Israeli President Shimon Peres met with representatives and religious leaders of the French Jewish community Sunday on the eve of a memorial for the victims of the shootings by Islamist terrorist Mohamed Merah, who killed a rabbi and three Jewish children.
French-Jewish leaders spoke to Peres about Jewish life in France since the shooting at the Otzar Hatorah School in Toulouse one year ago. In addition to discussing anti-Semitism in France, other topics raised in the talks were developments regarding peace with the Palestinians, Iran and the “Arab Spring.”
Peres also spoke with imams and other representatives from the French-Muslim community.
“We are here to say to our brothers the Jews and the French: We are all threatened by terror, hurt by terror and we all call with optimism for peace at the end of this terrible year. We teach the believers that human life is holier than the holy sites! Holier than Mecca, the Vatican or Jerusalem,” said Imam Hassen Chalghoumi, according to Yedioth Ahronoth. “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not an excuse to hate the State of Israel—we are not interested in that hate and do not believe in it. We visited Israel and saw the country, we want to know Israel as it really is and to get to know people from different perspectives. ”
Peres responded, “Whoever was responsible for the murder of French citizens and Jewish children in Toulouse showed the ugly face
of terror, and your words show the way of peace. You are leaders of an Islam, which seeks peace, as we do. I am very grateful for your words, and I thank you for coming. I see in you brothers in this path, dialogue between us is important and valuable and that is why this meeting between us is so important. We will work together, for all the peoples of the world, for Israeli’s and Palestinians, for peace in the world.”