The Chair of the Knesset Immigration, Absorption & Diaspora Affairs Committee, MK Danny Danon (Likud), held an urgent debate on Tuesday, 26 Adar 5772 at the Knesset on the massacre at the Otzar HaTorah School in Toulouse. The meeting began with a minute’s silence in memory of the victims and Danon noted that “Anti-Semitism is once again striking the Jewish People – but this time it will be different. We must pursue anyone who acts to harm Jews and must destroy any attempt to strengthen the voices of anti-Semitism. The long arm of the State of Israel can and will reach anyone who tries to harm us around the world.”
During the meeting, Danon announced the beginning of inter-parliamentary cooperation on the struggle against anti-Semitism and a program to promote legislation to increase punishment for crimes motivated by anti-Semitism. “Anti-Semitic motivated murder should be defined as one of the most serious crimes in law books everywhere, and should carry the death penalty. We must not allow the human race to repeat the mistakes that once brought it to its lowest point”, he added.
French Ambassador Christophe Bigot said that “There is tremendous shock in France after this barbaric attack”, reporting that security levels around Jewish schools, synagogues and communal institutions have been raised to the maximum and the political campaigns by presidential candidates have been suspended following the shootings. “The horrifying event”, he said, “is not only a crime against the victims, but also a crime against democracy and against the joint values of Israel and France.” He noted, however, that last year was the year with the least anti-Semitic incidents in France in the last decade. In 2002 there were 900 recorded anti-semitic incidents; in 2011 there were only 380.
Jacques Cooper, member of the World Zionist Organization warned that there are anti-Semitic incidents in France on a daily basis, “In addition to the classic French anti-Semitism, there is now also the hate of the Muslim immigrants. If the Jews do not destroy the Diaspora, the Diaspora will destroy them”, he added.
Meir Haviv, Deputy Chairman of CRIF, the umbrella organization of French Jewish organizations noted in a telephone call from Paris, that “what happened yesterday has never happened before in the history of France. Never has anyone killed children from point blank range. Not even during the Holocaust. The significant difference is that this time the French Government is aware of the problem and is dealing with it.”
Haviv added that community leaders were due to meet soon with President Sarkozy and that he personally would demand the resignation of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, who linked the situation of children in Gaza to the Toulouse victims. Committee Chair Danon also attacked the words of Ashton, saying that they show insensitivity and arouse a sense of horror in every Israeli.
Representative of the European Union’s embassy, Yael Katz responded that “I cannot speak for the ambassador, but I will pass the strong message on to him.” MK Einat Wilf noted that anyone who talks like that cannot represent the European Union. MK Daniel ben Simon, Chair of the Israel-France Parliamentary Friendship Group, said how impressed he was by the political and social solidarity with the Jewish community throughout France following the shootings. “All are children of the French Republic, and the one-minute silence was an exceptional step unprecedented in other countries.
France is standing on the sidelines and I believe they will find the killer within a few days,” he said.
MK Chaim Amsellem (Shas) accused the extreme left that deals in anti-Israeli provocation of leading the way to anti-Jewish feeling.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)