July 20, 2014—Paris—AJC praised French Prime Minister Manuel Valls today for his forthright denunciation of a pro-Palestinian rally in Paris—conducted in defiance of a government ban—that turned violent and anti-Semitic.
He spoke on the anniversary of the notorious Vel d’Hiv roundup of French Jews in 1942 for deportation to the Auschwitz death camp. Prime Minister Valls declared that calls for “Death to the Jews,” heard yesterday at the pro-Palestinian gathering, clearly demonstrate the wisdom of the government’s move to seek to block such gatherings. That decision was taken after synagogues, with many Jews inside, were attacked last weekend.
The prime minster said: “The fight against anti-Semitism is not the problem of Jews, it is the problem of the Republic, of all of France…. It is a national concern.” At a time when rising anti-Semitism is causing many Jews to consider leaving France, the prime minister asked them “to have trust in their country.”
Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, director of AJC France, said: “Prime Minister Valls clearly understands that what we are seeing today is not simply the importation of the Israel-Palestinian conflict into the streets of Paris, but rather the exploitation of the Gaza situation by a small group of Jew-haters to unleash raw, unadulterated anti-Semitism.”
“How sadly ironic,” she added, “that on the anniversary of the deportation of Jews from Vichy France to Nazi death camps, the French leader needed to speak not only of the tragic past, but also of the dangerous present.”
“His welcome, unambiguous remarks,” she concluded, “make us hopeful that the French authorities will continue to do all in their power, including considering additional urgent measures, to curb this ominous threat to France and its Jewish community, the largest in Europe.”