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November 23, 2014 5:50 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Israel Mayor to French Boycotters: ‘Voila! You’ve Boosted Our Relations With Paris’ (INTERVIEW)

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Tzfat 'Snowmageddon,' Dec. 2013. Photo Dave Bender

Tzfat 'Snowmageddon,' Dec. 2013. Photo Dave Bender

In an Israel boycotter’s nightmare, the mayor of the ancient northern Galilee city of Safed told The Algemeiner on Sunday that the punitive freezing of a twin-city pact with France’s fourth-largest city, Lille, has led to even better relations with Paris.

After Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, and despite a twinning agreement in effect since 1988, in October, the Lille City Council abruptly decided to freeze the accord, as a result of pressure by anti-Israel operatives who claimed that “Israel wasn’t doing enough to advance peace,” Ilan Shohat said.

A the time, “I protested the decision, pointing out that I saw the accord as a ‘bridge’ to better relations,” Shohat said, noting that, when the decision was taken, Safed and the Palestinian West Bank city of Nablus were part of a three-way agreement with Lille.

“Lille’s caving to the forces of extremism and its lack of leadership in seeing the big picture will lead to [the extremists] taking over all of France, and then it will be too late,” Shohat said at the time.

Roger Cukierman, the president of the Jewish umbrella group, CRIF, blasted Lille Mayor Martine Aubry, in a letter.

The “decision is tantamount to a heinous attitude towards the Israeli people because neither the twin city nor the Israeli people are responsible for the Israeli government’s policy,” Cukierman wrote of the move taken by Lille’s Municipality.

The vote, according to Greens Party member Marie-Pierre Bresson, is part of several “initiatives taken notably by the European Parliament to call for a freezing of the privileged agreements with Israel in order to pressure the government and accelerate the resolution of the conflict.” Aubry did not say when the freeze would be lifted.

Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat with English-speaking residents. Photo Dave Bender.

Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat with English-speaking residents. Photo Dave Bender.

“I was saddened that Aubry folded under pressure and decided to ‘follow the mob’ instead of cooperation and collaboration,” Shohat told The Algemeiner, adding that the frustration was shared “by a large swath of French Jewry.”

Shohat pointed to dozens of letters of support, and emphasized that a business delegation from Lille and Paris, including prominent French Jews, arrived two-weeks ago to seek ways to bolster identification with the 32,000-resident city, the birthplace of Jewish mysticism – Kaballah.

Unfortunately, the town also suffers from limited business opportunities, and Shohat was worried that Lille’s move would lessen the picturesque town’s international commercial, cultural and tourism ties.

“Last [week], the Paris Municipality passed a declaration of support and solidarity, calling for boosting cultural, business and tourism enterprises. While the gesture isn’t on the same level as ‘twinning’ – which can only be done with cities of equal rank, such as, say, Tel Aviv – it’s a very respectable move, which can only boost Safed’s standing,” Shohat explained.

Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat with visiting French delegation. Photo: Facebook.

Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat with visiting French delegation. Photo: Facebook.

Last Wednesday, “the deputy mayor [Patrick Klugman], speaking in the name of Mayor [Anne Hidalgo] informed me of the move,” Shohat said, adding that, “a working delegation of representatives is set to arrive by the end of the month, in order to learn about Safed first-hand.”

Collaborative ideas Shohat plans to pitch to the group include research and development projects with the city’s medical school, an annex of Bar-Ilan University in coastal Ramat Gan; Sieff Medical Center’s research into liver disease, and the city’s internationally-noted Jewish klezmer musical prowess.

“I’m happy to say that – thanks to the efforts of pro-Palestinian boycotters in Lille – Safed’s international relations have gone up a notch,” Shohat said.

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  • Reply to Zionist: I laid that all out in a recent comment, but I guess historical facts are powerless against fanaticism, ignorance and voluntary blindness. The French have a saying:
    there is no more blind than he who does not want to see.
    How very appropriate!
    Regarding BDS, many wealthy donors to the Universities that have a BDS problem have withdrawn their funding. I am confident that more will follow.
    After the brutal murder of four rabbis while praying at their synagogue, even the most inveterate Jew hater will begin to see who the aggressors are, and who are the victims.

  • art frank

    To hell with lille. Let them partner up with the savage cities of beirut, damascus, bagdad, jedda, etc.

  • Lynne T

    I am not sure why Cukierman feels it necessary to offer up an apologist’s plea over Protective Edge. Israel was fully justified in responding to Hamas’s multiple provocations and made incredible efforts to minimize harm to non-combatants despite Hamas’s cynical use of human shields.

    His “advocacy” would have a little more effect if he actually spoke truth to the apologists for Hamas’s fascism.

  • American

    Lies, BDS is beginning to bite your land-thieving butts. There is more to come.

    • shloime

      the only “land stealing” is the faux-palestinans’ lying claims to the jewish homeland. to racist jew-baiters like you, buying land is “stealing”.

      go back to humping your camel, troll.

    • A Zionist

      Dear American,
      Thank you for your interest in Israel. We are always pleased to receive such interest from those who clearly have no idea of history and prefer to align themselves with lies and liars.We would be very happy to show you how international law actually shows that the Jewish people have the right to this land called Israel.In modern terms, this dates from WW1 an the San Remo Conference and the Treaty which followed in 1922. This was ratified by the League of Nations who also instituted a Mandates programme. Perhaps you are unaware of the Mandate for Iraq, Lebanon? In 1922 Churchill illegally gave 78% of the land set aside for the Jewish National Home to create the Emirate of TransJordan, later the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Thus, Jordan is a British creation, occupying 80% of what the Romans called “Palestine”. The irony is that until recently, the Jews were “Palestinians” and calling an Arab a Palestinian, was an insult.
      The UN ratified all of these treaties and Mandates in Article 80 of the UN Charter.
      Although it is doubtful that you will be able to respond other than make offensive and ignorant comments, we nevertheless thank you for showing just how the BDS Movement is an anti-semitic organisation, whose purpose is to destroy the Jewish State.
      I am sure there is more-to-come-from-the-BDS-movement. It is notable that the BDS movement has failed to help even one Palestinian Arab. On the contrary, thanks to you and the BDS movement, many Palestinians have lost their jobs and if you don’t believe me, then go to Ramallah and find out, that is, if you ever manage to get out alive.

    • art frank

      american, troll, move to the land of the savages whom you love and where you’ll feel right at home. If you knew how to read, you’d know from history that arabs are not native to Israel. They came with the conquering arab armies in the 8th century. They are interlopers.

    • Tzfatnick

      Hey “American”:

      Unless you are a native american (Cherokee, Shawnee, etc…), I’d say get your occupying butt out of their country and get back to wherever your ancestors came from.

  • Eric R.

    Israel should be boycotting the French, period. And the French Jews need to leave before they are massacred by the Beurs.

    • Shalom-Hillel

      Let’s not forget our French friends who do support Israel. It was France that made sure the first Iranian nuke deal was scuttled, too. Never good to burn bridges.

    • Dear American, Name a single piece of land that Israel or Israelis have actually stolen. It has given back a lot of land (e.g. the entire Sinai Peninsula, the entire Gaza Strip, and southern Lebanon. But maybe you think that’s the same as stealing. Perhaps things work differently in America. Who knew? Just take a little time to read about how Israel actually acquired its land. And ask yourself how two of the most corrupt ‘governments’ (Hamas and the PLO) took control of Gaza and (as the PA) the West Bank.

  • Robert Davis

    Although Martine Aubry may not be responsible for the despicable french left attitude towards Israel, cooperation with france has been a big mistake because it makes anti Israel parties think Israel needs… france! Israel needs france as it needs yellow fever or bronchitis! france has been the PROMOTER OF A POLICY OF HOSTILITY TOWARDS ISRAEL FOR ABOUT 50 YEARS NOW AND IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE WORLD S HOSTILITY TO ISRAEL. france is frightened of Jews’ REVENGE which it will get sooner or later and would be ready to stop its harassing if only Israelis would stop cringing!

  • May it always be thus.

  • rulierose

    I think you’d call that a major BDS fail. sweet!