Netanyahu Delivers Emotional Speech at Paris Synagogue Memorial Service, Highlights Threats Posed by ‘Radical Islam’ and Iranian Regime
Paris, January 11 -Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a passionate and emotional speech at the Grand Synagogue in Paris tonight, where both he and French President Francois Hollande attended a special memorial service.
Netanyahu said that “radical Islam,” and not “ordinary Islam,” was the enemy, along with the Iranian regime.
“The radical Islamists do not hate the West because of Israel; they hate Israel because it is an integral part of the modern world,” he declared to loud applause. “We cannot let Iran achieve nuclear capabilities. Israel stands with Europe, and Europe must stand with Israel.”
Netanyahu told the service, “Those who murdered Jews at a synagogue in Jerusalem and those who murdered Jews and journalists in Paris are part of the same problem. We must condemn them and fight them!”
Netanyahu also reassured Jews wishing to immigrate to Israel of a warm welcome. “Any Jew who chooses to come to Israel will be greeted with open arms and an open heart, it is not a foreign nation, and hopefully they and you will one day come to Israel,” Netanyahu announced, ending his speech with the rousing words “Am Yisrael Chai! Am Yisrael Chai!” (“the people of Israel lives!”)
The crowd at the synagogue enthusiastically joined in with Netanyahu. The service ended with the singing of both the French National anthem, “La Marseillaise,” and the Israeli national anthem, “Hatikvah.”
In opening remarks at the gathering, Joël Mergui, head of the Consistoire Israélite Central de France, said “Today France was in the streets, all of France… and the Jews of France were also in the streets to defend freedom of expression, to defend Charlie [Hebdo], to defend our democracy… because the Jewish people are democracy.”
“Through our History, the Jewish people, who have always been confronted with hatred, have never hated others…” he added. “The synagogue may be the only place of worship where no one has ever supported the hatred for others”.
“The hatred of Jews and the hatred of democracy are the same thing and must be fought in the same way… I no longer want to hear that Jews are afraid. We are not afraid.”
After reading the names of the 17 victims of last week’s terrorist attacks, France’s Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia asked the crowd “what would France be without fraternity?”
“The French people has done its duty. Until now, we always felt isolated. But that is not the case anymore… Now everyone must assume his or her personal duty”.
“It is in times like these that we must not live in sadness and mourning but in joy. That is what our faith teaches us. To change sadness into joy, that is what I wish for all of you”.
Earlier on in the day, nearly two million people gathered in Paris and hundreds of thousands reportedly marched throughout the country, in a wave of “national unity marches” sparked by the deadly terrorist attacks. People were heard singing the national anthem La Marseillaise and chanting “Charlie” and “terroristes, assassines” (terrorists, murderers) throughout the streets of the French capital. Along with the now famous “Je Suis Charlie” slogan, people could be seen holding signs saying “Je suis Charlie, je suis policier, je suis juif” (I am Charlie, I am a police officer, I am Jewish) and “Le rire est plus fort que la terreur” (Laughter is stronger than terror).
World leaders, including Netanyahu, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas joined the beginning of the march.
They observed a minute’s silence before the march began.
Dan and Yoni were among the demonstrators posted at Place de la République, at the heart of the Paris rally. Dan, 19 who lives just outside the city, expressed how the recent events filled him with emotion. “Our thoughts are with the victims’ families today,” he told The Algemeiner. “We were at the HyperCacher ceremony yesterday evening and we’ve been following the news non-stop for the past days.” Regarding the consequences recent events may have on the country’s Jewish community, Yoni, also 19, believes it is important to for French Jews to stay in France. “If we all leave, then they win!”
Yvelise and Isaac, who have both lived in Paris for most of their lives, also joined the march on Sunday, holding a French flag in their hands. Though they wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to participate in such an historic event, the couple expressed their disappointment in the rally’s message. “We are not ‘only Charlie’,” Isaac told The Algemeiner. He “believes that “French media does not talk enough about the antisemitic acts that occur in the country.” “Politicians are doing their job… [Prime Minister Manuel] Valls made a beautiful speech yesterday,” Isaac continued, “but the media has to talk more about what is happening to Jews.”
Manuel Valls spoke to journalists shortly after leaving the rally to participe in a highly-anticipated ceremony at the Grande Synagogue of Paris. “The antisemitic dimension of [this attack] must be constantly recalled,” Valls said. “What a beautiful day this was. Paris is the capital of the world today,” he added, reiterating a declaration by President François Hollande made earlier in the day.