Diplomats, Jewish leaders, representatives of New York ethnic and faith groups, and members of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) gathered at the global Jewish advocacy group’s headquarters this morning to memorialize Mireille Knoll, the 85-year-old Jewish grandmother and Holocaust survivor, who was savagely murdered in her Paris apartment.

Knoll is the 11th French Jew murdered as a Jew since 2006, all at the hands of jihadists. The brutality of Knoll’s killing – she died as her apartment burned in a fire set by her attackers after she was stabbed 11 times – horrified the Jewish community, political leaders, and civil society. Law enforcement has declared antisemitism as the presumed motive. A neighbor, who had frequented Knoll’s apartment since he was a child, is one of the two suspects in the brutal attack.

“Mireille Knoll’s murder haunts me. It is a painful reminder of the face of antisemitism in France today,” said Paris-based AJC Europe Director Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, who addressed the event by video.

Thousands honored Knoll in Paris last night, marching from the Place de la Nation, on the eastern side of the capital, to her apartment building. Earlier in the day President Macron attended her funeral.

The somber program at AJC headquarters this morning was a collective expression of solidarity with the Knoll family — and with France’s Jewish community, the largest in Europe. In addition to the 11 murders, the community has experienced a number of other threats and attacks on individuals and institutions.

“The world’s oldest hatred, antisemitism, is metastasizing in ways that threaten not only France’s Jews, but French society,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “The viciousness of her murder is especially sickening. Insufficient response to date to the pattern of attacks on Jews continues to be most worrisome. Will the Mireille Knoll tragedy be the last one?”

For decades, AJC has been in the forefront of the fight against antisemitism in Europe, working with governments, civil society, and Jewish communities to help develop and implement strategies aimed at systematically confronting and combating antisemitism.

“In 2001, we first alerted French officials to the growing threat against France’s Jews, but, tragically, our warnings largely fell on deaf ears for several years,” Harris said. “Some progress has certainly been made in recent years by the French government, but clearly more concrete action is urgently needed to prevent antisemitic violence and instill in all French Jews the confidence that they are safe.”

France’s Interior Ministry and the Jewish Community Protection Service (SPCJ) reported last year that although the number of antisemitic threats had decreased in 2017, the number of violent antisemitic acts had increased to 97, up from 77 in 2016.

French Consul General Anne-Claire Legendre declared that antisemitism is “a scourge.” There can be “no accommodation, no blindness.” She pledged the “absolute determination of the French government to fight antisemitism.”

Knoll survived the Holocaust as a child when she and her mother managed to escape the 1942 roundup of 13,000 Jews at Vel d’Hiv in Paris and deportation to Nazi camps. She found refuge in Portugal and returned to Paris after the war, where she married an Auschwitz survivor.

Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan said that in recent years “France has suffered hundreds of victims to hatred and terrorism, but that does not diminish, even for one iota, the responsibility to confront the antisemitism wave that cost the lives of 11 Jews on French territory.” He expressed “hope that Knoll’s murder will be a call to action for freedom-loving people” to confront antisemitism in France.

During the commemorative ceremony, the standing-room-audience of more than 150 people joined in reciting the Jewish mourner’s prayer, led by Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations. “The Knoll family will be in our hearts at our Passover Seder table,” said Marans, noting the Jewish holiday that begins tomorrow evening.

“History has taught that if Jewish people are under threat anywhere, then the world is under threat,” said Marans, but “we will not be paralyzed by fear. We have the power to act.”

Rene-Pierre Azria, Chair of AJC Paris and a member AJC’s Executive Council, in introductory remarks for the memorial, reflected on the pattern of heinous antisemitic crimes in France. “None of these murderers has any decency whatsoever left in them,” he said.

In addition to the French and Israeli consuls general, diplomats from Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, and Switzerland attended. And representatives of Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Representatives Yvette Clarke and Joe Crowley, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and New York State Senator Brad Holman also were in the audience.

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