Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, visit at the synagogue in Strasbourg, France, on June 30, 2017. (Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara met with Jewish community leaders in Paris this week.

Addressing those in attendance, Netanyahu lauded decades of bilateral ties between Israel and France, which he said had been critical in the first years of the state, when “our existence was not self-evident.

“It is never self-evident but always borders on miraculous. We must act to ensure the miracle [of Israel’s existence], and France’s assistance in the first years of a young Israel—in terms of weapons, planes and additional cooperation—will forever be etched in the chronicles of the nation. [The late Israeli President] Shimon Peres spoke very often with me about those years, and it [the assistance] was a great honor for both him and France.”

Netanyahu noted the deep cultural ties between Israel and France and praised the “glorious Jewish community here, which has contributed greatly to both France and Israel. I am very moved by the fact that we have 180,000 immigrants from France.”

Netanyahu then spoke about the wave of anti-Semitic attacks plaguing Europe, and France in particular, that “have ancient roots even though their expressions are new.”

France must have one policy on anti-Semitism, Netanyahu said. “Fight it. Fight, fight and fight. This is the policy, not just of this government and of this president, but also of previous presidents and governments and this is important.

“The main thing that must be understood is that it never ends with the Jews. Jew-hatred always spreads to a greater problem; therefore, it is possible to recruit others, for both moral reasons and the future of society. I know that this will come up in my talks today [with President Emmanuel Macron].”

Netanyahu said Israel had prevented numerous terrorist attacks in Europe and would continue to do so.

“We are working against the threat of radical Islam, which threatens Israel and the entire world. We are thwarting awful terrorist attacks, including here in France,” he said.

Netanyahu was set to meet Macron on Wednesday to promote collaborative efforts to counter Iran, followed by a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May later this week.

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