As more French Jews are making their new homes in Israel, Prime Minister Manuel Valls lamented the emigration of Jews and his country’s changed society, irrevocably altered by Islamic terror.
France’s prime minister lamented the growing number of departures of French Jews for Israel, as he and Jewish leaders honored four people gunned down in the Hyper Cacher kosher market a year ago by a terrorist who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group.
Saturday evening’s ceremony was part of a weekend that marked the anniversary of the Islamic terror attacks on the market and the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Times remain tense for France’s Jewish community after a year marked by Islamic violence that left more than 150 people dead.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls joined families of victims and survivors to mark the anniversary of the January 9, 2015 shooting and hostage-taking at the market in eastern Paris, which ended with terrorist Amedy Coulibaly shot by police.
“France would not be France” without its Jews, Valls said. He called it intolerable “to see French Jews leave their country, in larger and larger numbers, because they no longer feel safe” or at home.
“For these enemies who attack their compatriots, who tear apart the contract that unites us, there can be no worthy explanation,” he said, acknowledging the “immense anguish” of the Jewish community.
More French Jews immigrated to Israel last year than ever before, according to figures from the Jewish Agency — many because of anti-Semitism and security concerns after last year’s terror attack.
Concerns about anti-Semitism in France had already been high, and 2014 also saw a record number of French Jews immigrate to Israel.
The victims – Yohan Cohen, 22; Yoav Hattab, 21; Phillipe Braham, 45, and Francois-Michel Saada, 55, were buried in Israel.
The mood was somber at Saturday’s ceremony, as members of the French Jewish community urged the government to step up efforts against terrorism.
“These kinds of events are happening again and again and again,” said Parisian Rachel Benecmous. “Every time we are weakened when these events are repeated, so it’s difficult. We are weakened and traumatized, but … we organize ourselves so that terrorism will not win and affect our morale.”
French President Francois Hollande paid homage Saturday to a female police officer, Clarissa Jean-Philippe, who was killed by Coulibaly in the Parisian suburb of Montrouge on January 8.
Hollande unveiled a memorial plaque and stood solemnly amid a rousing rendition of the Marseillaise, followed by spontaneous gospel music.
“I am not bitter,” said the victim’s mother, Marie-Louise Jean-Philippe. She told French media that the “beautiful ceremony” warmed her heart.
By: AP and United with Israel Staff