring a rapid response. This is now again greatly required.

By Shimon Samuels, Director for International Relations


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