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February 3, 2016 8:24 am

Israeli Ambassador to France: ‘Very Sad’ French Jews Must Weigh Wearing Kippah in Public

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Israeli Ambassador to France Aliza Bin-Noun. Photo: Screenshot

Israeli Ambassador to France Aliza Bin-Noun. Photo: Screenshot

It is “very sad” that French Jews must decide whether to take the risk of wearing a kippah in public in France lest they face a terrorist attack, Israel’s ambassador to France told euronews on Tuesday.

“This is a very personal, of course, decision and I think it is up to each and everyone to decide whether he wants to wear a kippah or he doesn’t,” said envoy Aliza Bin-Noun. “But I think it is very sad, either way, that people, Jewish people, have even to think about this issue – that they have to think whether they would take the risk or not take the risk.”

Her comments came a few weeks after the head of Marseilles’ Jewish community, Zvi Ammar, told Jews in the city to avoid wearing kippot for safety reasons, after a Hebrew teacher was attacked by a machete-wielding assailant outside a Jewish school.

Noting that it was very common for Israeli Jews to see soldiers and security guards protecting both religious and secular institutions in Israel, Bin-Noun nevertheless expressed gratitude for the French government’s efforts to secure the hundreds of Jewish sites across the country, especially following last year’s ISIS-inspired attack against a kosher supermarket in Paris that resulted in four deaths.

“The French government is doing its utmost to provide security for the Jewish community. They have policemen and soldiers deployed in schools, in kindergartens, near the synagogues so … I think … we appreciate, we really appreciate very much the efforts that the French government is doing in that respect,” Bin-Noun told euronews.

While acknowledging that Israel as a Jewish state was accepting of immigrants from France, who have been arriving in the thousands over the past couple of years, she said it was unfortunate that the reason spurring immigration was fear to be Jewish in France.

“The fact that the Jews would like to go to Israel because they don’t feel safe or because they are afraid, it is not the way. This should not be the reason,” she said.

Bin-Noun became Israel’s first woman ambassador to France last year, a position she called a “dream that is coming true.”

Nidra Poller, an American Jewish writer who has been living in Paris since the 1970s, said the issue surrounding wearing a kippah in public in France goes back to the early 2000s.

“By jumping on the suggestion of the [head of Marseilles’ Jewish community] that maybe Jews should cover or remove the kippah for their own safety, until things quiet down, commentators deliberately or unwittingly put the onus on the victims. In the early years of the 21st century, there were already  recommendations to hide the kippah under a baseball cap,” she told The Algemeiner. “At the time, the media and public authorities were denying the very reality of antisemitic violence, so they didn’t jump on the story.”

“A non-Jewish Italian journalist wore a kippah, strolled on the Champs-Elysées, and then reported on the insults and dirty looks he attracted. When asked why he didn’t try it in the [suburbs], he honestly replied, ‘it would be too dangerous,'” she said.

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