March 17, 2013 -- Paris -- AJC applauds French President Francois Hollande for his remarks at a ceremony in Toulouse, marking the first anniversary of the terrorist attack there.
An Islamist assailant, Mohammed Merah, opened fire at a Jewish school, Or Torah (since renamed Ozar HaTorah), killing three children – Myriam Monsonego and Aryeh and Gabriel Sandler– and a teacher, Jonathan Sandler, the father of Aryeh and Gabriel.
Merah had earlier killed three French servicemen – Imad Ibn Ziaten in Toulouse, and Abel Chennouf and Mohamed Legouad in Montauban.
“To his great credit, President Hollande did not mince words,” said Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, director of AJC France, who attended today’s ceremony in Toulouse on behalf of the global advocacy organization. “His message could not have been more clear and compelling. France as a nation was profoundly anguished by what happened, and will do everything within its power to combat terrorism and anti-Semitism, whatever its source.”
President Hollande declared: “The children of Toulouse are dead for the same reason as those of Vel d’Hiv and Drancy, because they were Jews,” referring to the persecution and deportation of Jews in France during World War II. “Each time a Jew is assailed, it is an assault on our country.”
“Nothing regarding anti-Semitism should be viewed as anodyne or insignificant,” added Hollande, recalling the steps already taken by France to confront the sources of anti-Semitism, including on the Internet and social media.
AJC France has been in close contact with the Toulouse Jewish community since the tragedy last March, and has been actively engaged for years in the struggle against anti-Semitism and racism.